Mark Dawson (The Grass Roots)

By Joe Gagliardo

During his senior year of high school, singer / guitarist Mark Dawson was told by his bassist that he was quitting the band and heading off to college. At the suggestion of the trumpet player, Mark picked up the bass, started playing, and realized how natural it was for him! This decision created a trajectory no one could have predicted.

In the mid-70’s Mark played bass with several area bands in an era when radio rightly supported local artists – much like the 1960s.

Mark’s band Street Kids had their namesake song “Street Kids” on the WKQX 1977 Hometown Album.

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From 1983-1995, Mark was with the All Night News Boys, who had several releases on cassette and CD.

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A few years earlier in 1980, Mark played with Dreamer, and The Loop (WLUP) added the band’s song “Radio” to the Chicago Rocks, Volume One LP.

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In 1995, Mark moved to Florida. As a result of a casual conversation with another customer in a pizza place a few years later, Mark began singing high tenor with a group of vocalists from New York, called themselves Street Lites.  That group focused on doo-wop and Motown and lasted for about eight years, playing along Florida coast.

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In January 2008, Mark received a call from an old Chicago friend, Jim Lenz, who asked him about his familiarity with The Grass Roots’ songbook.  At that point, there was a need to sub for Rob Grill for a handful of shows.  Luckily, Mark loved The Grass Roots from his youth, and was familiar with their music. He was given just four days to learn the show on bass and lead vocals!

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That offer to play a handful of shows led Rob Grill offer Mark the opportunity to stay with the band. Mark ultimately accepted and took over as lead singer in addition to his bass duties.  Mark has been a fixture with The Grass Roots for the last twelve years.

Mark’s first bass was a 1972 Fender Precision, which was his go-to axe for years.  While he owns several vintage basses, his road bass is an Arctic Blue late 90’s Fender Precision that he had put together: Mark changed the neck, added EMG pickups, and a pickguard that showcases the
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Being a bassist and singer, it makes sense that his bass heroes include those players who also sing, including Paul McCartney, Sting, and Geddy Lee.

The Grass Roots continue to tour regularly, often as part of the Happy Together Tour.

Catch them if you can—still a great show.

Check out Mark on bass and vocals: “Midnight Confessions”

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