Two For Tuesday: Chicago (High School Days)

Today’s walk through the music of my high school years should have been about the Jackson 5, but I see I’ve already done them. So instead, I’m going to profile the band that came in sixth.

If you’ve hung around here long enough, you know Chicago was my favorite band when I was in high school, and that Terry Kath, the band’s guitarist, was my “guitar hero,” as it were. I’ve talked about them a number of times, including here, here, and here, and I’ve included their music in a number of other posts. I’ll try not to choose songs that I’ve already done, although that might not be easy…

Chicago had 9 songs in the Top Ten during the early Seventies, but none of them reached #1. The last two of those songs were from their 1974 album Chicago VII, which might have been my favorite, mostly because they had gotten back to their more jazz roots. The first of them was “I’ve Been Searching So Long,” which entered the Top Ten in May and spent three weeks there, peaking at #9.

The second was “Call On Me,” the first song for the band written by trumpet player Lee Loughnane. It entered the Top Ten in July and spent four weeks there, peaking at #6.

Chicago went on to greater success in the late Seventies, including their first #1 hit with “If You Leave Me Now,” which also earned the band its first two Grammys (Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocal and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus) in 1977. Terry Kath accidentally shot and killed himself in January 1978, bassist and lead vocalist Peter Cetera left in 1985, and drummer Danny Seraphine left (officially, he was fired) in 1990.

Chicago, your Two for Tuesday, August 8, 2017.

18 thoughts on “Two For Tuesday: Chicago (High School Days)

  1. I always like Chicago because they were truly a band because it included horns! Thankfully this is not just synthesized which so much music today is only that. Great to listen to for a Tuesday morning. Why did the drummer get fired?


    1. I saw an episode of “VH1 Behind The Music,” and one of the members (James Pankow or Robert Lamm) said he was focused on too many things outside the band and not on being Chicago’s drummer. I Googled “Dan Seraphine fired” and found an interview with him where he said the band was moving to a more synthesized sound and were going to replace his live drumming with a drum machine. In other words, there are a few different versions of the story….


  2. I always enjoyed listening to Chicago. They played at PNC Park this past weekend. We had tickets to the next day’s game. I don’t know if the concert went on, there was a 2-hour rain delay at the start of the game they were playing after.


  3. John,

    How tragic about Terry Kath! Chicago was so awesome! I was introduced to the band by DH (the late 70s) and I remembered that they once were billed as Chicago Transatlantic. DH is a self-taught drummer (he liked Danny Seraphine) and played to a lot of their mewsic while we were dating. The group soon became one of my favorites. “If You Leave Me Now” always made me sad to hear because like anyone who’s dating you just doesn’t want to have to go through a breakup. Unfortunately, we did break up a couple of times but God wanted us together and we always found our way back to one another. I couldn’t….nor do I wanna imagine life ever without my best friend and love of my life! Thanks for sharing and refreshing some long ago memories. Have a good day!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, they were The Chicago Transit Authority first, and the CTA (the people who run the buses and trains in Chicago) took exception to them using the name and threatened to sue, so they shortened it to Chicago, figuring the city wouldn’t sue.

      Officially, Terry Kath shot himself in the head when he was playing with his pistol at a party. Someone asked him to stop, and he said, “don’t worry, it’s not loaded,” took the clip out, pointed it at his head, and pulled the trigger. He forgot about the one in the chamber. However, the band talked about it on an episode of “VH1 Behind the Music,” and they think it was suicide.

      After 40 years, I can hardly imagine life without Mary. In my current condition, I’d probably end up in assisted living…


  4. We were disappointed when we saw Chicago many years ago. They just didn’t sound the same to us and we actually left early, one of only a couple of times we’ve done that. Huey Lewis was the opening act for them and he came out and sang a few songs with them. That was when they were the best! I do love the two songs you picked for today.


  5. I played and sang Wishing You Were Here onstage more times than I can remember. Saw Chicago play it on tour with The Beach Boys with high school sweetheart Holly Peterson at Chicago Stadium. We were far enough back that the musicians looked like little dots onstage.

    It became a much more innocent time after Vietnam and Nixon ended.


  6. When I wanted to confound the DJ at a Champaign IL dance club, I’d request Mongonucleosis, a great instrumental off Chicago VII. it’s also one of my favorites from its jazz content.


    1. I have their first eleven albums (except the live one and the Greatest Hits compilation), the ones where Terry Kath was on guitar. I think Chicago is lost without him, Pete Cetera, and Danny Seraphine.

      Liked by 1 person

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