“It’s a real kick to know these great guitar players as contributors to the legacy of Grand Funk”: Bruce Kulick retires from Grand Funk Railroad, with Bob Seger guitarist Mark Chatfield taking his place

Bruce Kulick Mark Chatfield
(Image credit: Getty Images / Grand Funk Railroad)

After 23 years, Bruce Kulick has announced his retirement from Grand Funk Railroad. Long-time Bob Seger guitarist, Mark Chatfield, will take his place and is set to make his live debut on January 12 at Ledyard, Connecticut’s Foxwood’s Casino.

The Connecticut show kicks off a six-date tour for the band. It visits New Jersey, Florida, Iowa and Las Vegas before wrapping up at the Hard Rock in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Kulick joined Grand Funk in 2000, replacing Mark Farner. Before that, he was part of Kiss’ no-make-up era in the late ’80s and early ’90s, playing on five albums. He was also a part of Michael Bolton’s touring band.

“I will forever cherish my time in Grand Funk these past 23 years,” says Kulick. “It was a great opportunity for my career, and performing powerful classic hits with Don and Mel was a thrill for me. The crowds sing, dance and reminisce on memories of GFR’s great catalog of songs. Thank you Grand Funk Railroad for 23 years!”

Chatfield first joined Seger’s band in 1983. He briefly stepped away in 2011, returning to the fold six years later. With Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer having been part of the Silver Bullet Band, it’s fitting that their new guitarist is also part of Seger’s lineage.

“Having been friends and bandmates with Bruce Kulick and Mark Chatfield for over 40 years, it is a pleasure and a real kick to know both of these great classic guitar players as contributors to the legacy of Grand Funk Railroad,” says Brewer.

“After 23 years, we respect Bruce’s decision to turn the page and wish him the best in his next chapter. Mel [Schacher, bass] and I are truly excited to now have Mark Chatfield on tour with us and look forward to many awesome Grand Funk Railroad rock & roll shows!”

Talking to Guitar World back in 2014, Kulick explained how he came to be part of the American rock powerhouse, saying: "I met Don Brewer back in the days when I worked with Michael Bolton. Michael had just put out his first solo record [1983’s self-titled release], and we opened for Bob Seger. [At the time, Brewer was drumming for Seger’s Silver Bullet Band.]

"We got to party with the Seger guys and hang out with everybody. And I was always a Grand Funk fan, so it was like, 'Oh, my god, Don Brewer!' So when Grand Funk went through its changes again after 1998, I was on the short list. You never know who you’re working with that even 20 years down the line could be relevant to your career.”

I don’t want a crazy pace, but I’m not retiring. There’s so many other creative things that I want to pursue

Bruce Kulick

Kulick, who was also part of Meat Loaf's live band, played his final Grand Funk show on December 14 in Marietta, Ohio, two days after his 70th birthday. Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock about his departure, he said: “I really wanted to look at what I wanted to do personally and creatively. I’ve always loved playing with Grand Funk, but the time involved became more and more difficult.”

“I don’t want a crazy pace, but I’m not retiring. I just want it only to be about my legacy, my career and everything that means something to me,” he continues.

“I want to continue to be able to put out another solo record. I certainly could be working on a book finally, which I have great stories for. There’s so many other creative things that I want to [pursue]. I want to do more things with my wife. I want to keep the opportunities completely open to [be] performing music that I think people know me for.”

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.