Impressed by the rise of folk-rock, songwriters P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri decided to enter that field in 1965 by assembling a group of studio musicians they dubbed The Grass Roots and recorded a song they’d written entitled “Where Were You When I Needed You.” Released as a test to a few San Francisco radio stations, the track sparked enough interest for the team to hire a local band, The Bedouins, rename them The Grass Roots and cut a second, more polished version of their song. That single, released nationally by Dunhill Records, peaked at #28 in the summer of 1966 and sparked a debut Grass Roots album. However, as the former Bedouins wanted to go in a more blues-rock direction that their label wanted, a third line-up of Grass Roots were hired to replace them. They turned out to be most of an unknown L.A. band called The 13th Floor plus bassist and new lead singer Rob Grill.
Grill sang lead on a third version of “Where Were You When I Needed You” (the one that’s on their “Greatest Hits” LP) plus all 20 of The Grass Roots’ other chart hits through 1975. They included the group’s first Top 10 single, 1967’s “Let’s live For Today” (their English language cover of the Italian song “Piangi con me”) as well as “”Things I Should Have Said,” “Midnight Confessions,” “Bella Linda,” “Lovin’ Things,” “The River is Wide,” “I’d Wait A Million Years,” “Heaven Knows,” “Walking through the County,” “Baby Hold On,” “Temptation Eyes,” “Sooner or Later” and “Two Divided By Love.”
As The Grass Roots rocked on, the band gained excellent reviews for their live performances at venues like the Los Angeles Pop Festival, the Miami Pop Festival and the Newport Pop Festival. There were a number of personnel changes before the group finally left their original label home (which by then was ABC Dunhill) in 1974.
Songwriters Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who had written several hits for the band (including their 1971 classic “Two Divided By Love”) then invited The Grass Roots to join the duo’s newly-formed Haven label, which also featured The Righteous Brothers (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven”). Haven released what became the final Grass Roots single to chart, 1975’s “Mamacita.”
Rob Grill, who by then owned The Grass Roots’ name, continued to tour both as a solo artist and with varying line-ups of Grass Roots until his passing in 2011.