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Chicago, long-lived pop-rock group featuring big-band instrumentation. MEMBERSHIP: Robert Lamm, kybd., voc. (b. Brooklyn, Oct. 13, 1944); Terry Kath, gtr., voc. (b. Chicago, Jan. 31, 1946; d. Woodland Hills, Calif., Jan. 23, 1978); Peter Cetera, bs., gtr., voc. (b. Chicago, Sept. 13, 1944); James Pankow, trmb. (b. Chicago, Aug. 20, 1947); Lee Loughnane, trpt., pere, voc. (b. Chicago, Oct. 21, 1946); Walt Parazaider, sax., clrt, fit. (b. Chicago, March 14, 1945); Danny Seraphine, drm. (b. Chicago, Aug. 28, 1948). Bill Champlin, kybd., gtr., voc. (Chicago, 1953) joined in 1982.

A big-band rock group that initially featured compelling jazz-style improvisation, Chicago launched their career by issuing three double-record sets in two years, saturating the market and perhaps overextending the group’s creativity. Sustained by a series of hit singles (including the smash hits “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park,” and “Just You ‘n’ Me”) and best-selling albums through the mid-1970s, Chicago became perhaps the second most successful American rock band of all time, excelled by only the Beach Boys. Degenerating into purveyors of melodic but inconsequential ballads and pop songs, Chicago suffered a lapse of popularity following the departure of mentor-producer James William Guercio in 1977. Rebounding under producer-writer David Foster beginning in 1982, Chicago continued to score major pop and easy-listening hits through the 1980s despite the departure of lead vocalist Peter Cetera for a solo career in 1985.

Self-taught guitarist Terry Kath and saxophonist-clarinetist Walt Parazaider were members of Jimmy and the Gentleman in 1966. While studying classical clarinet at Chicago’s DePaul Univ., Parazaider met fellow music students James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, and Danny Seraphine. Parazaider, Kath, Pankow, and Seraphine subsequently decided to form their own band, the Missing Links, recruiting Loughnane and Robert Lamm. Lamm had moved to Chicago at the age of 15 and studied piano and composition at Roosevelt Univ. Renamed the Big Thing, the group began rehearsals in early 1967, making their concert debut in May. In August, Parazaider’s friend James William Guercio spotted the group playing the Midwest bar and club circuit. They added bassist-vocalist Peter Cetera at the end of 1967, as Guercio relocated to Los Angeles, where he produced the Buckinghams’ Portraits and Blood, Sweat and Tears 7 second album.

Moving to Los Angeles in 1968 at the behest of Guercio, who renamed the group Chicago Transit Authority, the band recorded their debut album at the beginning of 1969. It featured two long and exciting jams on Lamm’s “Beginnings” and Steve Winwood’s “I’m a Man” and yielded a minor hit with “Questions 67 and 68.” The album remained on the album charts for more than three years and eventually sold more than two million copies. Shortening their name to Chicago in July 1969, the group toured the U.S. during 1970, scoring smash hits with Pankow’s “Make Me Smile” and Lamm’s “25 or 6 to 4” from Chicago II and Lamm’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings” from their debut album. Chicago III included the hits “Free” and “Lowdown.”

Chicago continued to record successfully under manager-producer James William Guercio through 1977, moving toward mainstream pop as the decade progressed. Their stint as the first rock group to play at N.Y.‘s Carnegie Hall in April 1971 resulted in a live four-record set (their fourth multirecord set in a row). Chicago V yielded the smash hit “Saturday in the Park” and the major hit “Dialogue,” while Chicago VI featured two smash hits, Cetera and Pankow’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” and Pankow’s “Just You ‘n’ Me.” Touring the world in 1972, Chicago permanently added percussionist Laudir de Oliveira in 1974, when Lamm recorded the solo album Skinny Boy . The near-smash hits for Chicago continued with “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” Loughnane’s “Call on Me,” and Cetera’s “Wishing You Were Here” (a top easy-listening hit) from Chicago VII, and Lamm’s “Harry Truman” and Pankow’s “Old Days” from Chicago VIII . Touring with the Beach Boys in 1975, Chicago’s subsequent hits included the top pop and easy-listening hit “”If You Leave Me Now” and the smash pop hit “Baby, What a Big Surprise,” both written by Cetera.

Chicago’s career momentum stalled after James William Guercio ceased managing and producing the group in 1977. On Jan. 23, 1978, Terry Kath died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in Woodland Hills, Calif. Hot Streets, coproduced by Phil Ramone and recorded with guitarist Donnie Dacus, yielded two major hits with “Alive Again” and “No Tell Lover,” but the group would not score another major hit for more than three years. In 1995, virtually all Chicago albums originally released on Columbia were reissued on the group’s own Chicago label.

Chicago eventually began a remarkable comeback on Full Moon Records in 1982 under producer David Foster. Joined by singer-songwriter-keyboardist Bill Champlin, the long-time leader of northern Calif.‘s Sons of Champlin who had just released the solo album Runaway, Chicago scored a top pop and easy-listening hit with Cetera and Foster’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” Chicago 17 and 18 (the latter on Warner Bros. Records) each yielded four hits, most notably “Hard Habit to Break,” “You’re the Inspiration,” and “Will You Still Love Me?” Chicago 19, produced by Ron Nevison for Reprise Records, contained five hits, including the top pop and easy-listening hit “Look Away,” the smashes “I Don’t Wanna Live without Your Love” and “What Kind of Man Would I Be?,” and the near smash “You’re Not Alone.” However, Seraphine soon left the group and Chicago never achieved another major hit. In 1995, with Champlin, Parazaider, Lamm, Loughnane, and Pankow as mainstays, they recorded their versions of big- band standards on Night and Day for Giant Records.

Peter Cetera recorded a solo album for Full Moon Records in 1982 and left Chicago for a solo career in early 1985 following Chicago 17 . In 1986, Solitude/Solitaire yielded a top pop and easy-listening hits with “Glory of Love” (included in the movie Karate Kid Part II) and “The Next Time I Fall/ 7 recorded with Amy Grant. “One Good Woman” and “After All” (recorded with Cher) became top easy- listening and smash pop hits in 1988 and 1989, and “Restless Heart” was a top easy-listening and moderate pop hit in 1992. By the end of 1993, Cetera had switched to the Chicago-based independent label River North Records.

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