Friday, September 14, 2012

Peter Rivera the heart and soul of Motown’s Rare Earth


An Interview with legendary     Rare Earth drummer and lead singer Peter Rivera

 By Ray Shasho

Peter Rivera is the original voice and beat of Rare Earth, a very hip band of musicians that played an incredible mix of music comprised of rock, funk, soul, and psychedelic fusion.

Rivera (stage name) aka Peter Hoorelbeke was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of eleven years old, Pete received his first drum set and practiced to the likes of Glen Miller, Sammy Kaye, and Stan Kenton. The first rock ‘n’ roll records that he purchased were “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard and “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins. It was the charisma of Elvis Presley that inspired Pete into becoming a performer, but it was the Detroit music scene inspired by R&B and Soul music that would define Pete’s future.

The Sunliners were formed in 1960. The band had been playing “Get Ready” for three years on the club circuit. The Sunliners became a smash in Detroit, but also performed at the hippest nightclubs in New York City. At the height of the bands success … Motown took notice and signed them to a recording contract. The Sunliners changed their name to Rare Earth and their song “Get Ready” (The albums long version was reduced for radio airplay) caught fire at top black radio stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. as a single. After gaining notoriety on the R&B charts, “Get Ready” began to climb on the pop charts, finally reaching #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Peter Rivera and Rare Earth became superstars and a part of the Motown legacy.

Rivera became the undisputed leader of Rare Earth, the only white band to score hits with the Berry Gordy, Jr. Motown Record label … “Get Ready,” “I’m Losing You,” “Born To Wander,” “Hey Big Brother,” and “I Just Want To Celebrate” were all Top 40 hits. The albums … Get Ready (1969), and the live double-album set Rare Earth In Concert (1971) won double platinum. Ecology (1970) and One World (1971) achieved single platinum, Willie Remembers (1972) and Ma (composed and produced by Norman Whitfield -1973) went gold.

In 1974, Rare Earth was the opening act for the California Jam …sharing the stage with Earth Wind & Fire, The Eagles, Seals & Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Peter Rivera and drummers of his sort are an enigma, and part of a very elite group. Rivera plays drums and sings lead vocals at the same time. But Rivera is an exceptional drummer; I would rank Pete in the top 20 of all-time … that’s how good he is. But Rivera is also an extraordinary and soulful lead singer. He’s also a songwriter and has written two of the most underrated and heartfelt compositions in the bands history … “The Seed” and “If I Die” (both from the One World album, released in 1971).

After several futile attempts to rejuvenate the band and tour, Peter Rivera left Rare Earth for good in 1983.

In 1992, Peter Rivera formed the Classic Rock All Stars. The core lineup became Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf), Mike Pinera (Blues Image, Iron Butterfly & Alice Cooper), and Dennis Noda (Cannibal & the Headhunters). The band became very successful and toured extensively until Dennis Noda’s death, and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to Jerry Corbetta.

Although Rare Earth was at the height of its success between 1970 to the mid 70s, a resurgence of their material has been spotlighted on countless advertisements, television shows, movie trailers and motion pictures. “I Just Want To Celebrate” was featured on advertising campaigns for AT&T and the Ford Motor Company, and the tune was highlighted in the motion pictures … Three Kings, Tropic Thunder, A Knights Tale, and most recently at the end of The Expendables 2 to name just a few. “I Just Want To Celebrate” was penned by renowned songwriters Dino Fekaris and Nick Zesses. The song was released on the One World album in 1971 and was a #7 hit on the Top 40 charts.

Rare Earth’s version of “Get Ready” has also been widely exhibited on advertisements, TV, and film. The song was written by another Motown legend Smoky Robinson, and became huge hits for both The Temptations (#29 hit in 1966) and Rare Earth (#4 hit in 1970). Rare Earth’s 21:32 minute version on the album Get Ready gained cult status, somewhat like the album version of Iron Butterfly’s mesmerizing psychedelic rock masterpiece, “In-A- Gadda-Da-Vida.”

Rare Earth has sold over 30-million records worldwide and was inducted into The Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.

Rare Earth continues to tour without original singer and drummer Peter Rivera. The current Rare Earth features two longtime members … Saxophonist Gil Bridges and guitarist Ray Monette.

Although those classic Rare Earth hits continue to inspire numerous generations, there’s been a reluctant effort to report about the man behind the music, or more specifically …behind the drum kit and microphone.

Peter Rivera lives in Spokane, Washington. He’s co-written a book entitled “Born To Wander” his Autobiography and story of Rare Earth. He’s currently touring with a new band of talented musicians and has released an unplugged CD called, ‘Been There ...Doin’ This’ –that includes all of the Rare Earth classic hits.
Rivera recently wrote and released an emotional music video entitled, “Look What We’ve Done” that sums up the collapsed Detroit economy in a song. It’s an incredible composition sung to rare video footage of a barren city captured by Pete’s son. The song also mirrors the economy for the rest of the nation.

Here’s an in-depth interview with the original lead singer and drummer for Rare Earth and longtime member of the Classic Rock All StarsPETER RIVERA.
Ray Shasho: Hi Pete, I know you’ve been pouring concrete outside your home, what kind of project are you working on?
Peter Rivera: “I have a driveway that comes up from the street into a two car garage and its all asphalt except for the porch. This was a very old house that was abandoned and I rehabbed the whole house. It’s a small house for me and my wife, but just perfect for us, and I have a studio in here. The driveway was all asphalt and we have these big trees and everything was bumpy and water just sat on it and just ridiculous. So, I finally bit the bullet and said it’s got to be done, so they put in a whole walkway around the house, a driveway, and the two car garage … and it’s all beautiful. It was a big job, we got rained out two days ago and it poured yesterday. So, it’s finally done, and I was out there powerwashing and cleaning all that crap up.”
Ray Shasho: So, you’re living in Spokane, Washington now?
Peter Rivera: “I was in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho which is about thirty miles from Spokane, and lived there in the 90s for a few years raising the kids, but once they took off and went to college, then we went back to LA in 2003, and then came up here in 2009.”
Ray Shasho: Are your children close by or scattered around the country?
“I’ve got one son in Vero Beach, Florida and he and his wife are entrepreneurs in the medical billing world. My other son is a professional photographer and has done all my video work, and loves baseball so much that he goes off and plays every summer for these teams that pay him really good. He’s the Independent league all-time homerun hitter. He plays for the Somerset Patriots. My daughter is married and teaches fastpitch softball. She played in Europe and Holland for four years, and played on The Dutch National Team. When she came back, she was the pitching coaching for The University of Tampa, and then left Florida and came out here. She has her own academy now and teaches fastpitch.”
Ray Shasho: I’ve noticed on your website that you’ve started to pick up a bunch of new gigs around the country.
Peter Rivera: “Next Thursday, I’m playing at this show called ‘Pig Out in the Park’ in Spokane, Washington and the whole city turns out for it. It’s a four-day event and we’re going to be doing Thursday night which is the opening of the big stage, and it should be a great crowd and a lot of fun. Then I’ll be going to Kansas City for a private show and then a couple of other shows … but always working on shows and never know when they’re exactly going to popup.”
Ray Shasho: Back in the Rare Earth days, you guys were very popular here in Florida …especially Miami.
Peter Rivera: “Yea, Miami Marine Stadium, and in Ft Lauderdale, and we played Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa, Jacksonville a bunch of times … Florida was a great state for us. It wasn’t too bad when you were leaving two feet of snow in Detroit and headed down for Florida.”
Ray Shasho: Your latest CD is a collection of Rare Earth classic material performed unplugged. Are you currently performing an unplugged setlist onstage?
Peter Rivera: “I’ve got two configurations of what I do … I go out there unplugged with Joe Brasch on the acoustic guitar and Danny McCollim on keyboards, and I play percussion … you may have seen that video on my website … and we do that show.”

“Then we also do a show where there’s seven of us, and we’re fully plugged in, and I’ve got a couple of girls singing background, we’ve got guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, percussions, and the nucleus of the show is the Rare Earth hits.”

“So we do those in both configurations. The unplugged allows us the opportunity to stretch out a bit, and it’s a very intimate kind of situation where it kind of draws the crowd in. The crowd has commented many times that they really have a nice chance to listen to us and hear everything clear. And the big band … that’s the big band … here we go. And some places want the big band, the problem is, they don’t want to pay for the big band because we have seven airfares and seven hotel rooms, and it’s just lots of money. That’s one of the reasons I went with the trio.”

“I love the trio more than the big band because we have so much fun together; it gives me more time to talk with the folks in the audience and be intimate without the distraction of six other people standing around on stage while I’m talking. It’s a different thing but still the same material, and the same impact. The unplugged is real strong because I play a bass drum too while I’m playing congas. We played to 3,500 people in Michigan a couple weeks ago and it was just awesome. Sometimes buyers, they think in their mind, unplugged … aw man; it’s an acoustic guitar and a bongo player. And I say it’s not a coffee house kind of thing, it’s a full out show.”
Ray Shasho: A very powerful music video that you wrote and performed most recently is “Look What We’ve Done.”
Peter Rivera: “Look What We’ve Done” was actually spurred onto me by my good friend in Detroit. He’s been in the car business since we came out of high school, and of course I went towards music and he went that way, and after all these years he’s a pretty big time guy in Detroit. With all the problems that came … people losing jobs, and the auto industry shutting down … he use to say to me, “Man, look what we’ve done to ourselves, you’ve got to write a song about that, I’m really upset about it.” I said Aw Rick I don’t know. So, he’d talk to me and kept telling me to write a song about that.”

“So one day, I got this idea and wrote that song. Then I called Rick back and said here it is. He said, “Okay where can we get video?” So I got my son, who is a photographer, and he shot all the video and did all the editing, and of course …we did the song. We went to Detroit for about three or four days and shot all the video, he put it altogether and we put it out there …“Look What We’ve Done.” On that video … it shows three little houses in a row and the third house on the right was the house I grew up in, that was our little brick cubicle.”

“I think it’s a pretty cool song and it’s still holding up right now. It may have taken place in Detroit but really it’s widespread, it’s like a tsunami wave over the country. It affected a lot of people when Detroit shuts down … I mean the ripple effect is incredible. I’ve been trying real hard to get that song more and more exposure, even to the political arena. I had a guy come up to me in Michigan who is the president of the UAW and he said, “Man, I want to use that song on our website at our next convention,” and I said … be my guess, that’s what it’s for. I think it’s just a good song for addressing that social issue, and we do it at all our shows.”
Ray Shasho: Pete, I also enjoyed your book “Born to Wander.”
Peter Rivera: “I was going to do a sequel to it and just leave all the pages blank. (All laughing)”

“But I left off in the book with the Classic Rock All Stars … and sadly, Jerry Corbetta has Alzheimer’s now, and Dennis Noda on bass …he committed suicide, and I didn’t want to keep going with Mike Pinera, I’ve been with him for sixteen years … I just want to be doing what I’m doing now. I’m more peaceful now and can choose dates when I want to, when they come in. It’s not like I want to be the big baseball bat swinging boss, but I do like the fact that I can make the final decision. And after sixteen years, it was a democracy of sometimes who lobbied the most, and I don’t want to live that way in a band …so I’m not.”
Ray Shasho: So I’m assuming that you’re still not talking with Gil Bridges and Ray Monette? (Ex Rare Earth bandmates)
Peter Rivera: “No we’re not. With Ray, a little bit through social media and Rare Earth forums …you sounded great on that … and I hope you’re doing well. Just stuff like that …but with Gil, absolutely no contact at all. It was in the book on how all that happened. A couple of booking agents said, we could probably get you a bunch of dates if you’d only get back together with Rare Earth, and I said, I don’t think it’s going to happen because we’ve kind of washed each other out. So they went to Gil and he said, “I’ll go to my deathbed before I reunite like that.”
Ray Shasho: It’s amazing because you guys were together since The Sunliners.
Peter Rivera: “Yea, but when you’re in a group and there’s a particular person that you are not necessarily tight with and you kind of pretend that you are for the sake of the group. And if you peel back all the other group members and these two members are standing there and you have no real reason to be buddies because you are just totally different … that’s what happened. It sounds childish and it probably is … but, it is what it is …which is a song that I’m writing right now.”
Ray Shasho: I had a similar conversation with Mark Farner … but as music fans, we’re always hoping for reunions from bands like Rare Earth or Grand Funk Railroad. It would certainly be huge for today’s music scene, but just a shame that it’s not going to happen.
Peter Rivera: “I think what happens is when you initially break off you say okay that’s it. Then somebody does something, and somebody retaliates, and somebody retaliates again, and then it gets out of hand and you look at it and say …wow, even if we wanted to we couldn’t repair this because you did all this to me since we broke up, and then the other person says you did all that to me since we broke up, and it just gets worse and worse.”

“I know Mark Farner real well and know Don Brewer, and I’d never say to Don Brewer … hey how’s Mark, or when are you guys going to get back together, because I know the story, I worked with Mark. He told me; every time I put down Mark Farner/Grand Funk … I get a letter. You know Don Brewer is a lawyer. So if Mark Farner does one thing out of line …boom, he gets a threatening letter. So it gets to the point, okay, I’ll just do it on my own and won’t use the name and stuff like that, and you go on with life.”

“An agent I was just talking with said …if Grand Funk Railroad were to get together, they could get them six and seven times the money, probably get up to $150,000 a night in certain places, maybe other countries, if they were reunited … but they aren’t going to do it.”
Ray Shasho: I was delightedly surprised to hear “I Just Want To Celebrate” at the end of The Expendables 2. I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard that tune on advertisements, TV and movies.
Peter Rivera: “It’s amazing how much they use it. Recently, I heard Nicorette and Hershey’s S’mores using it as a re-record. But on The Expendables 2 my daughter said it was our version that’s in there, so it’s time for me to call the Screen Actors Guild and say, hey … where’s my little money? And it aint much I tell you.”
Ray Shasho: The ways it’s been played, you’d think you were making millions.
Peter Rivera: “Well I didn’t write the song … the writers are doing really well, but the only time that I get paid is like when they did the AT&T commercial, and the way you get paid on that is at the time we recorded the song. On that particular night there was a union contract issued and we got scale for the union contract. So all they’re required to do is pay you scale again, the same amount as forty years ago, but because they play it in so many markets you get scale here, and here, and here … and so it’s pretty substantial when the AT &T commercial comes out. I got several-several thousands of dollars for that one, when they do a movie its several hundred dollars.”
Ray Shasho: Two of my favorite Rare Earth tunes are Peter Rivera compositions … “The Seed” and “If I Die.”
Peter Rivera: “It’s really great that you picked out those two songs. I’ll listen to them once in awhile and say … not bad! Not bad! I played a show a few years back for the Viet Nam Vets, it was amazing, a couple thousand people there and they stood up tents and everything, and it looked like the show MASH. They were driving jeeps around and dressed in camouflage clothing, they do these ceremonial tributes to the guys who have fallen, and have the portable wall there. It’s really an emotional kind of gig. They insisted when they hired us that we played “If I Die.”
Ray Shasho: Is “If I Die” solely about the Viet Nam War?
Peter Rivera: “It was just a song about guys going off to war, and it just happened to be in 1971 during the Viet Nam war.”
Ray Shasho: Are you disappointed that you didn’t get to write more of the music with Rare Earth?
Peter Rivera: “Motown was always trying to find us writers, the only reason those songs came out is … Tony Clarke was the producer of The Moody Blues and Motown brought him in to do an album on us. Tony came in with his ideas from England and all that, and Motown just didn’t understand it, but we were diggin’ it. So we were in the studio and started writing. Everyone in the band started writing ideas down and I did “If I Die” and “The Seed.” Tony was axed from the project and they handed it over to Tom Baird. And Tom really liked the songs, so we went in and completed them and it came out on the One World album. So that’s how those songs came out.”

“Motown had that machinery where a producer got an idea about an artist, once he got the okay from the committee, he’d go in and do some tracks on that artist and then the committee would say okay we like the tracks now you can put the singer on them … they did it in steps like that. The writers were all over the place trying to find songs for their artists. So when we came, they kind of looked over our shoulders and said we’ve got to get some songs for these guys from these writers. We were sitting there going; well we want to write stuff too, we had some ideas but it really wasn’t too approved of in the first couple of albums.”

“We did Tom Baird songs, which were great, “Born To Wander” and some of that, and then Norman Whitfield was brought in because they thought the Ecology album wasn’t going to be that strong, and Whitfield came in and did “I’m Losing You.” Between “I’m Losing You” and “Born to Wander” there were two producers. Then when we did the One World album, it was back to Tom, and he was cool enough to like “If I Die” and “The Seed.” After that we did the Rare Earth In Concert album and then it was time to do another album.”

“We got in to do Willie Remembers with Tom Baird and I remember the day we finished that album, we were loving it because we had some songs on there. We were diggin’ the album and walked in, and Suzanne de Passe who was Berry Gordy’s right hand man just looked at us and said, “Now that you’ve got that out of your system, we ought to go and do a real album.” When Willie Remembers came out it didn’t get any promotion at all, and that’s when they said the only way to save a dying ship was to bring Norman Whitfield in.”

“Motown thought the only redemption to our career was Norman Whitfield because he had, “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” “Ball Of Confusion,” “Just My Imagination” and he was Norman Whitfield of Motown. Norman was a great guy, a great producer, and rest his soul, but the political side of it back then was … they just didn’t trust anybody except in their own stable of people. So Norman came in and we did the Ma album. I always called it the Norman Whitfield album played by Rare Earth. And you didn’t get the essence of Rare Earth. As a result, Ma got just a little bit of attention but nothing serious, and we didn’t have the hits, so things just started getting worse. So after Ma came out that was pretty much it man.”
Ray Shasho: So do you think it was good decision to sign with Motown?
Peter Rivera: “It was a great decision because we had nothing else; we were a band in Detroit playing in the clubs, and the whole Motown experience came about not because they were out hunting for bands and they found us, and not because we had 4- million hits on You Tube, because none of that existed, we were a hot band in Detroit that’s true, but like I said in the book … Gil’s friend wanted to manage us and he had a friend that was a hairdresser (salon owner), he did Berry Gordy’s ex- wife’s hair. As soon as the manger got Berry involved to get us into Motown, and we signed at Motown, he blew off the hairdresser. The hairdresser guy became friends of mine and he would later say that they would have meetings with him on how to divide and conquer the band, because he wanted to split me and Gil up.”

“Was it a good decision to sign with Motown? …Yea, because you don’t pass up an opportunity like that. And when they invited us down to the studio, we packed up our stuff and went down there and played into the wee hours of the morning for a week and did the, Get Ready album, and well … what’s going to happen now? Well nothing happened for two or three months, and all of a sudden somebody in Baltimore played it, somebody in Washington D.C. played it, and something started from that, and the whole rest of the story takes place.”
Ray Shasho: Rare Earth was aligned perfectly to be spotlighted on album rock FM radio stations in the 70s. The band had some incredible jams on those albums that included hard rock and psychedelic fusion. I think the turning point was the Norman Whitfield era.
Peter Rivera: “I think where Motown made a mistake, was when they panicked and they brought in Norman Whitfield, and once you’re not selling records with the company, it’s like nobody wants you anymore. And then we were having internal problems with jealousy and there were drugs involved and stuff like that, and everybody was acting crazy and it just kind of went away.”

“But what should have happened …I believe the management should have taken us all to some house somewhere and said, okay look guys, here’s what’s happening … you need to put all this stuff aside …almost sequestered us somewhere. Then leave us alone with Tom Baird in the studio and give us a month to see what we can come up with, as well as listen to some songs from other writers. Because it got to a point where the writers didn’t want to give you anything from drawer A, they’ll give you the drawer B stuff, but once you get a hit … here comes all the stuff out of drawer A, once you stop selling records that drawer is closed again, they’re looking around to give other people those songs to because other people are happening and relative to what’s going on. So it was harder for us to get songs.”

“But you look back at forty years ago and say … it is what it is … Now, I’m sitting here trying to book a trio. But I’m real happy with what’s happened. I’m 67 years old now and I look back on it now … and I was just at dinner at my doctor’s house … and we’re riding our Harley’s up to northern Canada tomorrow and gone four days. But we were talking last night, and reminiscing about the past … I look back and it was just great! I was just so thankful for having lived through it, and I’ll never be able to explain it to everybody. How fortunate was I to live through all that, and maybe it’s unfortunate that I can’t continue to do that, but I don’t need all that notoriety anymore. My life is balanced out, I’ve got family and I’m happy.”

“Mark Farner and I were talking … we believe that we’ve got another hit in is, and we have to believe that always, because that’s what keeps you going. It may never happen but once you lose that feeling …I think that’s why guys commit suicide or turn to serious drugs or alcohol and just give up. Sometimes it’s tough when you sit there and go … what good am I anymore? You have to be careful because when you’ve had a run at notoriety and fame and all that stuff, you have to be careful that it doesn’t go to your head in a certain way, so when it’s not there … you just can’t live with yourself. Or you have the risk of getting hopeless.”

“Eddie Guzman (Longtime Rare Earth conga player) was a diabetic and he was drinking, I went out to see him shortly before he passed and I looked at him and said …Eddie, what are you doing man? But he just drank himself to death. Mark Olsen (Longtime Rare Earth Keyboardist) wouldn’t stop drinking either and he had all these problems …and I said Mark, you’re a good looking guy, you have a beautiful wife, a daughter … what’s going on here? He just couldn’t stop drinking. I get moments when I’m just kind of down and I go … wow man, what I’m doing now is just a futile attempt … but then the next day I go wait a minute … I’ll hear something like … it is what it is and I’ll start writing that song.”
Ray Shasho: Pete, what was the thought process when Motown created the Rare Earth record label?
Peter Rivera: “Motown wanted to do this white-rock-FM-label and they didn’t have a name for it. So we suggested, why don’t you call it Rare Earth Records, and a friend of ours actually drew the picture (that tree) on the record label. Nobody knew what they were doing back then … there was Gordy Records, Motown Records, and there was Tamla Records, and they’ve been in existence for years doing things a certain way and all of a sudden we were coming out saying things like posters and artwork on our album covers and they didn’t know from all this. So they bought a lot of our suggestions and when we said Rare Earth Records … they said we liked that. Then they bought several masters from groups from England. They thought …anything from England sells so let’s buy some English groups. It became a stepping stone for a lot of well-known groups. (Some artists on the Rare Earth label …The Pretty Things, UFO, Toe Fat (became Uriah Heep) and Stoney & Meatloaf). So we were like the favorite baby of that group.”
Ray Shasho: I watched Rare Earth perform at the Baltimore Civic Center back in 1973 with Funkadelic and the Ohio Players, to a sold out arena of 13,000 people. My friend and I were the only white folk there. Being an all white band, did you ever receive any kind of racial tension while headlining a predominately black concert lineup or audience?
Peter Rivera: “Never. As a matter of fact for the first year after “Get Ready,” ninety percent of the audiences we played were a black audience in the big cities. It was just phenomenal and we had a great time man. Everybody was just so nice to us and there was no racial crap at all, we were out there doing what we did and they loved what we were doing. It was just a great time and I had a ball. People in the big cities seemed to be a lot looser than out in the outlying areas.”

“One time when we were just beginning and “Get Ready” came out, we got this job offer to play a place in Washington, D.C. and it was a downstairs club in a totally black community. We pulled in and it was only twenty minutes from Georgetown, and a couple of the guys got really nervous. We went back to the hotel after the soundcheck and they said, man, I’m not playing there … they were scared. The owner of the club and his assistant came to our hotel and said, “Look you guys, we know that you may be feeling funny about this or that but we assure you that nothing is going to happen to you, people are going to love the fact that you are there, please come to the show, we promise they’ll be no problems whatsoever. So we went over there and we did the first nights show and I think we played there a week and had a phenomenal time. After that, we never had a problem with our own anxiety and got out of that judgmental attitude right away.”
Ray Shasho: Who were some of your friends from the Motown days?
Peter Rivera: “David Ruffin was a really cool dude, he use to come into the club where we played. We’d get him up on stage and he’d sing with the band. I’d been over his apartment a couple of times and hung with him a bit, but kind of stayed away because there was a little too much crazy stuff going on for me.”

“But we knew Marvin Gaye really well, he’d be in the next studio from us and we’d talk to him in the hallway. I was in the studio when Stevie Wonder was twelve years old, he was singing songs for the Fingertips album and I was watching him. And Smokey Robinson was very nice to us, Levi Stubbs was great … everybody we met was very nice and cordial to us. They would come in the studio while we were recording …playing and singing while some megastar is there watching through the glass was kind of intimidating sometimes.”

“Berry Gordy didn’t want to have too much to do with us.”
Ray Shasho: You wrote a letter to the Motown museum for not including Rare Earth anywhere inside the building?
Peter Rivera: “I’m out there on the road … this is years ago, and Motown was having a 25th anniversary and we weren’t even invited. Then the 50th anniversary came and we weren’t on that either. It was just a couple of years ago and I was back in Detroit shooting for the “Look What We’ve Done” video and my son was there of course, and we went over to Motown to take a picture and he said, “Huh, Motown … it’s just like a house? I said, yea. So he took some video and then I said let’s go on in. So we went in, and I had Joe Brasch with me and my son, and I started pointing out … this is studio ‘A’ and it’s in time capsule. I told them I use to set up my drums right over there and we looked in the control room and my son says, “Wow this is amazing” … because to see a studio like that now is like prehistoric. So we walked around the hallways of the place where they have all the displays and everything and kept looking and looking … and there was nothing there of Rare Earth. My son looks to me and says, “Don’t you have any of your stuff in here dad?” I said …well …I guess not son.”

“So I wrote that letter two years ago. The other day I came across that letter and I thought …I’m going to post it on Facebook, and I got about fifty replies from people who were just outraged by it. I just did it to get it off my chest and get it out there. But you know what …it is pretty bad; Mark Olson’s kids, Eddie Guzman’s kids, even John Persh … these guys are all deceased. Just put one or two of our album covers in there and say Rare Earth was here. It would be great if my grandson saw it one day. I just thought that it was pretty flaky. I don’t want to make too much of it because pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but I just thought … legacy, legacy, legacy, and why not? So I wrote the letter, I’m not sure what it’s going to do? To not acknowledge us doesn’t take away from them, it just adds to them we think … but maybe they don’t see it that way.”
Ray Shasho: Pete ... final thoughts?
Peter Rivera: “I put thirteen new songs on CD Baby over the past year, and you can hear previews on CD Baby. I’ll be putting one minute previews on my website and my other website So I’m in the process of doing that and there are quite a few songs that I feel really strong about. And we’ll see what comes out of my little studio in the springtime, because the wintertime is when I’ll be in there.”
Ray Shasho: Thank you so much Pete for spending time with me today and especially for all the fantastic Rare Earth music over the years, and we’re looking forward to some great new songs by Peter Rivera.
Peter Rivera: Thanks buddy …take care!

Peter Rivera official website
Peter Rivera music website
Peter Rivera new music on CD Baby …
Purchase Peter Rivera’s Autobiography and story about Rare Earth at

Contact classic rock music journalist RAY SHASHO at

Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’ -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at or -Support Ray so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting. 
~~Pacific Book Review says Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. I found Check the Gs to be pure entertainment, fantastic fun and a catalyst to igniting so many memories of my own life, as I too am within a few years of Ray. So to all, I say if you have a bit of grey hair (or no hair), buy this book! It’s a great gift for your “over-the-hill” friends, or for their kids, if they are the history buffs of younger generations trying to figure out why we are the way we are.

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