The Night Chicago Died

Album: Dynamite (1974)
Charted: 3 1
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  • Daddy was a cop on the east side of Chicago
    Back in the U.S.A. back in the bad old days

    In the heat of a summer night
    In the land of the dollar bill
    When the town of Chicago died
    And they talk about it still

    When a man named Al Capone
    Tried to make that town his own
    And he called his gang to war
    With the forces of the law

    I heard my mama cry
    I heard her pray the night Chicago died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

    I heard my mama cry
    I heard her pray the night Chicago died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes indeed!

    And the sound of the battle rang
    Through the streets of the old east side
    'Til the last of the hoodlum gang
    Had surrendered up or died

    There was shouting in the street
    And the sound of running feet
    And I asked someone who said
    "'Bout a hundred cops are dead!"

    I heard my mama cry
    I heard her pray the night Chicago died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

    I heard my mama cry
    I heard her pray the night Chicago died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes indeed!

    And there was no sound at all
    But the clock upon the wall
    Then the door burst open wide
    And my daddy stepped inside
    And he kissed my mama's face
    And he brushed her tears away

    The night Chicago died
    (Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na)
    The night Chicago died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes indeed!

    The night Chicago died
    (Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na)
    The night Chicago died
    Brother what a night it really was
    Brother what a fight it really was
    Glory be!

    The night Chicago died
    (Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na)
    The night Chicago died
    Brother what a night the people saw
    Brother what a fight the people saw
    Yes indeed! Writer/s: MITCH MURRAY, PETER CALLANDER
    Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 56

  • Smitty from EarthI hope no one who heard this song actually thought a battle like this took place during Capone's "reign."
  • Benjamin from NotmyrealnameHeard this song in Spanish growing up but this version is my favorite for sure. Billy don't be a hero is another great song as well.
  • Mario from Ogden, UtahSue - Hamilton, On

    Thank you for your kind comments.
  • Mario from Ogden, UtahThe mayor of Chicago escorted Paper Lace out of Chicago because of the lyrics. Paper Lace was forced to change up the lyrics a bit. They were later welcomed back to Chicago to perform.

    Paper Lace was the second music group in the history of the Palladium (in England) to perform there, the first was of course The Beetles. The Mother Queen (Queen Elizabeth) requested for them to play at the Palladium and to play "Billy Don't Be A Hero", which was a her favorite song at that time. I'm still finding out more history of Paper Lace for family reasons!

    Carlo Santana (my cousin)!!!!!
    You made our family proud with the impact that you contributed to the 70's music.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenWhen this song was current, I was at a roller skating rink with a group from my elementary school and the DJ put it on and "dedicated" it to my group. It played and my first thought was "Why would anyone dedicate a song like THAT to anyone?" My teacher didn't appreciate it, either.
  • Jennifer from IndianaSemantics, semantics... From the time I was 10 years old, when this song came out, I gathered that it was fictional because of the line " 'bout a hundred cops were dead". No such massacre. What bothered me were critical reviews saying "there is no east side of Chicago". Remember, these are the musings of a pre-teen with an already-large collection of 45s. So much music, so many stories! Every city, town, burg, and village has four sides - north , south, east, west. OK, so there may not be a designated east side as a specific neighborhood. There *is*, for example, East Chicago, Indiana. Down here in Bloomington, musicians from Chicago and surrounding towns call that IllinoisIndiana border area The Region. Bloomington is home to Indiana University. IU is sucking the lifeblood out of Bloomington. Go watch "Breaking Away". Or try to find "I'm Coming Home" by Jim Kirk. But I digress.
    In the literal sense, I state redundantly, every town has four sides. Neighborhoods and regions have nicknames or reputations. Here, the northnorthwest side is sedate, old, drug dens next to luxury student condos. Downtown is in the centre. East side is monied. Great wealth, isolation, close to the sprawling campus, and the gateway to Lake Monroe. West side is commercial, strip malls, pushing the city limits. South side is "improving" as the church and family homes are no longer the norm, demolished to make way for student luxury condos and new Greek housing. Then there's The Hill, the area that prompted former VP Spiro Agnew to comment from a helicopter, "You've seen one slum, you've seen 'em all".
    There is certainly an east side of Chicago. Purists proud of The City of Big Shoulders have their colloquialisms for parts of town. It's all in the semantics.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 9th 1974, "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #98; nine weeks later on August 11th, 1974 it would peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 17 weeks...
    The British quintet had two other Top 100 records; "Billy - Don't Be a Hero" {#96 in 1974} and "The Black-Eyed Boys" {#41 in 1974}...
    Their original version of "Billy - Don't Be A Hero" peaked at #1 {for 3 weeks} on March 16th, 1974 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    And the same week that "The Night Chicago Died" entered the Top 100 at #98; Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods' covered version of "Billy - Don't Be A Hero" was peaking at #1 on the Top 100 chart.
  • Jim from Enid, OkI always thought it was bubblegum music and written to make money. Al Capone and his eight brothers and sisters grew up in NYC and Al was sent to a private catholic school but was expelled after punching a female teacher in the face. He was recruited by a notorious gangster and moved to Chicago. Capone was thought to have orchestrated the reprisal assassinations of rival gangster George "Bugs" Moran's seven gang members in the notorious "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre". Syphilis, stroke, pneumonia and heart disease eventually killed Capone.
  • Stan from Saint Petersburg , FlDoes anyone know of a cowriter or collaborator on this song named Jerry Albritton. This guy lives in Florida and claims he wrote the song. He's owns the name to a band/vocal group called "The Shadows" and has publicly claimed he wrote the song. I would like to know the truth. Does Mr. Callendar or Mr. Murray know him or have they ever heard of a Jerry Albritton. He also claims to have written several other songs for some major 70's groups. I want to know if he's for real or is he full of it. Someone let me know.
  • Thyrocyte from Bangkok, ThailandI have heard this song since I was a teenager. I don't know whether there is really an East side of Chicago or not. Also, I don't know whether Al Capone did have a fierce fighting with the forces of the law in Chicago or not. Anyway, the song tells us not only about the fight between the outlaws and the cops, but also the concern of a boy and his mother to a man who was a boy's father and had to fight with these gangsters.

    Finally and happily, the song tells us that the father could make it back home alive and this seems to be a happy ending for the song. I do like the end of the song although many people may regard this type of ending as a cliché.
  • Bonnie from Santa Rosa, CaThere is infact an "east side of chicago" I was born and raised there, graduated high school. It boarders both of the 95th street bridge, the river to the west, Indiana state line to the east and wolf lake on the south. I have many fond memories from that neighborhoos back in the 70"s. I understand much has changed.
  • Frank from New York City, NyWith the song Billy Don't be a Hero. The way the story of this song went. Billy should have been a sandwich instead. A very sad ending
  • Frank from New York City, NyI had liked this a lot when it was first released, even bought the 45rpm record. It only took months and I got sick of this song. It is like mold. Moldy bread, stale, when getting up in the morning. So like moldy bread. I broke this 45rpm. Paper Lace was the type of group that all their song was easy to get sick of quick anyhow
  • Sue from Hamilton, OnFound it, Carlo Paul Santanna is the one with the beautiful voice, :-)
  • Sue from Hamilton, OnI'd like to know who the 5 members of the original group were. The singer with the Guitar has an amazing voice and I'd like to know who he is. When Phillip Wright joined the band was called Music Box, they change it to Paper Lace.
  • Sue from Hamilton, OnCapone was convicted of Tax Evasion, got 11 yrs. Here in Hamilton we have the East End, where our Steel Mill was, not the greatest place to live. Our North End is Hamilton Bay.
  • Sue from Hamilton, OnCapone also owned a house in Hamilton, ON. Canada
  • Sue from Hamilton, OnPaper Lace sang, The Night Chicago Died, Billy Don't Be A Hero(it went to No.1 in England before Bo Donaldson covered it,)Bye Bye Blue.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThere was indeed an East Side, but there was no fight where "a hundred cops" died.

    Fabricated/altered history -- the sort Hollywood enjoys spewing.
  • Rap Porter from Chicago, IlApologies for my "one-hit wonder" remark. That was rather U.S.-centric of me. Considering their slightly greater success in the U.K., I should have said "two-and-a-half-hit wonder" according to Wikipedia.
  • Rap Porter from Chicago, IlLovely to see all these Chi-town old timers defending a silly song by a one-hit wonder (Quick! Name three songs by Paper Lace), but the fact is, the lyric is wrong. "On the East Side" can't refer to a neighborhood. Nobody in Chicago says "ON Hyde Park" (my 'hood) or "ON Andersonville" or "ON Englewood"; neighborhoods are always referenced with "in." "On the South Side" (or North, or West, but NOT East) refers to a large geographic division of the city. Referring to the neighborhood, you'd say "IN East Side," or maybe "IN the East Side."
  • James Kussy from Granite Falls, WaThere was and is an East Side neighborhood in Chicago. Most Chicagoans don't realize it. It is where the Indiana/Illinois state line meets the Lake. I was born there in 1930 and lived there until 1942. It WAS a wonderful place in those days. You could now say the wonderful place is "gone with the wind." Jim,Granite Falls, Washington
  • Mike from Matawan, NjWorst. Song.

  • Karen from Silver Spring, MdI remember this song, though at the time it was released, I sang the lyrics without really knowing what they meant. Now I can see the campiness but it's still a cool song.
  • Jessie Steele from Bartlett, Tnthis is such a greatsong
  • Rauliy from Lomg Island, NyI had the 8 track of this LP when it came out it was called The Black Eyed Boys --It had both The Night Chicago Died and Billy Don't Be A Hero on it. It also had covers like Sealed With A Kiss, Cheek To Cheek. It was a great L.P.
  • Linda from Chicago, IlStormy in Kokomo, you sound like an old Roseland girl. Yes Richard J. Daley hated this song, but I think when CSNY wrote the song "Chicago" about the "68" Convention, this song took a back seat to his list of hated things. I was West Pullman myself by address, but would only admit to Roseland as my neighborhood. 111th Michigan Ave. Chicken Unlimited ring a bell, Shrimp House maybe?
  • Linda from Chicago, IlA little poetic licence was used in this song. It is not known if Big Al was involved in the Little Steel Strike in May of 37, and technically the strike happened in South Chicago. You can also reference Memorial Day Massacre. I'm sure Big Al was mentioned because this was a Union organizing thing. Also Ohio had the same problems, and strikes at the same time. Yes there was and is an East Side of Chicago neighborhood. 101st north to 95th, Torrence to the lake. East Side was a neighborhood reference, just like Roseland, Pullman, West Pullman, South Chicago etc.
  • Stormy from Kokomo, InLet's finally clear the air. In the 1920s, Al Capone ruled the SOUTH side of Chicago and was a HUGE White Sox fan and a guy by the name of "Buggs" Moran ruled the North side of Chicago. Of course there is a North, South, East and West side of Chicago as there is in ANY city! Haven't any of you heard of the term "poetic license"? I also remember that the mayor of Chicago at that time was Richard Daley and he HATED this song and tried to get it off of the radio station WLS which all of us kids listened to in the 60s and 70s. Remember DJs Dick Biondi and Larry Lujack? It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the 1968 Democratic convention held in Chicago!
  • Jake from Leicester, MaALL You people are looking too deeply at what the song is about.
    it's obvious that its about 1929 chicago.
  • Pmcountry from Small Town, PaI always assumed this was loosely based on the Saint Valentines Day Massacre in 1929. My only problem with that theory is that no or very few cops were killed.
  • AnonymousOk I am doing a school project on this song and all of you need to get your facts straight! Yes, it is about Al Capone and the story is perfectly true. Yes, there is an East Side. And yes Al Capone was a ganster that actually existed. It was not Carlos Santana. His father probably wasn't actually a cop on the East Side but it doesn't mean that the story is not true! It is perfectly true so look up the facts and everything because you all have scattered facts that for the most part make no sense!!!! OKay?
  • Natasha from Oklahoma City, Okwhoever said this song wasn't about gangsters of Al Capone hasn't listened to the song very closely "When a man named Al Capone
    Tried to make that town his own
    And he called his gang to war
    Against the forces of the law"
  • B from San Jose, CaThe song has nothing to do with gangsters and AL Capone. Its about the 1968 riots that accompanied the Democratic convention.
  • Cathie from Chicago, IlThere is an East Side. I was born there and lived there for 50 years.. So yes.. it is there
  • Simon from Manchester, EnglandTrue, his father probably was not a cop on the east side, but the war of Al Capone was absoulutely true and I have the newspaper to prove it, although I wasn't born there I do vacation basically everywhere, Al Capone was a nutorious and horrible gangster that was never given the title 'gangster', he was only convicted of tax evasion. This story is completely true, many cops died that night.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyWhat was it about 1974 that engendered so many depressingly bad songs from performers who knew nothing about the ostensible subjects of their songs? I'm referring to this song, "Seasons In The Sun," "Beach Baby" (No one has ever gone from LA to San Jose to surf!)and a host of others. Well, at least 1975 had some good music, disco notwithstanding.
  • Darrell from EugeneI was once told that this song was loosely based on the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, the anniversary of which is on my girlfriend's birthday. Did I mention that my girlfriend told me this? I don't think so.
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzOne of my all time favorite songs growing up in the 70's. My sister and I had a little "Dance Routine" to this. Ahhh...the good ol' days!
  • Chris from Chicago, IlThere is an east side.Hegewisch area,Avenues L and O, 95th street beach.Technically east of state street is East side
  • Andy from Chicago, IlIm from chicago and there is no east side the east side is a big freakin lake.
  • Graham from Surrey, CanadaI quess you could say its true, polece versus gangsters.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnAllan from Canada: By that definition, the "east side" of Chicago would be downtown along the lakefront. It's very strange to refer to a major city's downtown area as anything other than, well, downtown. In other words, the lyric should have been "Daddy was a cop in downtown Chicago", if that's the part of town the song's writer actually had in mind. (It's pretty safe to assume he didn't mean Lake Michigan.)
  • Allan from Vanderhoof, CanadaEvery city has an east side. Not every city has an East Side. "Daddy was a cop, on the east side of Chicago." They're not saying he worked in a place called East Side, they're simply saying his beat was in the eastern part of the city. Seems pretty simple to me, but hey, I'm a Canadian. If it ain't simple, I have problems.
  • Tina from Dallas, TxHow ironic -
    This is made up, yet in 1871 there was a great fire in Chicage, which put businesses at a stand-still. Wonder how it started - - - hmmmmmmm.
  • Jorge from Mexicali, MexicoI always wondered if it was true or not, specially since I knew Capone was not convicted for any gang-related activities or anything, but strangely enough I never dug into it. The song is great regardless, though.
  • Ted from Calumet City (orig), IlI am from Calumet city Ill which is south sub of chicago. East Side is there. We used to hang out at 99th street beach back in 60s-70s. Mostly Italians then. Best softball team in Ill in 70s,The Eastsiders
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI always enjoyed this song. I grew up going to Chicago quite a bit since I lived in Northern Indiana.
  • Scott from Chicago, Ilthere is an east side of chicago....a neighborhood that is actually registered as the
    "east side" is any chicago neighborhood map you
    look at is located on the southeast corner of chicago, right on the border of is
    and always was a steel mill area, heavily polluted and very was historically eastern european ethnic(serbs, croations, and poles), but now is heavily hispanic and rundown.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiait was actually Carlo Santana, Close but no cigar... he was born in Italy.
  • Ramon Escobar from Los Angeles, CaI heard,Carlos Santana was the founder of the band or something like that.
  • Chris from Highland, Inthere is an east side..i grew up there.
  • Rob from Hutchinson, KsAs a former disc jockey, I can tell you this was considered "bubble gum music". Little kids requested this song incessantly, driving many D.J.s crazy. However, the pulsing intro with the clever siren effect and the catchy lyrics created something we're still talking about 30 years later.
  • Si from London, EnglandPaper Lace didn't know that there wasn't an East Side of Chicago, they just used that because it "sounded American". At the time their horizons didn't extend far beyond Nottingham, and probably still don't........
  • Lauren from Maryville, MoHowever, Chicagoans puzzle about what was meant by the "East Side". There's no place in Chicago referred to as the East Side, really. There's Downtown, and then East of that there's Lake Michigan.
  • Anonymousthe story is not false, it is completly true. Maby the parthaboyt his "father" could be fictional, but the attempt by al capone's gang to take over chichago was not. Capone was not found guilty for this, or even for being a ganster, but was finally convicted of tax evasion.
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