Bread was a 1970s rock/pop band from Los Angeles, California. They were one of the most popular rock groups of the early 1970s, a primary example of what later was labeled "soft rock", releasing a string of well-crafted, melodic soft rock singles.
The band consisted of David Gates (Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, viola, percussion), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), Robb Royer (bass, guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, recorder, backing vocals), Mike Botts (drums; joined in 1970), and Larry Knechtel (bass, guitar, keyboards, harmonica; replaced Royer in 1971).
Beginnings and fame
Gates, Griffin, and Royer joined together in 1968 and signed with Elektra Records choosing the name Bread in 1969. Gates and Griffin had both worked with Royer's previous band, The Pleasure Fair. Bread's first single, "Dismal Day", was released in June 1969 but did not chart. Their debut album, Bread, was released in September 1969 and peaked at #127 on the Billboard 200. Songwriting on the album was split evenly between Gates and the team of Griffin-Royer. Jim Gordon, a top session player, accompanied the band on drums for the album.
Bread became a quartet with their second album, On the Waters (peaking at #12 on the Billboard 200), bringing in Botts as drummer. This time their efforts quickly established Bread as a major act, hitting the mainstream with the Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit "Make It with You" in 1970. "Make It With You" would be Bread's only number one hit on the Hot 100.
For their next single, they released a re-recorded version of "It Don't Matter to Me", a Gates song from their first album. This single was a hit as well, reaching #10. Bread began touring and recording the 1971 album titled Manna (#21), which included the Top 5 hit single, "If". As with the first album, songwriting credits were split evenly between Gates and Griffin-Royer.
Royer left the group after three albums; although, he would continue to write with Griffin—and was replaced by Knechtel, a leading session player from the Los Angeles scene. In January 1972, Bread released Baby I'm-a Want You, their most successful album, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200. The title song was established as a hit in late 1971 before the album was released, also hitting #3. Follow-up singles "Everything I Own" and "Diary" also went top-20. The next album, Guitar Man, was released ten months later and went to #18. The album produced three top-15 singles, "The Guitar Man" (#11), "Sweet Surrender" (#15), and "Aubrey" (#15), with the first two going to #1 on Billboard's adult contemporary chart. The band would have a total of four #1 singles on this chart; "If" and "Baby I'm-a Want You" had also reached the top of the adult contemporary chart during their respective chart runs.
Split and reunion
Despite the band's success, tensions existed between Gates and Griffin. All eleven of Bread's charting singles between 1970 and 1973 had been written and sung by Gates. Elektra Records had invariably selected Gates' songs for the A-sides of the singles, while Griffin felt that the singles should have been split between the two of them.