Chicago — was formed in 1967
Rock band Chicago is an epitome of originality that was formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois and became well known for being one of the first and foremost rock bands to make far-reaching use of horns in their music. Chicago had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The original group consisted of DePaul University music students who ventured into doing gigs at clubs, on and off campus. They added more members and went professional as a band called The Big Thing. The band had an exceptional line-up of talent that included saxophonist Walter Parazaider, trombonist James Pankow, and trumpet player Lee Loughnane along with other rock artists. The group moved to Los Angeles, California in 1968 and signed up with Columbia Records. They released their first record in early 1969 under a new name, Chicago Transit Authority, which was later changed to Chicago because of objections raised by the Chicago transit officials.
Chicago’s debut double album titled Chicago Transit Authority was a bold attempt that featured rock, pop and jazz instrumentals, extended jams featuring Latin percussion, and experimental, feedback-laden guitar distortion. The album also included a number of pop-rock numbers, which were eventually released as singles and became DJs’ favorite on FM radio. The big explosion came with the release of their second album, another double-LP set, which included several top-40 hits and proved to be a milestone for the group. The big three, Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera gave an astonishing proof of their talents.
This second album, unofficially titled Chicago II, was the group’s breakthrough album focused on 15-minute suite composed by classical music lover James Pankow called «Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon.» The album rewarded Chicago with two top ten hits, «Make Me Smile», and «Colour My World». Among the other tracks on the album, keyboard player Robert Lamm’s «25 or 6 to 4» and «It Better End Soon» were also big hits. «25 or 6 to 4» has eventually become the group’s trade mark and Chicago guitar riff in the song is considered to be a cut above the rest; only to be matched by the famous guitar riffs in «Satisfaction» by The Rolling Stones or «Day Tripper» by The Beatles.
This was the beginning of a new era in rock music with a seamless blend of jazz that no other band could rival. Chicago started a trend that was unique and the music lovers became die-hard fans of the group that went on to produce great albums one after the other; always titled with the band name and a Roman numeral. The inexhaustible ability of the group created yet another big hit «Saturday In the Park» in 1972 that features the depth of Chicago guitar music. The group continued on to produce great music consistently year after year and 1973’s Chicago VI once again topped the charts with hits like «Feelin’ Stronger Every Day» and «Just You and Me».
Chicago VII, the band’s double-album released in 1974 had another big hit «Wishing You Were Here» which was composed by Cetera and sung by lead guitarist Terry Kath. The group’s tenth album (Chicago X) in 1976 was another big feather in their cap, with Cetera’s slow ballad «If You Leave Me Now» went on to grab the top spot in the charts. The song captured the Grammy award for Best Rock Performance by a duo or group in 1977.
With many more albums and hits to their credit, Chicago lives on with the trend setting music and Chicago band tab will continue to inspire all new and upcoming rock bands.