The concert of American band Chicago on Jan. 20 at Smart Araneta Coliseum will serve as a prelude to its formal induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York in April.
Chicago will perform in Manila with eight members, four of whom are part of the original group: Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals), Lee Loughnane (trumpet), James Pankow (trombone) and Walter Parazaider (woodwinds).
The group, which first called itself The Big Thing, was formed in 1967 when the founding members, all Chicago natives, were still college students. Parazaider, Pankow, Loughnane, Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) and Danny Seraphine (drums) were all from DePaul University, and Lamm from Roosevelt University.
In the same year, another Chicago-born musician, Peter Cetera (bass, vocals) was recruited to complete the lineup of a rock ‘n’ roll band with horns and a trio of vocalists.
In 1968, the band signed with Columbia Records and changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), adopted from the city’s mass transport system.
Its self-titled debut release in 1969, a double album, was an impressive melange of jazz, rock, soul and classical, with four of 12 tracks—“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings,” “Questions 67 and 68,” and “I’m a Man” sounding good enough to be later issued as singles.
From the same album, two tracks— “Prologue, August 29, 1968” and “Someday (August 29, 1968)”—revealed the band’s political views, with captured live chanting voices from the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago and which ended in violence.
But when CTA didn’t like the idea of a band adopting its name and threatened to file a lawsuit, the band settled to just use Chicago.
Such a rebuke could not stop the band from a creative streak that resulted in 36 studio albums (chronologically labeled in Roman numerals) in a span of 45 years—with a string of hits including “Make Me Smile,” “Colour My World” (both tracks from a 13-minute suite written by Pankow), “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park,” “Baby What A Big Surprise,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “Hard Habit to Break” and, the biggest of them all, “If You Leave Me Now” —which shot to No. 1 in the US and UK charts, and won for Chicago its lone Grammy Award, for best pop performance by a duo or group in 1977.
The accidental death in 1978 of Kath—who sang lead vocals on “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World,” and whose guitar-playing skills had impressed Jimi Hendrix—and the departure of Cetera who went solo in 1985 have likewise failed to discourage Chicago from keeping on playing.
The band maintains a regular touring schedule, recently performing back-to-back with the likes of the Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Chicago—with Cetera confirming his participation—will join Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, N.W.A. and Steve Miller as inductees in the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies on April 8 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.