In the 1970s, for every swaggering rock band churning out loud and dirty hits, there was a soft rock band keeping the decade mellow. One of the greatest of them all was Bread. They exemplified '70s adult contemporary, hitting the No. 1 spot on the Easy Listening chart over and over.
Led by vocalists Jimmy Griffin and David Gates, Bread recorded delicate, folky love songs that resonated with listeners. On the day Griffin would have turned 70, we're revisiting the four Bread hits that topped the mellowest music chart there is.
Bread in 1971: David Gates, Robb Royer, Jimmy Griffin and Mike Botts (Wikimedia Commons / Elektra Records)
"If" wasn't Bread's first hit single – that was "Make It With You" – but when it was released in 1971, "If" became their first Easy Listening No. 1 and quickly established itself as a wedding-reception favorite. It's been covered by a wide range of admirers, too – Frank Sinatra, Herbie Mann, Andy Williams, and many more.
It was just a few months later that Bread released their next big soft rock hit, "Baby I'm-a Want You" – the title track for a new album.
"The Guitar Man" used unforgettable guitar effects in a tribute to the instrument and its virtuosos.
In late 1972, "Sweet Surrender" became Bread's final No. 1 Easy Listening hit.
Jimmy Griffin died in 2005, joining bandmates Mike Botts and Larry Knechtel – but they've left behind sweet melodies.
Written by Linnea Crowther