My first day on The Rocker and I find out that this is Chicago's 54th anniversary as a band.

As I wrote in my little howdy-do, I'm a Chicago kid. Now, as any person my age will might say, The Beatles are either their favorite or just the greatest band ever, but right up there for this homeboy are these homeboys.

Chicago Performs On CBS' "The Early Show"
CHICAGO - JUNE 20: Rock band Chicago performs on CBS' "The Early Show" at Charter One Pavilion on June 20, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jerry T. Lai/Getty Images)

There's a great story on Chicago's website. Walt Parazaider was buds with then-musician and now actor Joe Mantegna. After a gig, Mantegna asks Parazaider, "what are you going to do next?" And Parazaider says "I'm gonna make a band that will be the Beatles, with horns.". Word has it, after Parazaider left, one of the guys in the room said "that guy is bleeping nuts.".

It's all right here:

"The group now known as Chicago began on February 15, 1967, at a meeting involving saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath, drummer Danny Seraphine, trombonist James Pankow, trumpet player Lee Loughnane, and keyboardist/singer Robert Lamm. Kath, Parazaider, and Seraphine had played together previously in two other groups—Jimmy Ford and the Executives, and the Missing Links. The group of six called themselves the Big Thing, and like most other groups playing in Chicago nightclubs, played Top 40 hits. Realizing the need for both a tenor to complement baritones Lamm and Kath, and a bass player because Lamm's use of organ bass pedals did not provide "adequate bass sound", local tenor and bassist Peter Cetera was invited to join the Big Thing in late 1967." - Wikipedia

The band got a recording contract a year later, changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority, (The actual CTA threatened to sue the band after the first album came out, thus it became, just Chicago.) and began opening for the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. That's where the famous Hendrix quote came from. "Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me." That guitar player was Terry Kath.

Need more proof of that?

(Chicago on MV via YouTube)

And when you're searching for something to stream or watch, this documentary put together by Terry Kath's daughter is a good watch.

(Terry Kath Spotlight via YouTube)

The band had a long string of massive hits.  For people of certain age, Colour My World was either a prom song, a wedding song, or for this geeky teenager, the first slow dance song with a girl. If You Leave Me Now was a number one hit for the band, as were Hard To Say I'm Sorry and Look Away from the band's second incarnation.

A testament to their talent and popularity was the ability to reinvent itself after Kath's death, and the 80's Chicago is not really like the 70's Chicago.

Certain band members came and went, and it wasn't always pleasant. Just a peek at that Chicago website will show you, how differently Peter Cetera is viewed than the other founding members; not even a whole paragraph.

I've seen them three or four times live, and always a great show. The show's at the old  Chicago Stadium, with the Beach Boys opening for them were rock concerts.  But seeing them in the 80's, there were teenage girls in the row in front of us, giggling and crying to the ballads, as if they were a teenybopper band.

So, here's to 54 years of incredible music. Thanks.

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And if you're going to raise a glass to a top ten band, then do it with a top ten beer.

Zymurgy's 2020 Top Ten Beers In The U.S....In Their Own Words.

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