From Grand Funk to Grace

Mark Farner with his legendary lead guitar

Mark Farner with his legendary lead guitar

One of Rock-n-Roll’s great legends is lead guitarist and stand-up vocalist Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad! Known for his stage presence and showmanship as the front-man for the three-piece band, Mark knows how to relate to millennials as well as his own age group of baby-boomers. The message may have transitioned over the past forty years but not the sound. Our current generation is now getting to know the man and the legend behind the talent and musical genius of Mark Farner. You will be glad that you got to know more about him in this edition of The Christian Sportsman magazine. Whether holding a guitar or wielding a firearm Farner remains true to his character as an American patriot, skilled musician and ardent Second Amendment advocate. But most of all Mark Farner is committed to his family and deep Christian faith. He lives his life from the heart!

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It was in their 1969 show-stealing performance before 180,000 people at the Atlanta International Pop Festival that Grand Funk Railroad stormed into the national spotlight. Capitol Records was soon on board releasing the band’s appropriately titled first album, On Time, which included such timeless Mark Farner compositions as Time Machine, High on a Horse, Heartbreaker, Into the Sun and Can’t Be Too Long. Within weeks it was certified RIAA Gold and he was now on track for over thirty such awards. Prior to their national debut they had realized that power trios were popular at the time, so Mark and percussionist Don Brewer went looking for a third wheel in the bassist Mel Schacher. Don’s driving drums and Mark’s powerful vocals and guitar playing were high octane for the formidable locomotive. All they needed was a conductor found in the promoter, Terry Knight.

Mark has the honor of being a platinum recording artist 30 times over. At age 68, Farner commands the stage with the same intensity and outpouring of love as he did at 20 during the summer of ’69, and his fans are still flocking to their captain. The rock patriot’s synergy and open heart come through in epic hits that defined a generation—“ I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” “We’re An American Band,” along with the cuts “The Loco Motion,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” — and “rock star” is only one facet of this Michigan born son’s legacy. Farner is also about as real as they get: He’s a husband, in his fourth decade of marriage to wife Lesia. He’s a family man with five adult sons. And he’s a caregiver. “I think our fans connected to our songs because we were sincere,” Farner said. “Our lyrics were about Mother Earth, stop the war, and all about love.They still have a point of reference with me in their heart.”

Mark, what a great privilege it is to feature your story on the cover of The Christian Sportsman magazine! Personally, you have been one of my most admired and appreciated rock-n-rollers of all time, even at the age of fifteen when our garage band played your well-known classics. Then when finding out about your passion for outdoor adventure and firearms it was a natural to present your life and history in an article for our readers to keep up with the absolute greatest lead guitarist and vocalist of all time! Here’s the first question!

1.    Known for stage showmanship and giving your fans a great performance, where do you get all the passion to deliver such fervor, stamina, creativity and energy as a rock-n-roll musician?

The passion comes from heaven within... really, we all have these passions, some found and some yet to be discovered. I am super fortunate to have discovered my chief passion is music and through prayer and spiritual discernment I rock forth with Vigor! The fervor comes from my faith in the real heaven and my confidence in who I am in Christ. The stamina comes from taking good care of the “bone suit” ;)... my wife Lesia our three sons Jason, Joseph and Jesse and I have all been eating non-GMO and heirloom & organic foods for years. We knew instinctively of the danger in consuming genetically modified anything! God made it just right for us to start with! Everyone needs to see the video 'Genetic Roulette' found on Amazon.

On Stage - Rock-n-Roll Legend Mark Farner 

On Stage - Rock-n-Roll Legend Mark Farner 

We avoid GMO like the diseases it creates! My energy has an unlimited imagination... I know my spirit is the driver of this thing but sometimes it's like it doesn't know what the bone suit's physical limitations are and pushes me way beyond the threshold of PAIN! Yikes!! =) I'm still a student. As far as creativity I always pray for and receive direction... I have learned to trust only the Spirit and know the difference between right and wrong intrinsically as all humans do.

2. Tell our readers about your early years and how you developed such a keen focus on music at a young age?

For my 15th birthday my mother rented an acoustic guitar and got me 6 guitar lessons at a local music store in Flint, Michigan. I was used to playing football on an undefeated junior varsity team and we scrimmaged the varsity team and they knocked me around so hard it put me out of playing any more ball or running any track that fall... I lived to hear my name called out over the Loud Speakers “that was number 66, Farner in on the tackle”... I was defensive linebacker over center and known as the roving reporter! My mother knew it would be another way of me getting my dose of craved attention!

3. Who were some of music’s role models that inspired you in the formative years, and who inspires you 40 years later?

My guitar God was Jimi Hendrix... I liked the early Clapton (fresh cream) and Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck. Vocally hands down it was Howard Tate, the album Get It While You Can caught my attention and ol' Howard taught me a thing or two!

4. Give our readers some highlights about your current band and the circuits that you travel in performing for fans?

Randall's Island - 1970's

Randall's Island - 1970's

Because of the controlled media I don't listen to anything owned by Clear Channel or any corporate conglomerate because I know their motives, their agenda and the evil they serve... Trump was right about one thing ... the “Fake News”... sicksters! I take part in and promote our local music scene here in Northern Michigan but I don't listen to the sterile corporate stations so have no idea of who or what they are promoting.

On drums from Memphis, Tennessee we have Hubert Crawford (aka H Bomb) played with James Brown during the 90's, the Barcays recently and the Eric Gayle Band. On bass guitar and vocals we have Dennis Bellinger from Flint, Michigan, Dennis took Mel's place in Grand Funk in the early 80's and played on and sang on Mark Farner solo projects as my solo band performances during the 70's.

On keyboards from Atlanta, Georgia we have Karl Propst. Karl is a MONSTER keyboard dude! (everyone says it) He sings lead on American Band and Shinnin' On in our live set and plays congas too! All of these Christian patriots are Mark Farner's American Band! This spring we played shows in Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile. Then moved down to Sao Palo, Brazil for a couple more shows to very endearing fans! Check out YouTube - Mark Farner Chile 2017! After South America we were only home nine days before we headed out for Guam, a most delightful place on this planet... the natives are beautiful spirited people from Polynesian decent and family oriented! It's hotter than the sheriff's pistol though! The humidity is high there and I guess you'd have to get used to it... like any place else I reckon. One thing's for sure... it's a rockin' little island!

We are currently touring the US and just finished a couple gigs in the great state of Washington... there are some serious rockers who live there!

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5.  Your biography states that you were raised in Michigan where hunting and fishing are so very popular. What are your favorite pastimes and where do you find relaxation and restoration from a busy lifestyle and demanding travel schedule?

Jesse Enjoys Shooting from the Back Porch Deck - However, He Only Wishes that he Harvested the Whitetail with these Racks!

Jesse Enjoys Shooting from the Back Porch Deck - However, He Only Wishes that he Harvested the Whitetail with these Racks!

Since Jesse's accident we don't stray far from home unless necessary so it pretty much limits us to: hand gun and small caliber weapons, our range is less than 100' from the back door. Long distance shooting in Michigan averages less than 50 yrds for most deer hunters but there are the occasional farm shots of over 250 yrds or so... our 250 yrd shots are from the deck pool and the 100 yard sighting is done in the shooting shed with right and left handed rock solid shooting benches. We also like to fish and there is some great fisheries here in the Great Lake State!

6.  Whitetail, bass and turkey are probably the three most popular local sport hunting passions, but do you ever take safari hunts to Africa, Alaska or other sportsman’s paradise destinations?




I have hunted in New Mexico for mule deer - nice 5X5 - Iowa for whitetail a B&C 169 12 pointer with the help of another Tennessee hunting friend of mine Jamie Mc Conkey! I have hunted antelope in Eastern Montana and like the flavor of alfalfa fed pronghorns! No GMO there! I have friends who used to hunt down state Michigan but because the deer herd has been eating the GMO grain crops and GMO sugar beets from the thumb area that there is no flavor left in them at all and when you have chewed it up you can't even swallow the wad of strange fibers left in your mouth!

7.  You are outspoken about freedom, supporting veterans, working with physically impaired and other projects of patriotism and Christian compassion. Can you comment on the ethical sportsmen’s efforts of conservation management, our natural wildlife resources and leaving an outdoors legacy to the next generation?

Ethical sportsman are the ones who will make the difference and rally to keep our national resources in the forefront of our representatives for the sake of all future American sportsman's. We must all realize that our precious natural resources are at stake... and when money is involved it isn't just the poachers and the scumbags that misuse firearms we worry about... many of those who are supposed to be governing are also susceptible to bribes and contribute to the injustice that will be a pain in our backsides until it's fixed... Lesson 101 Grasshopper...

8.  How did your son’s tragic accident impact your perspective on life and how is your son in the aftermath?

Jesse's accident has given me a way to make young folks a little more conscious about their responsibility to one another as a friend... if one is hurt and needs urgent assistance, no if, ands or butts... GET IT>!

9.  Who is your best friend and why? Please elaborate?

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My best friend is my wife of 39 years Lesia Kay (Dennis) Farner! I'm glad she's from Northern Michigan and I'm super glad she's a GIRL! ;) I met her on the CB radio and it was love at first hear! I love her entire family and we both miss her mom and dad like crazy. We have three beautiful boys together and we have 6 grandchildren. We are working on the concept that if you're making love you're not making war. Marriage is the art of compromise and Lesia and I are @ the moment successfully contending with it... I am 1/8 Cherokee and my Cherokee nature is to esteem my wife to be equal with myself... else how could anyone give every bit of their love to another person?

CLICK HERE  to learn more

CLICK HERE to learn more

10. Are you a follower of Jesus Christ, and if so, what does that mean on a practical daily basis?

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I am a follower of Jesus Christ and on a practical daily basis for me it's not what would Jesus do... it's what did Jesus do! He went into the earth for three days and came into the upper room armed with the keys to the kingdoms of hell and of death... he just picked 'em up from Lucifer... he didn't kick his ass and take the keys... he only had to show him the scars and let him know he did it for him too... that hug lasted 3 days... It is my desire to live, move and have my being in Christ therefore I must learn more forgiveness, learn to suffer more and know that what comes around sure ain't what went around with my Savior Jesus Christ... If we want to reign with Him we must learn to suffer with him... Not bringing it upon ourselves but willing to stand in defense of the gospel of the Savior in our hearts. It's all about the Loving brothers and sisters.

11. Could you leave us with your favorite verse in the bible and even a short closing prayer for any of our readers who may just be having a tough day and just need some personal encouragement?

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These things and greater things shall you do in my name... the mind of Christ is distantly calling all... some hear it... it is debt free... the debt is paid... we must realize we control our own minds... not anyone else... never let anyone put your mind in the mental state of indebtedness... You own that territory and it belongs to Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. Owe no man anything, but to love him.      Psalms 125 v3


Punctuated by Farner's musings on the Constitution ("our founding fathers would puke if they saw what is happening to this country!"), good and evil, today's music moguls ("bottom-line oriented bean counters") and more. The founding member and lead guitarist of 1970s rock band Grand Funk Railroad is immortalized in From Grand Funk to Grace: The Authorized Biography of Mark Farner (2001). Author Kristofer Engelhardt (Beatles Undercover) recounts the major and minor incidents of Farner's life, from his salvation at age nine (inspired by Billy Graham's televangelism) to the controversial 1973 haircut that robbed him of his trademark butt-length locks.