Terry KathGuitar, vocals1967-1978
Peter CeteraVocals, bass1967-1984
Robert LammKeyboards, vocals
Walter ParazaiderHorns
Danny SeraphineDrums1967-1989
James PankowTrombone
Lee LoughnaneTrumpet
Laudir De OliveiraPercussion1974-1981
Donnie DacusGuitar1978-1980
Bill ChamplinKeyboards, vocals1981-2009
Jason SheffVocals, bass1984-2016
DeWayne BaileyGuitar1988-1995
Tris ImbodenDrums1989-
Keith HowlandGuitar1995-

Chicago Artistfacts

  • The group was originally called The Big Thing; they spent much of the Summer of Love (1967) playing cover songs in the upper Midwest, but started playing their own songs a year later after connecting with producer James Guercio, who became their manager. Since they were from the Chicago area, they changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which they later truncated to Chicago for the sake of simplicity, not because of any legal action.
  • Four of their original members - James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Lee Loughnane and Robert Lamm - have been with the band since their formation, each logging over 50 years with the group.
  • Early on, the band had a political bent, which is apparent on their 1971 4-record release Chicago At Carnegie Hall, where they make several references to the evils of the "military industrial complex," air pollution, and America's most famous crook, Richard Nixon.
  • Like The Band, they had three talented lead singers for much of their run: Robert Lamm, Terry Kath and Peter Cetera. This gave them a lot of options when it came to vocals. Later members Bill Champlin and Jason Scheff contributed vocals after they lost Kath and Cetera.
  • Like The Doors, they got a regular gig at the Los Angeles club Whisky a Go Go, where in 1968 they played on Sunday and Monday nights. This is where Jimi Hendrix found them; he brought them on tour as his opening act for some shows in 1969.
  • Despite their tremendous influence and success, they didn't get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until 2016. In a 2014 Songfacts interview with James Pankow, he said: "It doesn't really add up. And I think that I probably have to think twice or more before I said yes to an invitation to an institution that was off base to that large an extent. I have heard from inside sources that we are not well liked by people in that circle. For whatever reasons, we have no idea. Perhaps something occurred long ago that caused a breach in our relationship with Rolling Stone."
  • Their first release, Chicago Transit Authority, was a double album. It was ignored by AM radio (which played the hits) but beloved on FM, where many stations would play lesser-known album cuts, or even entire albums. Their AM breakthrough came with "Make Me Smile" from their second album.
  • Most of their albums are numbered with Roman numerals, Super Bowl style. However, their second album is simply titled Chicago, since their first was released when they were using the name Chicago Transit Authority. They skipped Chicago II and named their third album is Chicago III, their fourth Chicago IV, and so forth. They broke convention with their 1978 album, which followed Chicago XI but was named Hot Streets. They went back to the numbers for their next one, Chicago 13, but without the Roman numerals.
  • Soft rock impresario David Foster became their producer for their 1982 album Chicago 16, which contained the #1 balled "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." As Foster describes it, he and Peter Cetera became the "power couple" in the band, responsible for their more mellow sound with less participation from the horn section. This alienated the brass, but was wildly successful. Foster also produced their next two albums.
  • David Foster came to the group via Bill Champlin. Foster had produced Champlin's 1981 solo album Runaway; Champlin joined the group later that year and suggested Foster as a producer. Champlin didn't get any preferential treatment, as Foster focused on Cetera. "I wish I was singing more, but even then I understood what David and Peter were doing," Champlin told Songfacts.

Comments: 22

  • George from Vancouver, CanadaWhen I was younger, I heard them & thought their lyrics were stupid; I still do, but I can appreciate the simple instrumentation that make their music memorable. . .
  • Shandroise De Laeken from Davao City, PhilippinesIt surprises me that there are people who hate Peter Cetera's voice. I like it. Hard to Say I'm Sorry, You're the inspiration, If you leave me now, What kind of man would I be - they are played often in the radio until now. I also love Jason Scheff's voice. I really love their Will You Still Love Me. One of the greatest bands in the entirety of music industry. If other people considered their songs as schmaltzy or sappy, it's different with me. I love those songs.
    2015-06-28 (from 1993-born)
  • Howard from Levittown, PaChicago was hip for all of five minutes, in a matter of speaking. Like Blood, Sweat and Tears, they came at a time when rock radio was just getting off the ground. Because of that, they relied more on top 40 to get airplay, although they sound like they set out to be a progressive jazz-rock band. Top 40 exposure entailed recycling "Beginnings" and "Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?" from the "Transit Authority" LP. Some, if I read right, screamed "sellout." Rock radio has not played anything after their first two LPs since and that seems to be criteria for the Hall. Rather, if you look like a rock band, but go the wrong way, you're out. But if you're any other kind of pop success like Madonna or Donna Summer, you're in.
  • Randy from San Diego, CaChicago died when Terry Kath died. What a great band!!!!
  • Mike from Chicago, IlChristine from Chicago - Actually, The Mothers of Invention album, Freak Out, was the first double lp debut. It was released in June of 66, while CTA was released in April of 69.
  • Pat from Albuquerque, NmIn my opinion (from seeing them once in concert, and from other people that have seen them, like my wife a few years before we met), Chicago is one of those bands that sounds much better in the studio than they do live. The albums/CDs are great, but their concerts aren't all that great. BB King blew them away in the concert I attended, and Chicago got all upset (particularly Cetara) because BB got two standing ovations.
  • Tina from Norcross, GaThe lead singer on Saturday In the Park, IIRC, is Robert Lamm. Also, the chocolate bar cover was Chicago X. Chicago XI had the map of the city of Chicago on its cover.


    Thanks again
    Alisha from GA!
  • Randy from Colerain Twp., OhIf Terry Kath was waving a handgun around and he had shot himself in the head, that isn't 'accidental'- that's called 'negligence'... The same holds true if you have unprotected sex and you do knock up a chick, that is also called 'NEGLIGENCE'. Terry Kath may have been a skilled marksman- but anyone who knows about firearms can tell you, they aren't designed to shoot yourself- so if you do shoot yourself, that is due to pure negligence.
  • Cliff from Vancouver, WaChicago is one of those bands who is definitely known for their stylized logo, designed by John Berg and Nick Fasciano. Aside from the Chicago Transit Authority album and Chicago 21, the band's logo has been featured on every album in various styles, such as the Chocolate Bar on Chicago XI, or engraved in wood like on Chicago V.
  • Cliff from Vancouver, WaTerry Kath was cleaning an automatic pistol, but he was stoned. A friend told him to put the gun up, but he refused. He took the clip out and removed the bullets, but a there was still a bullet in the chamber. He then waved the pistol around saying it wasn't loaded, but the pressure from his finger made the gun go off on his head. He was dead instantly, and the cops ruled his demise as accidental.
  • Shawn from Athens, GaHow did Terry Kath die? Was he playing russian roulett, just playing with a clipless but bullet chambered gun or cleaning a loaded gun? Suppossedly a skilled marksman it doesn't seem like so much of an accident as a stupid mistake.
  • Brett from Bensalem, PaChicago has done everything a band can possibly do including remaining popular with almost 40 years under their belt. The critics have always disliked them for some reason and that is outrageously obvious since they are not in the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame. Chicago more than fits thier criteria to be enshrined where they belong. What is annoying is you got bands in the Hall that don't belong and they are still on the outside looking in....I just don't get it!
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI saw Chicago and earth wind and fire perform a few weeks ago in Charlotte NC, a few weeks ago on August 6, 2005. The show was incredible, and the best part was toe two bands performing together!!!!!!!!!!! It totally rocked!!!!!!
  • Don from Atlanta, GaChicago is one of the most important groups from the late 60's & early 70's era. And very underrated. What is it with Rolling Stone Magazine & whatever they had against Chicago? I've never understood that.

    Chicago 17's release, four videos in the VH1 Top 10 Countdown. On the verge of megastardom. Then Cetera leaves. One of the best rock voices ever, I think. Jason Scheff is great, his heart is with the group, but he's just not Cetera's equal, imho.

    They are still touring in 2005, I'm glad to see. I hope to make it to at least one last concert before they get too old to keep going. I got to meet James Pankow & Bill Champlin once, after a concert. Great guys to talk to, very intelligent. James Pankow is always so much fun to watch in concert, dancing with his trombone.

    Not nearly enough background information on Chicago out there that I've found, was great to find their website,

  • Scott from Marietta, GaIn my opinion, Chicago is an American treasure and America's greatest band.
  • Evan from Houses Of The Holyfirst rock band to have a lead brass section. Sadly not in the R&R hall of fame
  • Dave from Pomeroy, OhThe group didn't have a release a single LP until Chicago. The first three were double LP's and the fourth was a live four LP set recorded during a weeklong series of concerts recorded at Carnige Hall
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaClearly one of the best debut albums of all time. Check out the guitar playing of Terry Kath on "Chicago Transit Authority" In 1969, Hendrix caught the band in a club and told Terry Kath "you're a better guitar player than me." Awesome praise from one of the masters. Give this a listen. What do you got to lose?
  • Christine from Chicago, IlChicago was the first band to earn a platinum record album award for Columbia Records.
  • Christine from Chicago, IlAt the time, Chicago was the only band who's very first l.p. was a double l.p.
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcChicago fired their long-time manager James William Guercio after "Chicago XI". Phil Ramone produced the next album "Hot Streets". Sometime after that David Foster took the production reins.
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