Chicago was formed in 1967 and originally named Chicago Transit Authority. It's no surprise that the band's home city reflects their title. The band's name is explained in a song from their very first album: 'If you must call them something, speak of the city where all save one were born, where all of them were schooled and bred. Call them Chicago.'
The city of Chicago proved to be a great influence on the musicians that eventually formed the band of the same name. Its roots in jazz led the young musicians to their hit sound. The band of hippies with horns started on the road to fame with a jazz-rock sound and the backing of manager James William Guercio.
Terry Kath played lead guitar and was backed by keyboardist Robert Lamm (who also wrote lyrics), bassist Peter Cetera, and horn players Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walter Parazaider. Their first album became an immediate hit and began their tradition of naming their albums using Roman numerals instead of actual names.
The vocals of Kath and Cetera were accented by the powerful horn section, and Kath's jazz-rock guitar riffs were hard to beat. The songs were semi-political which appealed to the pop audience of the time, so it was no surprise when Chicago's records began climbing the charts and receiving heavy radio-play. The band released more albums, all sporting the Roman numeral titles, throughout the 70s and received praise from the masses and the media.
The accidental death of Terry Kath in 1978 changed the band's line-up but did not hinder their popularity. Cetera took on a greater vocal role and by the 1980s he was singing lead on all of Chicago's hits. In 1985 Cetera took leave from the band and began a solo career. He was replaced by bassist Jason Scheff and the band pushed on into the 90s, playing adult contemporary music that still managed to find its way to the top of the charts.
Their popularity and record sales in the 90s started to recede, but their stage presence grew and live shows became more popular than ever. Tickets to Chicago's shows were heavily advertised and sold out to venues across the country as the band toured. Over the years they produced 20 Top Ten singles, 12 Top Ten albums (five of which had made it to number one) and sold more than 120 million records worldwide. That kind of fame refuses to die. Their thirteen albums contained a jazz-rock, pop-oriented style that crossed generational boundaries as the decades passed.
Chicago paraded into the new millennium with the will to do some good in the world. Throughout the decades the band always jumped on opportunities to play benefit concerts like VH1's Save the Music Foundation. But as their touring career became the focus they decided to donate a portion of each ticket sold to the Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, a foundation seeking to cure Neimann-Pick Type C disease. The have appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to promote their music and their cause.
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