Robert Lamm, who been there for every successive incarnation of Chicago, takes the long view on how the band’s sound has developed and changed over the years.
Long-time fans tend to point to their 1970s output featuring Terry Kath as a creative high point, while Chicago saw its greatest commercial success just before Peter Cetera left in the 1980s. Kath died in 1978, and Cetera started a solo career in ’85.
These days, Lamm is joined by fellow founders Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider. Cetera was replaced by Jason Scheff, while a series of guitarists — perhaps most notably Dawayne Bailey (1986-1995) — moved through the lineup before Keith Howland took over. Original member Danny Seraphine followed Cetera out the door in 1990; Tris Imboden has been drumming ever since. Lou Pardini is at keyboards, in place of Bill Champlin, who split in 2009.
Despite that relative stability over the last decade and a half or so, and the promise of a long-awaited new studio effort, comparisons between the eras continue.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Lamm says in this WATD clip. “During whatever transition that occurred emotionally when Terry Kath died and, to a much less degree, when Peter Cetera left, the band has been a different band ever since. Believe me, I’ve moved on. I’m very engaged, and very proud of the current line up. The guys are so good. I’m loving the band. I have no regrets.”
Chicago has been recording while on tour, with an eye toward compiling songs into a future album — their first since 2006′s XXX. The first single, “Somethin’ Comin’, I Know,” was written by Lamm with Gerry Beckley of the band America. Lamm and Beckley memorably collaborated with the Beach Boys’ late founder Carl Wilson in the ’90s, producing 2000′s Like a Brother.