Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicago - Macho Pop-Rockers Of America

Chicago, one of the most enduring pop-rock acts in America, comes to mind again, since its former lead singer and founder member Peter Cetera [yes, he who once had an affair with “Dr Quinn” Jane Seymour] will be performing in Genting Highlands next March.

Here’s an article about Chicago and its members, with help from Wikipedia.

Chicago is a rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, the United States.

The band began as a politically charged rock band and later moved to a softer sound, and produced a number of hit ballads.

It had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Second only to the Beach Boys in terms of singles and albums, Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful US pop-rock groups.

The leading US singles charting group of the 1970s, Chicago has sold over 120 million albums worldwide, scoring 22 gold, 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum albums.

It has charted five No. 1 albums and has had 21 top 10 hits.

The band was formed by DePaul University music students who played at clubs on and off campus.

Initially known as The Big Thing, Chicago’s original members were saxophonist Walter Parazaider, trombonist James Pankow, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, guitarist Terry Kath, keyboardist Robert Lamm, drummer Danny Seraphine and bassist Peter Cetera.

A year after its formation, The Big Thing moved to Los Angeles, California under the guidance of its manager James William Guercio.

It subsequently changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority, since Chicago was its place of birth.

Chicago Transit Authority released its first, self-titled album in 1969.

The album included a number of pop-rock gems — Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Beginnings and Questions 67 And 68.

Soon after the album's release, the band's name was shortened to simply Chicago, when the actual Chicago Transit Authority threatened legal action.

The band's popularity exploded with the release of its second album, which included several top 40 hits.

This second album titled Chicago 2, was the group's breakthrough album.

The centrepiece track was a 13-minute suite composed by James Pankow called Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon (the structure of this suite was inspired by Pankow's love for classical music).

There were also two top 10 hits, the crescendo-filled Make Me Smile and ballad Colour My World, both sung by Terry Kath.

Among the other popular tracks were Kath's 25 Or 6 To 4 (a reference to a songwriter trying to write at 25 or 26 minutes to 4 in the morning, sung by Cetera) and the lengthy war protest song It Better End Soon.

The band recorded and released music at a rate of at least one disc per year from its third album in 1971 on through the 1970s.

During this period, the group's album titles consisted of the band's name followed by a number indicating the album's sequence in the group's canon.

The two exceptions were the band's fourth album, Chicago At Carnegie Hall and 12th album Hot Streets.

In 1971, the four-volume Chicago At Carnegie Hall was launched. It consisted of live performances, mostly of music from its first three albums, from a week-long run at the famous venue.

Chicago was the fourth rock band after The Beatles (1964), The James Gang (1969) and Led Zeppelin (1969) to perform in Carnegie Hall.

Chicago 5 in 1972 featured Saturday In The Park, a hit song composed and sung by Lamm.

In 1973, the group's manager Guercio produced and directed Electra Glide In Blue, a movie about an Arizona motorcycle policeman.

The movie starred Robert Blake, and featured Cetera, Kath, Loughnane and Parazaider in supporting roles.

The group also appeared prominently on the movie's soundtrack.

1973's Chicago 6 topped the charts with Feelin' Stronger Every Day and Just You N Me.

Chicago 7, the band's double-disc 1974 release, featured the Cetera-composed Wishing You Were Here, sung by Terry Kath and Cetera with background vocals by The Beach Boys.

Chicago 7 also provided I've Been Searchin' So Long, which started as a soft ballad and culminated in a hard-rock conclusion.

Happy Man was covered by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

The group’s 1975 release Chicago 8 featured the political allegory Harry Truman and the nostalgic Pankow-composed Old Days.

In 1976, Cetera's slow, exquisite ballad If You Leave Me Now climbed to the top of the charts.

The song also won Chicago its only Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1977.

The group's 1977 release, Chicago 11, included Cetera's hit ballad Baby, What A Big Surprise.

In 1978, Chicago parted ways with its manager Guercio, and Kath died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound while playing Russian roulette.

Chicago decided upon guitarist, singer and songwriter Donnie Dacus as Kath’s replacement, but he left a year later to be replaced by Bill Champlin.

The group’s 1978 album Hot Streets had a hit in Alive Again.

In 1982, David Foster became Chicago’s producer and came up with the group’s 16th album. It featured the monster hit Hard To Say I’m Sorry and Love Me Tomorrow.

In 1984, Chicago 17 became the band’s biggest selling album and produced two top 10 singles You're The Inspiration and Hard Habit To Break.

Stay The Night and Along Comes A Woman were also prominent hits. Cetera’s brother Kenneth performed as a percussionist in the album.

In 1981, Cetera released a self-titled solo album. He released another, Solitude Solitaire in 1985 which spawned the hit song Glory Of Love (from The Karate Kid Part 2).

After Solitude Solitaire, Cetera quit Chicago. The band roped in Jason Scheff, the son of Elvis Presley’s bassist Jerry Scheff as his replacement.

In 1986, Chicago 18 spawned the hit songs Will You Still Love Me and If She Would Have Been Faithful and a high-tech version of 25 Or 6 To 4.

Scheff later introduced former Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band guitarist Dawayne Bailey to the band. They had played in various bands together prior to joining Chicago.

Bailey became an official member of Chicago in 1990, four years after Scheff.

In 1988, the band replaced producer Foster with Ron Nevison and topped the charts again with the Diane Warren-composed single Look Away, in Chicago 19.

Chicago 19 saw Champlin perform as lead vocalist for the first time.

In 1990, Seraphine quit Chicago and was replaced by Tris Imboden, the longtime drummer of Kenny Loggins.

Chicago was recognised with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 1992.

In 1993, Chicago recorded its 22nd album Stone Of Sisyphus.

In 1995, the band incorporated Big Band music in its album Night And Day. The album contained covers of songs recorded by Sarah Vaughan, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington.

The album also featured guest appearances by Paul Shaffer of The Tonight Show With David Letterman and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.

Keith Howland joined the band as guitarist in 1995 to replace Bailey.

In 1998, Chicago released Chicago 25: The Christmas Album, which mixed traditional holiday favourites with an original Lee Loughnane composition.

It went gold in the US and featured Howland's first, and to date only, lead vocal on a Chicago record.

Biographies Of Selected Members Of Chicago

Peter Cetera
Born on September 13, 1944, Peter Cetera is of Polish, Lithuanian and Hungarian ancestry.

He learnt to play the guitar at 11 and prior to joining Chicago, he played with a rock band called The Exceptions.

The Exceptions released two albums.

The first song he wrote for Chicago was Where Do We Go From Here?

His biggest singing and songwriting accomplishment with Chicago came in 1976 with If You Leave Me Now.

Other notable songs he wrote for Chicago were Happy Man, Wishing You Were Here, Baby What A Big Surprise, You’re The Inspiration, Stay The Night, Hard Habit To Break, Along Comes A Woman and Love Me Tomorrow.

His second solo album Solitude Solitaire featured, besides the chart-topping Glory Of Love, The Next Time I Fall, a duet with Gospel-pop singer Amy Grant.

The album sold a million copies.

His third solo album One More Story was released in 1988 and contained the hit singles One Good Woman and Save Me, which also became the original theme song for the television series Baywatch.

In 1977, he was featured as a guest vocalist in Beached, an album by Ricci Martin (the son of Dean Martin) produced by Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys.

In 1978, he sang background vocals on Billy Joel's song My Life.

In 1979, he wrote and sang a duet with Karen Carpenter, Making Love In The Afternoon for her only solo album, which was not released until 1996.

In 1983, he sang Hold Me Till The Morning Comes with vocalist and songwriter Paul Anka.

In 1984, he sang a duet with Japanese singer Naoko Kawai titled Love Assistant.

In 1987, he produced Agnetha Faltskog's third English-language album, I Stand Alone. He co-wrote the title track with Bruce Gaitsch and sang a duet I Wasn't The One Who Said Goodbye with the ex-ABBA member.

In 1989, he had a hit duet with Cher titled After All. It was the theme song from Robert Downey Jr’s film Chances Are.

In 1991, he co-wrote with David Foster and Linda Thompson Voices That Care, a song intended to boost the morale of American troops involved in the invasion of Iraq, and in support of the International Red Cross organisation.

In 1992, he released World Falling Down which had the hit song Restless Heart and Feels Like Heaven, a duet with Chaka Khan.

In 1995, he sang Forever Tonight, a duet with actress Crystal Bernard.

In 1998, he produced country singer Ronna Reeves' first pop album, Day 14. They performed a duet SOS, a cover of ABBA’s hit song.

In 2004, he released a collection of holiday classics, You Just Gotta Love Christmas, which featured background and duet vocals by his eldest daughter Claire.

He has appeared in the film Electra Glide In Blue in 1973 and the television movie Sidney Sheldon’s Memories Of Midnight in 1991.

Robert Lamm
Born on October 13, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York City, Robert William Lamm was raised in Chicago, Illinois.

He studied art in high school, but later pursued a music degree in Roosevelt University, Chicago.

Chicago hits composed by Lamm include Beginnings, Questions 67 And 68, 25 Or 6 To 4, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Another Rainy Day In New York City, Harry Truman and Saturday In The Park.

He has released 10 solo albums, from 1975 to 2008.

One of them was Like A Brother (2000) which featured the late Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys.

Lamm and Peter Cetera were once brothers-in-law. They were married to sisters Julie and Diane Nini, respectively.

Bill Champlin
William Bradford Champlin (born May 21, 1947 in Oakland, California) learnt the piano and guitar in his teens.

His childhood idols were Elvis Presley and Ray Charles.

While in high school, Champlin formed a band, The Opposite Six, which was later renamed The Sons Of Champlin.

The Sons Of Champlin recorded a number of albums, and Champlin also pursued a songwriting career, writing the hit songs After The Love Has Gone (for Earth, Wind And Fire) and Turn Your Love Around (for George Benson).

He won two Grammy Awards in the process.

In 1979, Champlin was approached by REO Speedwagon to add background vocals on some of its songs.

Champlin also collaborated with David Foster, Steve Lukather (of Toto), Lee Ritenour and Barry Manilow, who featured his vocals in his 1982 album Oh, Julie!

Foster produced two solo albums for Champlin, Single and Runaway.

In the 1990s, Champlin released the albums No Wasted Moments, Burn Down The Night, Through It All, He Started To Sing and Mayday.

In 1997, Champlin revived The Sons Of Champlin.

As a member of Chicago (he introduced Foster to the band), Champlin wrote Please Hold On, Remember The Feeling and We Can Stop The Hurtin’.

In 1988, Champlin sang Chicago’s hit songs Look Away, I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love and You're Not Alone. He also sang the theme song for the television series In The Heat Of The Night.

In 1990, Champlin wrote, produced and sang Hearts In Trouble, a song for the movie soundtrack of Days Of Thunder.

He also had a hit duet One More Broken Heart, with Patti LaBelle.

Champlin is married to Tamara Matoesian and they have a son, Will, who is a budding singer and songwriter.

James Pankow
James Carter Pankow (born August 20, 1947) hails from St. Louis, Missouri, but grew up in Chicago.

His father Wayne was a musician. His younger brother John is an actor who has appeared in Beverly Hills Cop, The Secret Of My Success, Batteries Not Included, Monkey Shines, Talk Radio, Life As A House and Bride Wars.

Pankow learnt the trombone at eight and furthered his studies in music at DePaul University.

He also became a member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia musical graduates fraternity.

Since the early 1970s he became a close friend of ex-Eagles guitarist Don Felder.

Pankow has composed many songs for Chicago, including the hits Make Me Smile, Colour My World, Just You N Me, I've Been Searchin' So Long, Old Days, Alive Again and (with Peter Cetera) Feelin' Stronger Every Day.

He has also composed most of Chicago's brass arrangements.

He sang lead vocals for two Chicago songs You Are On My Mind and Till The End Of Time.

Pankow has appeared on several albums for the rock band Toto, including the 1982 Grammy Award-winning Toto 4 and the 2006 album Falling In Between, for which he composed the brass arrangements and performed on the song Dying On My Feet.

Pankow is sometimes regarded as the sexiest man in Chicago, because of his pelvic-thrusting movements.

Lee Loughnane
Lee Loughnane, born on October 21, 1946, learnt the trumpet from his musician father Phillip.

His songwriting contributions for Chicago include Call On Me from Chicago 7 and No Tell Lover from Hot Streets.

Loughnane received his lead vocal debut on the Terry Kath composition Song Of The Evergreens.

He also provided background vocals on several Chicago songs, and the occasional lead vocals on Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! from Chicago 25: The Christmas Album (1998).

In recent years, Loughnane has taken on a growing leadership role in the band.

He is the member of the band who is the most gracious and outwardly friendly during live performances.

He has many prominent relatives in American public life and they include a Chicago police officer, a church leader, an electronics lecturer, a chief financial officer and a librarian in Elmwood Park.

Walter Parazaider
Walter Parazaider (born March 14, 1945) excels in playing the flute, clarinet and saxophone.

He learnt the clarinet at nine, and his childhood heroes were The Beatles.

Parazaider formed Chicago with his childhood pals Danny Seraphine and Terry Kath, as well as Peter Cetera, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane and James Pankow.

Parazaider's compositions for the band include It Better End Soon, Free Country, Aire, Devil's Sweet and Window Dreamin'.

His most recognisable flute solo was in the hit song Colour My World.

Parazaider has been happily married for 40 years and has two children.

Danny Seraphine
Daniel Peter Seraphine (born August 28, 1948) is of Italian ancestry and learnt the drums at DePaul University in his hometown Chicago.

He co-wrote several songs for the band such as Lowdown, Little One, Take Me Back To Chicago, Show Me The Way, Birthday Boy and Street Player.

From the mid-1970s until the early 1980s, Seraphine was the principal owner of B'Ginnings, a large nightclub in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago.

After leaving Chicago, Seraphine became a Broadway producer. He brought the Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams to Broadway following its London run.

He produced the 2008 film Lonely Street.

In 2006, he formed a new band, the California Transit Authority. It released a solo album Full Circle in 2007.

Terry Kath
Terence Alan Kath (January 31, 1946 – January 23, 1978) was a multi-instrumentalist who played the banjo, accordion, bass and drums.

Prior to Chicago, he played lead guitar in Jimmy And The Gentlemen and Jimmy Ford And The Executives with Walter Parazaider.

He died tragically in the prime of his life, when at a party in Don Johnson’s house in Los Angeles, he played Russian roulette and fooled around with a revolver he thought he had unloaded.

Kath is survived by a wife, Camelia Ortiz and a daughter, Michelle (born in 1976). Ortiz later married Kiefer Sutherland.

Jason Scheff
Jason Randolph Scheff (born April 16, 1962 in San Diego, California) is the eldest son of bassist Jerry Scheff, who toured for several years with Elvis Presley.

His brothers Darin and Lauren Scheff are also professional musicians.

Scheff started his professional musical career in 1982 as a member of a Los Angeles based rock band Keane (not to be confused with the British band of the same name).

Chicago chose Scheff as Peter Cetera’s replacement owing to the fact that they closely resembled each other, both physically and vocally (some fans of Chicago likened them to a long lost father and son!).

Scheff has composed several original songs for the band, including What Kind Of Man Would I Be?.

Scheff, along with co-writers Peter Wolf and Ina Wolf, wrote a song in the early 1990s called Bigger Than Elvis, for the album Chicago 22.

The song was about Jerry, and described Jason's memories growing up watching his father play for Elvis on TV and thinking that his father was the big star.

Scheff has also enjoyed limited success as a solo artiste, releasing a CD Chauncy in 1996, as well as several duets released only in Japan.

In 2006, Scheff joined indie supergroup LEO to create the album Alpacas Orgling, a tribute to Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra.