Once upon the ’60s there was a band out of Chicago called the American Breed, and in 1968 they had a big hit with a song called “Bend Me, Shape Me.” Eventually two of the band’s members, Chuck Colbert and Lee Graziano, encountered a bar band called Circus, and added a couple of that band’s members to a lineup that also included two latter-day members of the American Breed. They called the new band Smoke.
By 1970, Smoke had new managers, and a new name … Ask Rufus, which eventually became just plain Rufus. Lineup changes included the departure of Colbert and the addition of Dennis Belfield on bass. The following year the band signed to Epic Records, and following the recording of one unreleased album departed Epic in 1972. That year Graziano left as well, and Rufus added a young singer by the name of Chaka Khan … (more)