Five Reasons The Band Chicago Deserves More Respect!

Growing up on a steady diet of Kiss, Cheap Trick and the Ramones, I admit to not being that into the band Chicago.  Back in the '70s, their horn-drenched pop was everywhere and, therefore, worthy of derision on that basis alone.

But then I moved to Chicago and began to see things a different way.

It's one thing to grow up hearing a song like "Saturday In The Park" on the radio, to know the song by heart despite never actually asking to hear it in the first place, to actually spending a Saturday in the park with that special someone and finally realizing just how Peter Cetera, Terry Kath and the rest of the Chicago gang absolutely nailed the joy of care-free summer days in the greatest city in the world.

Sure, the band enjoys playing to packed houses to this day, but Chicago, perhaps more than any other band, deserves more respect than that get and here are ten reasons why:

5. Terry Kath was a MONSTER.

There's a popular story that tells of an awe-struck Jimi Hendrix coming backstage after the band's Whisky show in '68 and being extremely complimentary of Kath's playing.  Now, call me crazy, but if Jimi Hendrix says you're great, you're great.  Kath's command of blues, jazz and rock gave him a style all his own, but, in a band with eight members and just as many musical egos, it wasn't always so easy to see or hear.  That's because Kath's playing was always tasteful.  Though we may love us some Eddie Van Halen riffage as much as the next person, Kath was nothing if not a team player and "server of the song".  He played what the song needed, not what HE needed to prove his musical prowess to the world.

4. 35 Top 40 hit singles (19 of which went Top 10)

Bombarded by artists capable of stretching one hit into an entire career, there's something to be said for a band whose career longevity is actually based on not just one, but NINETEEN trips to the Top 10 over a 21 year period.  Think about how many different flavors of the week and musical fads took place over those three decades and their accomplishments suddenly seem that much more impressive.

3. They met and formed at DePaul University.

When's the last time DePaul University accomplished anything?  Their basketball team, while an elite team when I attended the university, has sucked for the past thirty years, but at least we can be proud of the fact that the band Chicago formed at the university and did much of their early rehearsing on-campus.  Lee Loughnane, Walt Parazaider and producer James Guercio all met at DePaul and, after meeting up with Terry Kath while in Missing Links, Chicago the band was born.  If not for DePaul University, none of this may have ever happened.

2. Their first three albums were DOUBLE-ALBUMS!

It wasn't amazing enough that this unproven band convinced their label, Columbia Records, to let their first album be a two-record set, but went on to release THREE double-albums in a row.  To this day, no other band has come close to equaling this feat.  All three albums went Top 20, with albums II and III going Top 5 and selling over ten million copies combined.

1. The first song on their first album after the death of Terry Kath in '78 - and the first single - was called "Alive Again".

Now, some might call that kind of crass, but not only had the band weathered Kath's sudden death in January of that same year, but also the parting of ways with longtime producer James Guercio.  With Cetera wrapping his sweet, sweet voice around this tune, a new Chicago was born.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

No comments:

Post a Comment