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By Charles Apple

For every successful rock 'n' roll act, there are dozens of bands that make the rounds playing bars, nightclubs and other small venues, hoping to catch a break.

That's just what a small Detroit band called the Sunliners did in the 1960s. The Sunliners would hit the big time in 1968 when they became the first white band signed to the Motown record label. They would change their name to Rare Earth and, with an extraordinary mix of rock and soul, would see their first four albums turn gold or platinum.

The Original Lineup

Gil Bridges

Saxophone, flute, lead vocals

Was with the band from its start in 1968 until his death in 2021 at age 80.

Eddie Guzman


Was with the band until his death in 1993 at age 49.

Peter Rivera

Drums, lead vocals

Was originally known as Peter Hoorelbeke. Left the band in 1974 to form another band with Tom Urso. Rejoined from 1977 to 1984.

Kenny James


Left the band in 1971 and was replaced by Mark Olson. Olson died in 1982.

John Persh

Bass, trombone, vocals

Left the band in 1972 and was replaced by Mike Urso. Persh died in 1981 at age 38.

Rod Richards

Lead guitar, vocals

Left the band in 1971 and was replaced by Ray Monette.

Rare Earth's Recording History

Rare Earth's album charts. Rare Earth singles

See Peter Rivera With A Symphony

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For a number of years now, the original lead vocalist and drummer for Rare Earth, Peter Rivera, has made Spokane his home. He occasionally performs at various venues in the area.

Last year, Rivera sang his Motown hits accompanied by a full symphony of student musicians from Whitworth and Gonzaga universities. He's going to do it again this year, performing two shows Friday and Saturday at the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center.

Expect to hear Rare Earth's big hits along with some new material Rivera says he's ready to preview at the show.

This presentation of the Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages series will benefit music scholarships at Whitworth and Gonzaga universities.

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This edition of Further Review was adapted for the web by Zak Curley.