Finally watched documentary on band “Chicago” (“Chicago Transit Authority”), my all-time favorite American band. They outlasted “Blood, Sweat & Tears” by a long shot! (Yes, British band “Moody Blues” is up there as a Fav as well. A totally different sound and concept albums. MB’s founding member Ray Thomas died at 76 this month.)
Back to Chicago Transit Authority, what talented guys! Those horns, original songs and arrangements! Terry Kath’s guitar work rivalled Jimi Hendrix and he was the “voice” of CTA/Chicago in the early days. (CTA opened for Hendrix and Joplin) And yes, that iconic “Chicago” logo was inspired by the “Coke” design.
I attended a Chicago concert at the Arizona Coliseum in 1971. The concert was similar to the soon to be released Carnegie Hall album including new material from Chicago III. We stood most of the concert on the main floor. The sweet smell of weed permeated the venue. The Coliseum was packed. Terry Kath was amazing! What can I say. They ALL were as they performed extended concert versions of their songs.
Chicago was a band that did not constrain themselves to the 3 1/2 minute AM format limit. They found an audience on college campuses, endearing themselves to the mood of the country with the anti-war protest song “It Better End Soon”, and FM stations which would play the seven-part, 13-minute suite James Pankow-composed “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon”, which yielded Chicago two top ten hits: “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World”. The two tracks were extracted from “Ballet” for play on AM.
Of course, the documentary suffers the addled memories of time and a drug-infused past (theirs, not mine). There’s disagreement amongst the “players” on who did what to whom. But, it was a 50-year “marriage” of 6 college guys: Pankow, Parazaider, Kath, Seraphine, Loughnane, & Lamm. Bassist/singer Peter Cetera was soon added and a host of others along the way. And the Band had to morph musically several times with the death of Terry Kath, the breakup with manager James Guercio, and later departures of Cetara, and Seraphine.
Today, 36 albums and 50 years later, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow & Walt Parazaider continue to do what they have done best.