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Creed Bratton was never a household name, but as a member of the Grass Roots, was one of the more widely heard musicians of the late '60s. Born in Sacramento, CA, Bratton took up guitar as a boy and after graduating from high school in 1961, decided to try life as an itinerant musician. While traveling around Europe and the Middle East, he crossed paths with fellow Californian Warren Entner, who also played guitar, and they became a double-act busking for a living as they made their way from country to country. Their hook-up became more lasting after a 1964 run-in with an Israeli entrepreneur, who saw the two as the potential core of an Israeli-based rock & roll band consisting of expatriated Americans. That lasted a few months, with the would-be bandmembers going their separate ways until they got back to America. Bratton, living in Los Angeles in 1965, looked up Entner and told him he was still interested in forming a band and that if they could pull it together, a friend of his could get them a paying gig immediately. So Bratton became the lead guitarist, Entner played rhythm and sang, and Rick Coonce came in on drums and they went through a succession of bassists, including a Japanese-American musician (last name Fukomoto) who later fell victim to the draft. Christened the 13th Floor, and with Rob Grill coming in on the bassist's spot, they played gigs at bars, clubs, and bowling alleys around Los Angeles, trying to get noticed. One aspect of their work that set them apart from a lot of the competition was that the 13th Floor wrote original songs, which they duly recorded and sent in on a demo tape to Dunhill Records, a newly formed label headed by producer Lou Adler. In one of those odd twists of fate, Dunhill was interested in the 13th Floor, but not necessarily in the way they expected. The label wanted to sign them, but offered them a choice -- sign as the 13th Floor and go to work under producer/writers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri using their own name and starting from scratch; or take on the name the Grass Roots, an alias that had been vacated by a previous band offered the same chance (under which Sloan and Barri had produced the Top 30 hit "Where Were You When I Needed You" and an LP in 1966). With Grill taking over as lead singer, they became the Grass Roots and beginning in the spring of 1967 with the number eight hit "Let's Live for Today," enjoyed a string of more than a dozen chart hits through 1973. Bratton played lead while Entner handled the rhythm guitar and some 12-string playing, with Sloan contributing guitar as well on their first two LPs and the accompanying singles. Sloan and Barri also taught the group how to use the studio and some of the ins-and-outs of writing songs. Bratton and Entner co-authored the very good and catchy "Beatin' Round the Bush." The two of them and Grill wrote "No Exit," which appeared on their debut album, Let's Live for Today, by himself the lead guitarist also wrote the harder rocking "House of Stone," which closed the same LP. Bratton's playing was heard on the group's records (especially their album tracks) right up through the Lovin' Things LP, released in early 1969. By that time, the group had settled into a formula for success that precluded the four musicians from manifesting too much individuality, and their music had moved away from its original folk-rock sound to a more pop-soul orientation. Bratton went into acting after leaving the band and has appeared in films including Mask and Heart Like a Wheel, and also continues to write songs. ~ Bruce Eder
William Charles Schneider
February 8, 1943 in Sacramento, CA