Chicago is one of my favorite soft rock groups, but they are one of two groups along with Bad Company from the 1970s that has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame but I think deserves to get in.
Chicago had the second highest number of successful singles and albums behind the Beach Boys for an American band. They were the highest selling American band for releasing singles in the 1970s. They have many different instruments and vocals in the group. Their original line up had a saxophonist, Walter Parazaider, guitarist, Terry Kath, drummer, Danny Seraphine, trombonist, James Pankow, trumpet player, Lee Lougnane, and keyboardist, Robert Lamm. They got Peter Cetera for a tenor to complement baritones, Lamm and Kath.
Their first release was a double album, which is rare for a music group, and it gained platinum status. They released a second album that was also a double album and had many ambitious songs such as a seven part, thirteen minute suite called Ballet For a Girl In Buchanon. It had two top ten hits with Make Me Smile and Colour My World. It had Chicago’s first top five hit and one of my favorite Chicago songs, 25 or 6 to 4, about a band trying to make music at twenty five or twenty six minutes to four in the morning. It had the war protest song It Had Better End Soon and a song inspired by the moon landing in 1969, Where Do We Go From Here?
The notes inside of the liner jacket say two declarations, “This album should be experienced sequentially.” and “With this album we dedicate ourselves, our futures, and our energies to the people of the revolution and the revolution in all of its forms.” Chicago was clearly influenced by the events at the current time and their music was a good representation of what was occurring at that time.
After their first two albums, Chicago made at least one album every year through out the 1970s. They made some live albums called Chicago At Carnegie Hall and the packaging contained the message, “We (youth) can change the system.” Rock and Roll loves a music group that pushes boundaries for reform or rebellion. The live albums were the best selling box set by a rock artist for fifteen years.
Each album except for a couple of exceptions by Chicago had the title of their band name with a Roman numeral. Chicago V reached number one on the billboard pop and jazz album charts. Saturday In the Park from the album reached number three on the billboard charts. The song, If you Leave Me Now, in 1976 won Chicago their only grammy award.
Terry Kath, the lead guitarist for Chicago, accidentally shot and killed himself and Chicago replaced him with Donnie Dacus. Chicago moved away from the jazz rock sound that was favored by Terry Kath, and they were dropped by Columbia records in 1981.
Chicago rallied together in 1984 to make Chicago 17, which was their highest selling album ever. Despite having difficulty for several years, they were able to make a good transition into 1980s music and music videos on MTV. Chicago finished up the 1980s with a four album hit making high.
Due to Chicago’s prolificness with making a couple dozen albums, most of which were popular with consumers and well received by critics, I think Chicago should get into the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame. Chicago had many different instruments and sounds. According to music legend, Chicago’s guitarist, Terry Kath, was the one guitarist named by Jimi Hendrix as being better than him. They were able to make a good transition from the 1970s to the 1980s and had a large influence on society with their politically charged songs and an influence on other music groups with their pioneering into unique territories.