Turns out, Chicago has made some overtures over the years with its erstwhile former bass playing singer Peter Cetera — but he’s just not interested in rejoining the horn-rock band’s aggressive touring schedule.
Chicago, principally in the Cetera era, has sold more than 38 million albums in the United States alone, with 18 of them earning platinum level sales. That includes five No. 1 albums, though none since Cetera’s departure in 1985.
The band was initially formed in the late 1960s along with Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Danny Seraphine. Kath died in 1978; Seraphine left the band in 1990, five years after Cetera had been replaced by Jason Scheff — who is the son of Jerry Scheff, former bassist for Elvis Presley.
Chicago continues principally today as a concert act. The band last released an album of original songs in 2006, with XXX. Chicago also issued XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus in 2008, but that was in fact a shelved project from the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, Cetera has been just as quiet in the studio (having produced just one album of original, non-holiday music since 1995, Another Perfect World in 2001), and isn’t nearly as prolific on the concert trail, either. Cetera plays the occasional one-off show, or private function, but hasn’t mounted the kind of massive tours Chicago regularly undertakes.
Lamm, who met his former bandmate recently for coffee, said that’s just the way Cetera wants it. Lamm offered Cetera a guest spot on a future tour with Chicago, he said, and Cetera turned him down.
“I said: ‘Would you be interested in having your band open the show, then sing a couple of songs with us — whatever you want to do,’” Lamm told CBS Local affiliate KHITS in Chicago. “He said: “I never say never, but I’m happy doing what I do. I said: ‘What I am talking about potentially would have an amazing impact on a lot of people who love these songs. We play ‘em and we know that they love them. I think it could be really a lot fo fun.’ He said: ‘Let me think about it.’ Then, we we talked again, and he said: ‘You know, I just don’t want to work that hard.’”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Chicago. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
GIMME FIVE: SONGS WHERE CHICAGO, WELL, SUCKED: It would be easy enough to fill this list with songs from Chicago’s turn-of-the-1990s slickster years. And just as easy to heap scorn on their post-Terry Kath slump in the late 1970s. Instead, we did both. Presenting the times when Chicago simply didn’t make us smile … the times when their music made us feel sicker every day … the times when we were wishing they weren’t there … OK, you get the picture: Here are the times when Chicago, well, sucked.
SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: DRUMMER DANNY SERAPHINE, FORMERLY OF CHICAGO: A group co-founder, Seraphine had been in two prior groups with eventual Chicago saxophonist Walt Parazaider and guitarist Terry Kath. Together with trombonist James Pankow, trumpet player Lee Loughnane, keyboardist Robert Lamm and bassist Peter Cetera, they helped establish a muscular improvisational amalgam in the early 1970s. After the untimely death of Kath, inarguably the very soul of Chicago, it was Seraphine who brought in producer David Foster, a new management team and R&B-soaked singer Bill Champlin – moves that hurtled the band to superstardom in the 1980s, even as it fundamentally shifted the group’s sound towards a more commercial bent.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: CHICAGO: ans of their initial music could be forgiven for barely recognizing Chicago by the 1980s, as fussy power ballads eventually flushed out the band’s signature horn sound. A group that had built its reputation on organic experimentation, a kind of prog-fusion that earned heavy rotation on a then-new FM radio format, never returned to the album-length suites that once defined it. Well, we have. Often. Travel back now, to those thrilling days of roman numerals and Terry Kath. Here are five hand-picked sides, from their pre-guilty pleasure era.
FORMER CHICAGO MEMBER BILL CHAMPLIN ON “HARD HABIT TO BREAK,” “AFTER THE LOVE IS GONE,” OTHER SONGS: On this special edition of Something Else! Reviews’ One Track Mind, we hand the reins over former Chicago singer and keyboardist Bill Champlin. He talks about Grammy-winning tracks “Turn Your Love Around” and “After the Love Has Gone,” his contributions to Chicago, working with Toto, and how lounge-singer Robert Goulet almost got one of his gigs.