The Terry Kath Experience (2017): Movies

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Full disclosure: I’m a sap. My wife teases me about it. We’ll be watching a movie and she’ll look at me and see the water works have sprung a leak. I’ll plead dust in the eye, but she knows the truth. However, I never in a million years would have expected a documentary to hit me like a ton of bricks.

Michelle Kath Sinclair’s emotional film The Terry Kath Experience is that rare documentary with heart. While Terry’s story has been told time and again in numerous documentaries about the history of Chicago, never has he been so humanized as in this movie. In the past, he always seemed to come across as larger than life — a Guitar God taken before his time. Fans, and arguably even his former bandmates, had put him on a pedestal and in so doing had taken his humanity away.

The Terry Kath Experience is a love letter from a daughter to the father whose life was taken before she’d ever really gotten to know him. It’s an emotional journey of getting to know that father through the stories of his friends, former bandmates, and even some of his fans – fellow guitarists like the Eagles Joe Walsh and Toto’s Steve Lukather were influenced by him – and through old home movies given to her by her mom (Terry’s widow, Camelia).

In taking this approach, Michelle was able to restore Terry Kath to a human scale, to make him more real not only to her but also to fans that she was kind enough to bring along on her emotional journey.

While stories of Chicago’s life on the road have been told before, for the first time it felt like Terry’s former bandmates — Robert Lamm, Walt Parazaider, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Danny Seraphine, Peter Cetera, and producer James William Guercio – were a bit more honest on the toll that life took on them (physically and emotionally), and the strain all of that time together put on their relationships with one another as bandmates.

In other documentaries, Chicagp’s surviving original band members have come across as confident and proud. Michelle Kath Sinclair got them to open up and display an emotional honesty and vulnerability rarely seen in previous interviews or documentaries. Gone was the bravado and pride of a band that has miraculously survived more than 50 years (much of it on the road) and in its place were down-to-earth people showing the toll those 50 years have taken on them – and the impact Terry Kath’s death had on them.

The Terry Kath Experience isn’t a documentary you merely watch; it’s one you experience and you feel. This journey is full of highs and lows but thank you, Michelle, for bringing us fans along. In getting to know your dad through these stories, you let us fans see him in a way that we’d never seen Terry Kath before.


Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
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  • Watched it on AXS… It was a great documentary and so good that Michelle finally found that Telecaster we have all been wondering about for decades. I saw Chicago in 1975.. Good Times, I miss so much

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