Monday, July 11, 2011

Rob Grill of The Grass Roots Has Died

Rob Grill, the lead singer of The Grass Roots, died today of after-effects from a fall a couple of weeks ago. He was 67.

One of the most popular American bands of the late '60s and early '70s, The Grass Roots were originally a studio creation of writer-producers Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan. Unwilling to hit the road and give up their blossoming behind-the-scenes careers, the two recruited Grill's then-band The 13th Floor to "become" The Grass Roots under their guidance.

Taking over the Grass Roots name and working with Barri, Grill and company first cracked the Top 10 in 1967 with The Byrds-esque "Let's Live for Today". "Midnight Confessions" became their biggest hit ever a year later. That led to a steady run of pop-rock smashes that also included "Sooner or Later", "Two Divided By Love" and "Temptation Eyes". They set a Billboard record, remaining on the magazine's singles chart for an unprecedented 302 consecutive weeks, between 1967 and '72. The group's formula not only proved a winner on radio but also TV -- Grill proudly told us they held the record for most appearances by a group on American Bandstand.

While the hits slowed by the mid-'70s, The Grass Roots found a new life on the oldies circuit, where they toured every summer for more than 30 years, including a spot on last summer's Happy Together tour. It proved to be a swan song for Grill. Beset by health problems, he had to leave the group mid-way through the schedule.

Grill leaves behind his wife Nancy. His only son died last year. --Mike McCann