Chicago - The "Beatles of America" - 5CD Box Set albums just £13.99
They have a totally different journey to other bands
They have sold over 38 million units in the US, with 22 gold, 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum albums. Globally they reached 100 million in sales. 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive number one albumes. They are second only to the Beach Boys in terms of US album sales. Yet many of us wouldn't guess that. And yet, when we listen to their music, we know nearly all of it.
Their sound was classical, jazz, blues, integrated. Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane came together to create a new sound a "rock 'n roll bands with horns." No, they weren't being macho about bulls, they meant horns, trumpets and other stuff.
Their story is original. Parazaider wasn't an unemployed guy who picked up a guitar, he was training in the clarinet at Chicago's de Paul University. And this is their story.
The story of Chicago - a truly different rock 'n roll band
If you were a kid in the 1970s, somebody in your family, at some point, owned a Chicago record. Maybe it was your older brother, maybe even your parents. You saw that familiar logo, like a tricked out version of the Coca-Cola emblem, and put the needle to the groove, before being shocked by the stab of horns. Then came the rush of recognition, song after song you’d heard before on the AM radio in your family station wagon. To this day, I still can’t hear “Saturday in the Park” without seeing myself as a boy, stuck in traffic on the LIE while my Mom chain-smokes Kent III 100s.
Initially known as Chicago Transit Authority, they signed with Clive Davis at Columbia Records and released their debut, a double album containing the hit singles “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings.” They shortened their name to simply Chicago for their second album, also a double, which debuted their ubiquitous logo, and included the top 10 hits “25 or 6 to 4” and “Make Me Smile.” They wouldn’t release a single that didn’t make the Billboard Top 100 singles chart for another 10 years.
Travelling by charter jet, the band was on an endless cycle of touring, recording, drinking, and drugging and things naturally began to go off the rails. Their manager and producer, Jimmy Guercio, built a recording studio outside Denver with profits from the band, who didn’t realize things were amiss until it was too late. When they finally wised up, they found out Guercio had been pocketing 100% of their publishing royalties for nearly 10 years, which, given the band’s success, was literally millions of dollars.
Chicago partied as hard as any band you can think of, with a particular fondness for cocaine. For one tour they included a mock phone booth in their stage set, which the band dubbed “The Snortitorium,” where they could hoover lines mid-performance without leaving the stage. Kath was almost certainly under the influence when he accidentally killed himself, cleaning a handgun in 1978. 40 years later, the members of Chicago still can’t talk about the incident without choking up. Of their first album without him, drummer Seraphine says, “We spent more money on blow and mansions on the Hot Streets album than we did on the recording.” It was their first album not to reach the top 10.
The loss of Terry Kath forever changed the dynamics of Chicago. Peter Cetera began to take center stage as their frontman, a move encouraged by soft rock super producer David Foster, who brought the band many ’80s hits but admits, “I softened their sound past the point of where I should have.” The members of their once vaunted horn section now had to pick up guitars and keyboards in order to stay relevant. Little love seems to have been lost when Cetera finally quit the band for a solo career in 1986, and the bad blood is such that he was not involved in the documentary.
Now More Than Ever: The History Of Chicago ends with the band’s 2016 induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the band members ruminating on where they go from here.