Max Carl Gronenthal
2013 - Individual Artist
Max Carl Gronenthal is a Nebraska-born rock singer, keyboardist, guitarist and songwriter. He is the current lead singer of the classic rock band Grand Funk Railroad. He also spent several years as the keyboardist and lead singer for the southern rock band 38 Special, for whom he co-wrote and sang lead on the hit song Second Chance.
Max began his music career in 1968–69 as a member of the Norfolk-based New Breed Blues Band. Beginning as a saxophonist in this band, he later became the lead vocalist/keyboardist in the group. He left in 1969 to join the Lincoln-based Chancellors.
During the 1970s, Max served stints with numerous bands across the Midwest, including a band that was an early inspiration to him - The Fabulous Flippers. Pausing briefly in 1976 to study piano and refine his songwriting abilities in Oklahoma City, He frequently performed with fellow Midwesterner (and Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer) Tommy Bolin in various jazz/rock fusion groups. By the late-1970s, Max graduated to performing on albums by artists such as Rod Stewart, Molly Hatchet and Dusty Springfield. In 1979 his debut solo album, Whistlin' in the Dark was released in 1979, and a second solo album, Max, followed in 1980.
Throughout the 1980s, Max immersed himself in session work, singing and/or playing on albums by artists such as Sir Elton John, Dan Fogelberg, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit, Bette Midler, and Kenny Loggins. In 1982 he and a group of professional studio musicians in Los Angeles, CA put together a "jam band" to perform at local clubs to play covers of 60's Rhythm & Blues tunes and to also showcase a number of Max’s original R & B tunes. They became Jack Mack and the Heart Attack and Glen Fry, lead singer with The Eagles, signed them to a record deal.
Max also found time during the mid-80s to compose tunes for various movie soundtracks, performing on many of them as well. Police Academy (1984), Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), and Doin' Time (1985) and Short Circuit (1985) include his compositions. In 1985, Carl left Jack Mack and the Heart Attack to record his third solo album, The Circle. The album's title track would be included on the soundtrack for the John Hughes film Weird Science.
By 1988, Max had joined forces with the band .38 Special. Their album Rock & Roll Strategy included the tune Second Chance, introducing .38 Special into a whole new market when that song reached the top of the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1989. Carl left .38 Special shortly after the release of Bone Against Steel in 1991. At this point, he moved to Nashville where he continued to write/perform with artists Joe Cocker, Bad Company, Richard Marx, and Charlie Daniels.
Later in the 90s, he became fascinated with a "family" of musicians in Mississippi who performed an original historical and heartland-infused brand of music. Relocating to Mississippi, Max performed with this group, forming what would become Max Carl and the Big Dance. This culminated in the release of the album One Planet – One Groove in 1998.
Today, Max Carl Gronenthal is still a working musician. He tours with Grand Funk Railroad, and his music can also be found on the Speed Channel's drag racing franchise, Pinks. Through this endeavor, he has released a CD soundtrack entitled Max Carl: Fuel.