Chicago still going strong at 55!
Updated: Jan 8
Chicago plays Luther Burbank Center to a packed house!
Originally called, Chicago Transit Authority, when this band was born in 1967, in, you guessed it, Chicago Illinois. Then in 1968 they dropped the 'Transit Authority' and kept it simple, calling the band Chicago. Their genre is rock n roll but this band had a twist....Horns! Most of the bands around then, consisted of guitar, bass, drums and vocals....but Chicago broke that mold with a horn section added to the normal four piece rock sound. If I had to describe this unique sound, for me, is a nice mix between Earth, Wind and Fire and Tower of Power with the core of the songs being more middle of the road rock n roll. But you can definilty hear pop, R & B, jazz and even classical mixed into the tunes. The original line up consisted of, Peter Cetera on bass, Terry Kath on guitar, Robert Lamm on keyboards, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, James Pankow on trombone, Walter Parazaider on woodwinds, and Danny Seraphine on drums. Cetera, Kath, and Lamm shared lead vocal duties. Laudir de Oliveira joined the band as a percussionist and second drummer in 1974. Kath who was a prominent member, died in 1978. The three remaining original members still in the band, are, on vocals and keys, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, and James Pankow on trombone. And oh my....what strong players they are! The ten piece band is so incredibly tight, its quite apparent at least three of them had been practicing for more than half a century! The 'newer' players in the band have been borrowed from other bands, like the second keyboard player, Loren Gold is from The Who. The Chicago of this century consists of two killer drummers/percissionists, Walfredo Reyes Jr and Raymond Yslas, guitarist, Tony Obrohta, Ray Herrmann on sax, Eric Baines on bass, Neil Donell vocals, alongside the three original members, Robert Lamm on keys and vocals, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, and James Pankow on the trombone.
To be honest, when I was hired to shoot the band at the LBC, I originally thought, I'd go in, and shoot the first three songs, and leave, as I imagined Chicago to be more in the 'yacht rock' category. I personally prefer my rock n roll to be a bit edgier. Then before the show,I was chatting to a friend, a drummer, and he suggested that I stay and see the show. As kids, we were big Earth Wind and Fire fans. I still thought that I wouldn't be staying. Until that night, after hearing the start of the show....WOW! I was very wrong about Chicago and am not afraid to admit it. They were fantastic! I'd see them again, in a heartbeat!
At the LBC I work closely with the sound guys...Usually with LBCs Steve, and the visiting bands' sound people. This night I was hanging with "Papa Tim" Chicagos' sound guy thats been with them for six years, and his CV was pretty impressive including working with Linda Ronstadt for many years whilst she was touring, amongst many other big names. And his expertise on the board was obvious, as the sound that night was phenomenal. They played for an hour then took a 25 minute break and then another hour long set to close the show. After the first set, I asked Tim about the lead singer who sounds exactly like Peter Cetera...he said they found this vocalist in Canada and he was hired due to his voice sounding so much like Cetaras', much like Journey and Yes choices for their new lead vocals.
Chicago is one of the most successful rock groups in all of U.S. history, and one of the world's best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 100 million records, with 23 gold, 18 platinum, and eight multi-platinum albums. They have won a total of 10 Grammys, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
All in all, I was so happy I stayed for the entire show. Because like I said, it was fantastic!
Here are some of my shots from the night: