In 1969 six white kids walked into Motown Records and cut a twenty one minute version of The Temptation’s hit record Get Ready. A year later they became one of the biggest bands in America and Motown’s first successful white act. They became so successful that Motown records even named an entire label after them. That band was Rare Earth.
Formed out of the blue collar garages of Detroit, Rare Earth was unlike anything that had come out of Motown before. They created a brand new kind of “blue eye soul” that merged into the harder sound that was winning over the post-Woodstock generation. Louder, edgier and meaner than those before them, Rare Earth was creating a whole new sound by fusing soul music and funk with hard rock. The result was a winning formula, resulting in a string of hits for the group in the early 70’s, including I Just Want to Celebrate, Hey, Big Brother, Born to Wander and (I Know) I’m Losing You.
Although Rare Earth has formed and reformed many times over the decades, it was the powerful voice of singer/drummer Peter Rivera who gave the group the distinctive sound that is immediately identifiable still today. Perched on top of the drums, Rivera kept the pulsating beat while belting out some of the heaviest soul music ever recorded. Staying with the group until 1974, Rivera continued in the music scene ever since, first with his short lived group HUB and headlining The Classic Rock All-Stars throughout the 1990’s. With a booming voice and a huge stage presence, Peter Rivera continues to be one of the most intense performers on the classic rock circuit.
Recently reinventing himself as a solo act, Rivera has been stepping out with his current band while producing new projects including an “unplugged” version of his Rare Earth hits called Been There…Done That, penning an autobiography titled Born to Wander and putting out a new release of original material called Peter Rivera 2.0. This summer Rivera will be touring in the annual Rock n’ Blues Fest alongside The Edgar Winter Band, The Vanilla Fudge and Savory Brown and Kim Simmons. Promising to be one of the most dynamic classic rock tours of 2014, Rivera will be bringing his powerful presence to stages all throughout North America.
I had a chance to talk to Peter Rivera weeks prior to beginning the current tour about his life in music and the rise and fall of Rare Earth and how his career evolved from that point on.