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  1. #1
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    Gil Bridges, Co-Founder and Sax Player For Rare Earth, Dies

    From bestclassicbands.com-
    Gil Bridges, an original member of the rock band Rare Earth, who began as the Sunliners and went on to record three Top 10 singles for Motown, including “Get Ready” and “I Just Want to Celebrate,” died Wednesday [December 8, 2021]. Bridges, the last remaining member of the original lineup to continue to perform with the band, was 80, and reportedly died of complications from Covid-19 at his home in suburban Detroit. The news was shared by Lew Patterson, a guitarist in the band’s current lineup.


    Rare Earth was a rarity for Motown in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as both a white band and a rock band on a roster loaded with dozens of popular black singing groups and solo artists.


    Bridges was born in Detroit and played saxophone in his high school marching band as well as the school orchestra and jazz band. While in high school he was asked to join a band called The Sunliners. They played at high school dances, teen clubs, and eventually bars becoming one of Detroits most popular bands. In 1968 they decided to change their name to something more hip.
    A year later, Motown signed the group and gave them their own label, Rare Earth Records. Besides Bridges who played sax, flute and vocals, the initial lineup was Peter Hoorelbeke [aka Peter Rivera] on lead vocals and drums, John Parrish [aka John Persh] on bass guitar, trombone and vocals, Rod Richards [guitar and vocals] and Kenny James on keyboards.


    The band’s first hit was a cover of the Smokey Robinson composition, “Get Ready,” which had been a #1 R&B single for labelmates the Temptations in 1966, though it only reached #29 on the pop chart for the singing group.
    Rare Earth had been playing the song in clubs for about a year or two prior to recording it. It started out a three-minute song until one member took a solo and then everyone wanted a solo so over time the song became 21 minutes long.
    The band’s recording, replicating the live version, lasted 21:32, and took up the entire second side of their 1969 debut album. The 2:48 single version became a significant hit in 1970, reaching #4 on the Hot 100.

    Within the next two years, Rare Earth enjoyed two more Top 10 pop hits, “[I Know] I’m Losing You” and “I Just Want to Celebrate.”

    Bridges played on every Rare Earth record ever recorded and was the sole original member still performing with the band at the time of his death.

  2. #2
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    .So very sad to hear this, he was so loyal to the legacy of RE and was such a recognizable member. RIP Gil

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    Sorry to hear this news. Thanks for posting this.

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    I learned this a couple of days ago. Shared a stage for many years with Gil during the Heyday of The Sunliners. Many great memories. Rest in peace, Gil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I learned this a couple of days ago. Shared a stage for many years with Gil during the Heyday of The Sunliners. Many great memories. Rest in peace, Gil.
    So Sorry to hear the passing of Gil Bridges [and my Condolences to You for your loss].

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I learned this a couple of days ago. Shared a stage for many years with Gil during the Heyday of The Sunliners. Many great memories. Rest in peace, Gil.
    What a live you've led, Ralph! We stand in awe, admiration and thanks. Be well.

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    RIP Gil. Rare Earth were one awesome band!

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    Thank you for the kind words P&H. I admit, I have been fortunate to have the experiences afforded me through music. However it hasn't always been a walk in the park.

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    Old Sunliners business card from around 1958.

    Name:  sunliner business card.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9A View Post
    Old Sunliners business card from around 1958.

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    That is very cool

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9A View Post
    Old Sunliners business card from around 1958.

    Name:  sunliner business card.jpg
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    A True collectors item! Thanks for sharing the picture of it with us.

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    Ralph's cousin gave it to us a couple of weeks ago and I framed it.


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    The date of this card shows me it will be two or three years before Pete Rivera would make the scene. The drummer on this card was Jerry Binetti. He would marry and move to D.C. Jerry was a good drummer and his absence would create a three year desperate search for a drummer. Finally, Pete Rivera.

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    For newer members, here is a video of my brother and me discussing Pete.

    https://youtu.be/YdihTkilgv8
    Last edited by ralpht; 12-12-2021 at 11:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    For newer members, here is a video of my brother and me discussing Pete.

    https://youtu.be/YdihTkilgv8
    Just watched the video with Ralph & his Brother Russ discussing Rare Earth's Pete Rivera. Lots of great memories [and some really funny stories] about the group. Thanks for sharing Ralph.

    PS: Here's a recent video about Rare Earth's classic "I Just Want To Celebrate" featuring an interview with Pete Rivera.

    https://youtu.be/n9AY-bYcPC0


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    I've always gotten a kick out of your Motown stories, Ralph! I could listen to yours and Russ' Motown tales all day! I'm truly saddened to hear of Gil's passing. He and Pete were always my favorite members of Rare Earth. May Gil rest in peace.

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    When sessions were complete on "Celebrate" Russ made a rough mix for Harry Balk, who he would be mixing the song with. Things got crazy and the more they mixed the further they got from where they wanted to be. After many failed mixing sessions, Russ suggested they listen to the demo mix to regain some perspective on the song. And then it happened. They realized the demo mix was THE mix. So what you are hearing while listening to the song is Russ' quick demo mix post recording session. Below is a video of Russ and me discussing mixing. Towards the end we bring up "Celebrate".

    https://youtu.be/lCMaUvoecqQ
    Last edited by ralpht; 12-13-2021 at 09:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    When sessions were complete on "Celebrate" Russ made a rough mix for Harry Balk, who he would be mixing the song with. Things got crazy and the more they mixed the further they got from where they wanted to be. After many failed mixing sessions, Russ suggested they listen to the demo mix to regain some perspective on the song. And then it happened. They realized the demo mix was THE mix. So what you are hearing while listening to the song is Russ' quick demo mix post recording session. Below is a video of Russ and me discussing mixing. Towards the end we bring up "Celebrate".

    https://youtu.be/lCMaUvoecqQ
    Not to change the subject and wishing Gil a peaceful transition [[RIP), however you bring up an interesting issue with demo mixes versus highly manipulated and re-worked track mixes looking for that "magic" track. One example is Bob Seegers biggest selling hit... "Old Time Rock & Roll... The original demo was done in Muscle Shoals and intended to be released on the songwriter, George Jackson... They cut a rough track, including a young guitarist on vacation with his family who happened to stop by the studio and asked if he could play on a record. As the story goes, the kid could play and for some reason, they let him play in that track [[as his parents remained outside in the family station wagon), Seegers biggest selling hit [[incidentially the ONLY session the kid ever played on after moving to Muscle Shoals), but when they pitched the song to Seeger and re-cut the track with the Silver Bullet band, along with more trial track efforts from the Swampers...they decided that nothing they recorded was as good as the original demo track, and THATS what made it on to the released recording...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    When sessions were complete on "Celebrate" Russ made a rough mix for Harry Balk, who he would be mixing the song with. Things got crazy and the more they mixed the further they got from where they wanted to be. After many failed mixing sessions, Russ suggested they listen to the demo mix to regain some perspective on the song. And then it happened. They realized the demo mix was THE mix. So what you are hearing while listening to the song is Russ' quick demo mix post recording session. Below is a video of Russ and me discussing mixing. Towards the end we bring up "Celebrate".

    https://youtu.be/lCMaUvoecqQ
    ANOTHER question, Ralph! I was a young sprout of 13 when RE scored their first big hit with Get Ready in 1969. I yield two questions. What did 'the industry' think of the group? I recall my very sophisticated friends thinking the band was 'whatever', and perhaps the rock press [[which I followed religiously at the time) agreeing. Secondly, the span of hits was so short ... do you have any thoughts of why? I think the RE catalog holds up just great and I note that there have been samplings galore in the rap world.

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    Good questions P&H. Give me a couple of days to think this over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    ANOTHER question, Ralph! I was a young sprout of 13 when RE scored their first big hit with Get Ready in 1969. I yield two questions. What did 'the industry' think of the group? I recall my very sophisticated friends thinking the band was 'whatever', and perhaps the rock press [[which I followed religiously at the time) agreeing. Secondly, the span of hits was so short ... do you have any thoughts of why? I think the RE catalog holds up just great and I note that there have been samplings galore in the rap world.
    I'll venture some thoughts here and see if Ralph agrees. Ralph of course was there and I was not. I was a teenager working in the deep south at a radio station when RE broke out. I think the music was so good that no one here questioned it. I remember being doubly surprised when I saw the label and it turned out to be a Motown subgroup. It was all very impressive but I think the attitude was "let's see if they have more hits or will be a one-hit wonder." Then I'm Losing You hit the airwaves and Born to Wander. It seemed to us all that Motown had expanded into the rock field successfully. Efforts ot break out R. Dean Taylor and Kiki Dee on the label got some measure of success but overall Motown signed far too many acts to RE to given them the proper attention. This was one of the things that compromised Rare Earth's future success. I remember there being a lot of excitement about the "Ma" lp but Motown did little to promote it as interest swayed because...

    Berry went Hollywood. After launching Diana Ross into movies and moving to LA, Gordy's sights were on the visual medium now and he lost touch with his Detroit artists. Obviously Gordy saw potential in RE as he kept releasing albums well into the late 70s and gave them a bit of a comeback with Warm Ride. Overall, RE, like Jr Walker, like the Originals, like Syreeta, had company approval but they were basically on their own. Promotion budgets went to his major artists [[Wonder, Gaye, Ross, Commodores) and even Smokey suffered during this time frame. He released lp after lp with only Quiet Storm getting some real noise. Smokey didn't make a comeback until late 1979 with Cruisin.' By the time Gordy realized the music end of his company was sinking, Motown was nearly bankrupt. He relaunched Smokey, Diana, Rick James, introduced hot new acts like Teena Marie, DeBarge and the Dazz Band and even got his son-in-law Jermaine in the top ten. Going into 1980 music was changing drastically and Gordy was too up in years to grasp it. He sold the company a couple years after he should have.

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    You make excellent points, Bayou. In the 80s video was king. Berry thought the hundred K it cost to produce the video was more expense heaped on promotional expenses already in place. It became too much for him.
    To answer part of your questions P&H, Motown was acquiring Masters that I thought were a little weak. Meanwhile, more and more interest was shown to the West Coast operation, which was crippling Detroit production. Once Harry Balk was gone [[ I will never understand that one) it became evident that Detroit was toast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    You make excellent points, Bayou. In the 80s video was king. Berry thought the hundred K it cost to produce the video was more expense heaped on promotional expenses already in place. It became too much for him.
    To answer part of your questions P&H, Motown was acquiring Masters that I thought were a little weak. Meanwhile, more and more interest was shown to the West Coast operation, which was crippling Detroit production. Once Harry Balk was gone [[ I will never understand that one) it became evident that Detroit was toast.
    Yes I remember Gordy griping about skyrocketing promotion costs when he decided to sell Motown. Michael Jackson revolutionized the video concept in 1984 with Thriller. Around the same time Motown put out a cheap video to promote Don't Look Any Further with nothing more than Dennis Edwards mouthing the words and Seidah Garrett crawling on him. Can't compete with that. Also videos from Smokey's Being With You and the Temptations Standing On The Top were so cheap looking. As the 80's wore on only A listers like Lionel Richie and Rick James got videos. Even DeBarge only made one or two videos. The other labels were eating Gordy's lunch.

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    I have always defended Berry on the sale of Motown. It was his football. But
    I will always acknowledge that I thought it was a huge mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I have always defended Berry on the sale of Motown. It was his football. But
    I will always acknowledge that I thought it was a huge mistake.
    He was getting up in years and lost his touch in terms of knowing what was or wasn't a hit record. Music had changed. Motown was no longer innovative, they were following trends instead of creating them.

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    I only heard the very sad news of Gil's passing yesterday, Rare Earth are my all time favourite band and One World & Willie Remembers are my 2 favourite albums. of all time...So the band have been a major part of my life for over 50 years..In the early 90's I was lucky enough to meet the band on 2 seperate occasions when I saw them live in Amsterdam,spending several hours with them before and after the shows,speaking with Gil at length, they are 2 nights I will never forget....
    Rest in peace Gil...

    Richard Norris
    Bedfordshire UK
    Last edited by rcnorruis20; 12-22-2021 at 05:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    He was getting up in years and lost his touch in terms of knowing what was or wasn't a hit record. Music had changed. Motown was no longer innovative, they were following trends instead of creating them.
    I don't think at the time of the sale Berry Gordy was really all too concerned with what was and what wasn't a hit record. He was well past that phase of his career with wealth likely beyond his wildest initial dreams and had moved to a different level within the entertaimment business and business in general and running a record label was no longer where he was focusing his attention... The industry, sound, and technology had evolved, and I doubt Gordy was concerned with keeping pace with those changes not being a performer or songwriter any longer, but just a business person looking at other business opportunities...

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    One thing that happened to Rare Earth during the early '70s which may have hurt their chances at Motown was the Willie Remembers LP. The band's first attempt to write all of the songs on an album, it failed to produce any major hits [and only reached #90 on Billboard according to Wikipedia]. This would lead to the company giving the reins to Norman Whitfield for the 1973 set, Ma. While that album didn't have any big hits either, Rare Earth did have another bright spot when the group was picked as the opening act for the California Jam Festival in April 74.
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 12-24-2021 at 11:17 AM.

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    Gil had a car exactly like this. During a band meeting, trying to come up with a new band name, Russ noticed Gil's car in the driveway, a 56 Ford Sunliner, and suggested Sunliners would be a good name. And it was.

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    Last edited by ralpht; 12-24-2021 at 09:19 AM.

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    I'm not here often anymore, so I logged in today on a whim. Sorry I did. This is not the way I wanted to start Christmas Eve. Everytime a classic artist dies, a piece of history dies with them. RIP, Gil.

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    Hi Doug. Nice to see you. Sorry about the bad news. Happening more and more it seems.

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    You're right, Ralph. For a number of years I did a music blog for the local paper. Obits were the worst. Telling the stories of people I grew up with musically was great, writing about their passing wasn't.

    Oh, Hi there Stu. How you doing? Did Fritz Richmond ever make that top 50 bass player list for his washtub/jug work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcnorruis20 View Post
    I only heard the very sad news of Gil's passing yesterday, Rare Earth are my all time favourite band and One World & Willie Remembers are my 2 favourite albums. of all time...So the band have been a major part of my life for over 50 years..In the early 90's I was lucky enough to meet the band on 2 seperate occasions when I saw them live in Amsterdam,spending several hours with them before and after the shows,speaking with Gil at length, they are 2 nights I will never forget....
    Rest in peace Gil...

    Richard Norris
    Bedfordshire UK
    Rare Earth never did get the recognition they deserved here in the UK, but I believe they were more appreciated in Europe.

    RIP Gil Bridges

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug-Morgan View Post
    You're right, Ralph. For a number of years I did a music blog for the local paper. Obits were the worst. Telling the stories of people I grew up with musically was great, writing about their passing wasn't.

    Oh, Hi there Stu. How you doing? Did Fritz Richmond ever make that top 50 bass player list for his washtub/jug work?
    Hey Doug old buddy... How goes it with you???... I still here kickin... No, sorry Fritz still didn't make the cut, but funny you should ask since I've recently noticed some new bass lists and posting them on my FB page along with the one we did at DDD, one specifically from Guitar Player Magazine [[sorry, Fritz didn't make that one either)...but also sorry to pass on that bass great Phil Chen passed away this month after battling cancer... Phil was a Jamaican who went to England in the 60's where he played sessions and toured with Rod Stewart [[Including Do Ya Think I'm Sexy), Jeff Beck, and later Donovan, Brian May, Pete Townsend, and the Doors incarnation of Manzarek-Krieger and many more... Phil was also a huge Jamerson devotee, as I was introduced to him by James Jamerson lll [[Jr) who also passed on several years ago...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 12-29-2021 at 03:00 PM.

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    Gil Bridges/Rare Earth

    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    Rare Earth never did get the recognition they deserved here in the UK, but I believe they were more appreciated in Europe.

    RIP Gil Bridges
    I think the problem was with Motown UK not getting behind the band as much as they could, it was 2 years before the Rare Earth label was launched over here, so the Get Ready and Ecology albums were on Tamla Motown that might have comfused people. rock music fans might have passed on these 2 albums as they were on Tamla Motown..There were many stories of Motowns lack of attention, you only have to look at the Back To Earth album which did not even get an official UK release....I once wrote to Motown in London for some info on the band and all I got was a short reply telling me to keep an eye out in the music press as they[[Motown) had no current info on the band...And when Tony Blackburn[[ Britains No.1 DJ at the time) chose the Warm Ride 45 as his record of the week Motown could have made more of this gift, record company A & R people at the time would kill for Blackburn to have one of their singles as his record of the week. So many missed opertunities.....
    Last edited by rcnorruis20; 12-30-2021 at 01:26 PM.

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    Good points, 20. Promotion was a problem from the start. That and the multitude of acquisitions that were not that good and it made the label seem without proper direction. Much too much to try and promote for a promotion staff used to dishing R&B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    Good points, 20. Promotion was a problem from the start. That and the multitude of acquisitions that were not that good and it made the label seem without proper direction. Much too much to try and promote for a promotion staff used to dishing R&B.
    And one more thing about Motown Records trying to enter the field of Rock Music in the '70s; they were now competing with all the major labels that were also promoting their artists [which included Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, Eagles, etc.]. They had the expertise & promotional muscle that Motown did not have to push all of their artists on the Rare Earth label.

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    It’s a shame Rare Earth didn’t hit at all in the UK. As a Motown fan from Britain, I still would have bought and enjoyed all of the group's Motown releases. But I agree that rock fans would likely have passed on them if the label said ‘Tamla Motown’. Definitely didn’t help.

  39. #39
    I was saddened to hear the news about Gil. Thank you George Katsakis for letting let me know. My condolences to Johnny Sue, family and friends. I am speechless really. Gil came on board a session I was involved with in Detroit during 2008 to do some sax work. Dennis Coffey produced - thank you Dennis. It was an honour to have both Gil and George battling it out in the studio for those instrumental parts. Very happy memories. The video below has a snippet of Gil from around 2' 52" from that session. The track is called 'Detroit [City by the River]' and currently unavailable, but it will be sometime in the future. Very sad news.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62XsOKiidKU
    Last edited by 55Motown; 01-04-2022 at 01:53 PM.

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