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The Grass Roots bring flower power to Ribfest

By Wade Tatangelo

Special to the Herald

The Grass Roots easily rank as one the greatest groups of the flower power era.

Between 1968 and 1972, the Los Angeles-based rock band scored 14 Top 40 hits including classics like “Midnight Confessions,” “Let’s Live for Today,” “Temptation Eyes” and “Two Divided by Love.”

The original band split in 1975, but lead singer/bassist Rob Grill — the voice of The Grass Roots’ biggest hits — has been keeping the group’s legacy alive with regular touring since the 1980s. The affable and youthful 65-year-old — yes, he attributes rock ’n’ roll to keeping him young — called recently to talk about what prompted his move from California to Florida. He also dished on what fans can expect to see when The Grass Roots perform Saturday at Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest in Palmetto.

I thought you were from Los Angeles but I see you have a Gainesville area code.

Close. Mount Dora. I have been here since 1985. But, yeah, I’m from Los Angeles, well Hollywood, originally.

What lured you to the Sunshine State?

One reason. There was a girl here I wanted to marry. I packed up all my stuff after 41 years of living in California and moved here.

May I ask who the lucky lady is?

My wife Nancy. We have been married for 22 years.

Congratulations.

It’s sweet, isn’t it?

Yes it is. So you’re familiar with the Bradenton area?

Oh sure. Played there number of times.

Will you be able to drive back home after the show?

No, no. Next day after Bradenton is Phoenix. After the show I sign autographs. We have a brand new live CD called “Live Gold.” We brought a complete mobile studio to drive to a four-day gig in Boston and recorded our best-known songs. It’s like a studio record — but with a lot more applause!

I was listening to your 1968 smash “Midnight Confessions” the other day. Four decades later, it’s still a gripping, catchy song full of urgency and passion.

Thanks. I agree.

When the song was presented to you did you know it was going to be a hit?

We thought it was a hit but it was a real struggle to get it on radio and then it finally broke. The highest it got to on the charts was No. 3. But it was huge. Sold almost two million copies. Name two bands that never had a No. 1 hit?

Ah.

The Grass Roots and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Well, at least you’re in good company. So, what can attendees expect when they come see you perform?

We do a whole show of hits. Plus a couple songs that were presented to us that we turned down.

Can you dish on which of those songs you might perform?

“Don’t Pull Your Love Out on Me, Baby” (by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds).

That’s a great tune. How’d you miss that one?

I was out on a fishing trip! Then I heard it on radio in Chicago two months later. I knew the band that recorded it had our same management. I said, “How come I didn’t hear that song?”

At our show, after the first three songs, I give a disclaimer: “All songs performed were written by The Grass Roots, for The Grass Roots, rejected by The Grass Roots or stolen by The Grass Roots.”

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