“Top U.S. rock band of all time….” – Billboard Magazine*

 

CHICAGO is an American rock band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois.  The self described “rock and roll band with horns” began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock band and later moved to a  predominately softer sound after becoming famous for producing a number of hit ballads.  They had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.  They were second only to the Beach Boys in terms of Billboard singles and albums chart successes among American bands.

 

Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful pop/rock and roll groups of all time.  According to Billboard, Chicago was the leading US singles charting group in their early years and has maintained that momentum during a career that has seen them sell 100,000,000+ records. Including 21 top 10 singles, 5 consecutive no 1 albums, 11 number 1 singles and 5 gold singles.  Amazingly now in their 5th decade of performing, an incredible 25 of their albums have been certified platinum, a feat unmatched by any other American Rock band.  Chicago is the 1st American band to chart 40 albums in 5 decades of performing…a landmark accomplishment.  Chicago’s live 2005 DVD of their epic performance with Earth Wind and Fire was certified platinum in less than two months.

 

CHICAGO has among its decades of awards:                                                                             The American Music Award as America’s favorite rock group.                                      A Grammy for Best Pop Vocal by a Group.                                                                        Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 Artists of all time (they placed #12 and were the #1 American Band on the list*).                                                                                                    Peoples Choice Award as Americas Favorite Musical Group.                                          Awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

 

Not bad for a group of DePaul University students in Chicago in 1967.  The band was formed when two music students who had been playing local late-night clubs recruited a couple of other students from the University and decided to form a new group.  The musicians consisted of Marvin Cantera, Andre Jugo, Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and the last to join the group, Robert Lamm a student from Chicago’s Roosevelt University.  The called themselves The Big Thing and continued playing top 40 hits, but realized that they were missing a tenor voice (Lamm and Kath both sang in the baritone range); the voice they were missing belonged to local bassist Peter Cetera.

 

While gaining some success as a cover band, the group began working on original songs.  In June of 1968 they moved to Los Angeles and signed with Columbia Records and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority.

 

Their first record was released in April 1969 it was a double album–very rare for a first release.  The album featured jazzy instrumentals, extended jams featuring Latin percussion, and experimental, feedback-laden guitar abstraction.  It sold over one million copies by 1970, and was awarded a platinum disc. The band changed their name to CHICAGO and their careers went platinum also.

 

CHICAGO consists of Robert Lamm (vocals and keyboard), James Pankow (trombone and arraignments), Lee Loughnane (Trumpet and composer), and Walter Parasaider (Sax, flute and woodwinds) these four musicians are all founding members of the band.  They have since added Vocalist and bass guitarist Jason Scheff in 1985; Tris Imboden, drummer added in 1996. Keith Howland their lead guitarist joined the band in1995 and the new kid Lou Pardini keyboards and vocals added in 2009.  One of the great successes of the group is their longevity.  

The adjectives “greatest,” “musical icons,” “creative leaders,” “visionaries” are bandied about sometimes indiscriminately.  Van Wezel patrons are fortunate to be able to witness a band for whom those words were created.