Sunday, April 24, 2011

Peter Rivera is Rare Earth



By Ray Shasho

Do you ever get peeved about seeing your favorite classic rock bands touring and playing their original hits, but without the key original members of the group? I certainly do. And it seems like more imposter bands are getting away with it lately.

The last draw for me was when the group “Yes” went out on tour without original lead vocalist Jon Anderson. The band replaced him with Benoit David, a vocalist for a Yes- tribute band called, “Close to the Edge.” And please don’t tell me they got the idea from watching the movie “Rock Star.”
It was even reported for awhile that Aerosmith was going to replace Steven Tyler. This reporter’s opinion states that if the heart and soul of the band is no longer with the band, than call it quits! Don’t ruin a legacy for some extra cash; come up with a different name.

Mick Box, the only original member of Uriah Heep continues to tour with the Heep name, Ten Years After tours without legendary guitarist and frontman Alvin Lee, Journey continues to tour without Steve Perry, and their current lead vocalist is Arnel Pineda another cover band replacement, Mick Jones is the only original member left of Foreigner and still touring, Grand Funk is touring with a look- alike replacement for original guitarist and vocalist Mark Farner, The Beach Boys continue their touring ways with only Mike Love and Brian Johnston from the original band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd ridiculously tours with Gary Rossington as its only original member. What’s next a Beatles reunion tour with Paul and Ringo?

And don’t even get me started on the Motown bands. The Four Tops are touring without legendary leader Levi Stubbs, and the Temptations with its only surviving member Otis Williams. And speaking of Motown, Michiganians from the Bradenton-Sarasota area should remember a funky classic rock band from Detroit called Rare Earth. The group signed with Motown in 1969 and became the most successful all- white member band on the label.

The heart and soul of the band was drummer and lead vocalist Peter Rivera. The band scored numerous hits throughout the 70’s including “Get Ready”, "(I Know) I’m Losing You”, “Born to Wander”, “Hey Big Brother”, and “I Just Want to Celebrate.” Their albums “Get Ready” and the two- record set “Rare Earth in Concert” won double platinum. With Peter Rivera on drums and lead vocals, Rare Earth sold over twenty five million records. Rivera has been called the premier rock drummer/vocalist of the 70’s. I’d rank Rivera among the top ten drummers of all-time.

On August 13th of 1980, I attended a Rare Earth show at a small club in Waldorf, Maryland called the Stardust Inn. Sadly only a handful of Rare Earth faithful attended that night. They could have canceled the show for lack of attendance, but they decided to rock the house down instead. I hung out with all the members of Rare Earth that night after the show, and I clearly knew that Pete was the leader, and heart and soul of the band.

A few years earlier I witnessed Rare Earth headlining for the Funkadelic and Ohio Players to a sold-out Baltimore Civic Center of over 13,000 screaming fans. And in 1974 they were the opening act for the California Jam which attracted more than 200,000 people.

Without a doubt, the band’s driving force during their success was Peter Rivera.

Rare Earth continues to tour without Peter Rivera at the helm. Original member and saxophonist Gil Bridges now leads the band with Rare Earth’s most successful guitarist Ray Monette.

As for Peter Rivera, in 1990 he started touring with the Classic Rock All- Stars. A Supergroup that consisted of Peter on drums and vocals, Jerry Corbetta keyboardist from Sugarloaf, Mike Pinera lead singer of Blues Image and guitarist from Iron Butterfly, and guitarist Spencer Davis formally of the Spencer Davis Group. The most current lineup features Rivera, Pinera, Corbetta, and Larry Prentiss bassist from the Johnny Rivers band. http://www.classicrockallstars.com/flash.html

In 2007 Rivera formed another band called “Celebrate” with Peter Rivera, playing all the great Rare Earth tunes plus the timeless hits from Motown and other R&B dance favorites.

Peter Rivera has a great book out called, “Born to Wander.” He writes about his 30 year experience- before, during, and after Rare Earth. You can purchase Pete’s story at  http://www.peterrivera.com/book.html







Do you have a classic rock story? Email them to me at rockraymond.shasho@gmail.com

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