The original lineup of the American Breed in 1968: vocalist Gary Loizzo, drummer Lee Graziano, bassist Charles Colbert Jr., and guitarist Al Ciner
Earlier this year, overachieving local garage rocker Alex White was elected vice president of the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy; more formally known as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, it's the organization that awards the Grammys. Something else the academy does is encourage conversations between young musicians and their influences, and White has decided to take that aspect of the job into her own hands. Since 2011 she's been in touch with her drumming idol Lee Graziano, best known from his stints in iconic Chicago garage band the American Breed ("Bend Me, Shape Me," "Step Out of Your Mind") and an early version of Chaka Khan-fronted funk outfit Rufus (who had a huge hit after he left with "Tell Me Something Good"). White and Graziano were introduced to one another by Graziano's friend Steve Litos, who works with him at the United Center, and they've been talking on the phone for years. They've never met, though, and White decided an in-person get-together was finally in order.
At the Hideout on Wednesday, October 21, White will discuss all sorts of topics with Graziano: his childhood experiences, his thoughts on playing drums, the formation of the American Breed, what it was like being a major-label chart topper, his heroes and local inspirations, and basically what he's been up to since 1968. The entire conversation will be recorded, and the Recording Academy will post it on its website. This is perfectly timed, because on October 16, Graziano and the American Breed joined a massive garage-band reunion for the first special in the WTTW television series Cornerstones of Rock, alongside contemporaries such as the Buckinghams, the Shadows of Knight, and the New Colony Six. (The show was recorded at the station's Grainger Studio, also home to the long-running Soundstage, and has yet to be aired.)
Also at the Hideout on Wednesday, White's duo with her brother Francis, White Mystery, will play a set—with the Bad Lovers from Austin, Texas, and Nashville band Turbo Fruits. Throughout the night, yours truly will DJ, spinning nothing but 45s by 60s Chicago garage bands.
Here's a TV "performance" of the American Breed's hit 1967 single "Bend Me, Shape Me," which also appeared on a 1968 album of the same name.
And for good measure, here's the trailer for the White Mystery tour movie That Was Awesome, which the band released this spring.