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It may be hard to say “I’m sorry,” but having experienced such enduring success over four decades; American rock jazz fusion band Chicago has nothing to feel sorry for.
In today’s age of fast-changing fads, instant fame, and copycat musical styles, it is nearly unthinkable that a band could stay together for a few years, let alone decades, with a steady stream of albums and without having an extended hiatus.
You can’t help but feel a little impressed, then, when you learn that Chicago has been rocking the world for 45 years.
What’s more is that, over the decades, the band has given the world such unforgettable hit ballads as “If You Leave Me Now”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “You’re the Inspiration”, and many others.
Having sold over 38 million albums in the United States alone, with 22 titles going gold, 18 going platinum, and eight multi-platinum, it is no wonder at all that Chicago is often cited among the most successful American rock bands of all time, in terms of both albums and singles.
Even after having experienced such enduring success, when talking about the future, the band members say that they see no end in sight for Chicago.
“As long as we enjoy what we’re doing, there is no reason for us to stop playing or recording,” the band’s current front man Robert Lamm told The Jakarta Post by email recently.
Formed in the eponymous “windy city” in the state of Illinois in 1967, Chicago has been through a long journey through the music industry; a journey which has earned the band recognition as one of the 13 best musical groups of all time by Billboard Magazine.
Before taking the name Chicago, the band called itself “The Big Thing” and played cover versions of Top-40 songs. In 1968, the group changed its name to the Chicago Transit Authority, which was eventually shortened to Chicago when the actual Chicago Transit Authority filed complaints.
The band also won a Grammy Award for the Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group in 1976 for the immensely popular hit ballad “If You Leave Me Now” featured on its Chicago X album.
According to Lamm, the love he and his band mates have for what they do best and great materials for songs are two secrets to why the band has managed to stay around for so long.
“As far as the secret to our longevity, we have always loved playing music for people and wherever we’ve gone there have been receptive audiences that have continuously wanted us to come back and play for them again and again,” Lamm said.
“The thing is that people still enjoy listening to a great melody and a great lyric. Today as in the past, the most important thing in any artist’s career is the material. Without a great song, we have nothing,” he added.
Over the decades, Chicago has seen many changes in its line-up; 10 singers and musicians have left the band and been replaced by new members.
One of its former members was the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Peter Cetera, who had fronted Chicago from 1967 until he chose to leave the band to pursue a solo career in 1985. Another past member was original guitarist Terry Kath, who died in early 1978 as a result of an unintentional self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Lamm said that Kath’s dead was the only time in the band’s history that its members ever considered calling it quits.
“The only time we have ever considered calling it quits was when our original guitar player Terry Kath passed away. However, it didn’t take us long to realize that Terry would have wanted us to go on,” he reminisced.
Having changed members several times, Chicago is now fronted by Robert Lamm and Lou Pardini on keyboards and vocals, with Lee Loughnane (trumpet, guitar, percussion), James Pankow (trombone, percussion), Walt Parazaider (woodwinds, backing vocals), Jason Scheff (bass, keyboards, vocals), Tris Imboden (drums, percussion, harmonica), Keith Howland (guitar, vocals), and Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (percussion).
Chicago is currently hitting the road in a world tour across numerous cities in many countries and Jakarta is planned to be one of the tour stops.
“We’ll be performing a cross-section of our entire career from the first album to present day. You’ll be hearing a lot of our hits and we’ll also have a few surprises for our Indonesian fans,” said Lamm.
The concert in Jakarta will be held at the Jakarta Convention Center’s Plenary Hall on Oct. 27, and is promoted by Enesha Entertainment and Sound Rhythm. Showtime will start at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from Rp 350,000 (US$36) to Rp 6 million. For ticketing information, contact the hotline number at (021) 70313140.