Saturday, September 7, 2013

Terry Knight and the Pack: I (Who Have Nothing)

For folks in my generation growing up outside of the Rust Belt will equate the song “I (Who Have Nothing)” with Tom Jones’ version from 1970. Jones had the biggest hit with the recording by charting at #14. Those older than me may remember the original 1963 recording by Ben E. King which peaked at #29.

But for those of us who lived from Detroit to Buffalo and from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, the quintessential version of “I (Who Have Nothing)” was recorded by the precursor to Grand Funk Railroad, Terry Knight and the Pack from Flint, Michigan. The band was fronted by future producer and manager of Grand Funk, Terry Knight, and included members Don Brewer on drums and Mark Farner on bass.

While “I (Who Have Nothing),” failed to break the national Top 40, its performance in the Rust Belt brought its overall success to #46 – the band’s highest charting record. For the original version by Ben E. King, songwriters/producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller rewrote the lyrics to an Italian hit “Uno Dei Tanti “(One of Many)” and even used the original backing track from Joe Sentieri’s original 1961 Italian hit for King’s American release.

Over two dozen versions of the song have been recorded with several reaching the Hot 100 charts. Besides King, Terry Knight and the Pack, and Tom Jones; Liquid Smoke took the song to #82 in 1970 and Sylvester peaked at #40 in 1979. My favorite, because I remember hearing it quite often on Pittsburgh radio, was the first popular cover by Terry Knight and the Pack in 1966.

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