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The American Breed

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The group was originally formed in Cicero, Illinois as “Gary & The Nite Lites”. The group’s greatest success was the single, “Bend Me, Shape Me,” which reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968. The song, written by Scott English and Larry Weiss, was a remake of a recording by The Outsiders that had been released the year before. The group also appeared on the December 16, 1967 episode of the television show “American Bandstand,” along with Pink Floyd.

The original members of the group were Gary Loizzo on vocals, Charles Colbert, Jr. on bass guitar, Al Ciner on guitar, and Lee Graziano on drums. All members were from the greater Chicago area. As “Gary & The Nite Lites”, they were somewhat successful in Chicago and put out one single. Soon afterwards, the group underwent several changes. They moved to the Acta record label and renamed themselves The American Breed. Two new members were also added by 1968: Kevin Murphy on keyboards and Andre Fischer on drums.

The band enjoyed its greatest success in 1967 and 1968. They put five singles on the charts, including “Step Out Of Your Mind”, “Green Light” and “Bend Me, Shape Me”. The group disbanded the following year, and Fischer went on to form Rufus (with Chaka Khan). He later married Natalie Cole. A compilation album, Bend Me, Shape Me: The Best of the American Breed, was released in 1994. “Bend Me, Shape Me” continues to receive occasional airplay on oldies radio stations.

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