By: Cindy Annis – April, 2016
The next artist in the groove comes from Chicago, Illinois. In 1967, students of DePaul University, Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, James Pankow, and Lee Longnane got together to start a group with Robert Lamm from Roosevelt University called The Big Thing. The famous Peter Cetera joined the group soon after.
The Big Thing got their start singing covers of songs. James William Guercio, their producer, encouraged the band to move to Los Angeles. There, they got a recording contract with Columbia records. In 1968, they released their first album of original songs under the name Chicago Transit Authority. When the train and bus station that was also called Chicago Transit Authority found out about the band, they took legal action. The group shortened its name to Chicago.
Chicago was a successful group. The mixture of rock n’ roll and jazz gave them 49 top 40 records. Later in their career, they recorded some amazing soft rock songs.
The logo for most of the groups’ albums was inspired by the Coca-Cola Company. The fancy cursive logo was designed by John Berg. He was the art director for the Columbia and CBS record company. Nick Fasciano took the sketch that John made, and created the memorable logo.
In 1970, Chicago came out with an album called “Chicago II”. Like most of their albums, Chicago II was released as a double LP. Three great songs came out of the album. They are “Colour My World”, “Make Me Smile”, and “25 or 6 to 4”. Most of their albums were Chicago with a roman numeral. There are a few exceptions such as Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall and Chicago 13. In 1977, their last top 10 song sung by Peter Cetera called “Baby What a Big Surprise” came out of Chicago XI. Tragically, on January 23, 1978 guitarist Terry Kath died from an accidental gunshot wound.
When the 1980s came, so did many changes. Columbia records dropped Chicago in 1980. In 1981, Warner Brother’s records picked up Chicago. David Foster became their new producer. The sound of Chicago as fans knew it was forever changed. Foster, would move the brass section to the back and the vocals to the front. In Chicago 16, members of the group Toto were brought into the studio to record with Chicago. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” used a synthesizer and no brass instruments.
Chicago is still recording music today. Some of the band members have been changed. With the changing of group members, the sound of Chicago has also changed a little. Chicago can be found on record labels such as Columbia, Warner Brothers, Full Moon, Rhino, Reprise, Balkanton, and Melodiya.
Like most music groups and solo artists, Chicago did receive some awards. In 1977 as well as 1986, they won the American Music Award for best pop group. In 1976, Chicago won a Grammy award for best vocal performance on their #1 song “If You Leave Me Now”. It took until 2016 for Chicago to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Tune into Cindy’s Vinyl Vault all this month for our featured Artist of the Month. We go live Sunday night at 10pm until midnight, Monday night 11pm until midnight, and Wednesday night 9pm until 12pm on AM 980 WCAP. During every show, you are invited to call in a request or dedication at 978-454-4980. Join our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cindysvinylvault. There, you’ll be able to listen to past shows. If you would like to send us an email our address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So until next month, remember it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds.