A Chicago band that began as a soul band with Charles Colbert on lead, they changed names and became contemporary rockers before another name and personnel change, and many hit records added up to soul legend status. The personnel consisted of Al Ciner (guitar), Chuck Colbert (bass), Lee Graziano (drums), and Gary Loizzo (vocals, guitar). Colbert and Loizzo were the main songwriters and they first recorded on USA Records waxing "I Don't Need Your Help" b/w "Big Bad Wolf" in 1966. They moved around a lot and a second single, "Lonely Soldier's Plea" b/w "So Far Away from Home," appeared on Bell Records the same year. A third and final Gary & the Knight Lites soul edition surfaced on Prime 7 Records, but like the two previous singles ("Will You Go Steady" b/w "I Can't Love You Anymore") only got local and spot play in scattered localities.
They moved to Acta Records, where they had more luck. "Give Two Young Lovers a Chance"/"I Don't Think You Know" was a bust, but a second Acta single, "Step Out of Your Mind," made Chicago's Top Ten and charted at number 24 nationally in 1967 (their biggest seller). Expecting the same success with their third Acta single led to a big disappointment. "Don't Forget About Me" never made the Chicago charts and failed to crack the pop 100, stalling at number 107. By the fourth single, Colbert had left and the band renamed itself the American Breed and scored with "Bend Me, Shape Me," a number five Billboard hit. Unable to follow with another hit, they swung to commercials and added a female singer named Paulette McWilliams. Then came more personnel changes, the sound reverted to soul again, and they emerged as Rufus, with Chaka Khan replacing Williams, and a career deserving of a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction one day. Colbert previously sang with the Trinidads and the Daylighters. ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi