Before the hits started flowing, Chicago had already established a reputation for its powerful live performance. Starting in 1967, Chicago’s members exploded the conventions of what rock music could be. Early fans like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were impressed and took the group out on tour. Once Chicago began making records, they began setting records, with over 100 million in sales, number ones and gold singles. Incredibly, 25 of their albums have been certified platinum, and Chicago was the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five different decades.
Of course, back in 1967, the band measured success in more modest terms. Each member had picked up a variety of styles while playing for their hometown’s different ethnic groups. This musical fusion became a unique rock ‘n roll band… with horns. Initially called The Big Thing, they hit the Midwest club circuit in 1967. In 1968 they took the name Chicago Transit Authority, before finally settling on simply Chicago.
Their 1969 double-LP debut, Chicago Transit Authority, was an underground hit fueled by incessant touring. 1970’s Chicago II, another two-record set, contained their first two Top Ten hits, “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4.” Two more belated hits, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings,” emerged from their first album, becoming fan-favorites.
Chicago V spawned the gold single “Saturday In The Park,” while subsequent albums contained “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” “Just You ‘N Me,” “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” “Call On Me,” and “Wishing You Were Here,” plus thenostalgic hit “Old Days.” But it was 1976’s Chicago X that won three Grammy Awards and featured the band’s biggest hit of the 70s: worldwide number one ballad “If You Leave Me Now.”
15 astounding years together might prompt some bands to consider retirement, but Chicago regrouped and recharged. The result was 1982’s million-selling Chicago 16, featuring the gold single “Hard To Say I’m Sorry.” Chicago 17 sold more than 7 million copies thanks to mega-hits “Hard Habit To Break” and “You’re The Inspiration,” while later 80s efforts yielded the hits “Will You Still Love Me?,” “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love,” “You’re Not Alone” and the number one “Look Away.”
The ‘90s saw Chicago expand their musical domain with the delightfully different Night & Day (Big Band, on which the group lovingly re-worked Swing Era standards. The album won acclaim for the reverent way classics like “In The Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade” were Chicago-ized. The band entered the studio to record the seasonal classic Chicago 25, their first ever holiday album, certified gold in 1999.
That year, Chicago released Chicago 26, capturing the current band lineup’s live performance. In 2003, Chicago recorded six new holiday songs, this time with famed producer Phil Ramone. In 2006, Chicago released its milestone 30th album, Chicago XXX. Produced by Jay DeMarcus of the superstar country group Rascal Flatts, Chicago XXX found a large audience of music fans with inventive melodies, great lead vocals and harmonies, their trademark horn sound, and superb all-around musicianship.
Chicago started 2010 with a bang. On Jan 1, the group appeared on Brian Boitano’s NBC skating spectacular, and less than two weeks later were special guests on ABC’s hit TV show, The Bachelor. Over the year, Chicago appeared on the new Chris Isaak Hour, The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The CBS Early Show and The Tonight Show.
In recent years, Chicago toured extensively in the United States and internationally, including headlining shows in Australia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, all throughout Southeast Asia, Europe, Mexico and Canada. Chicago released their 33rd record in 2012 with their third album of holiday music, titled O Christmas Three. The album features special guests Dolly Parton, America, Steve Cropper, and BeBe Winans. In 2013, Chicago joined forces again with the American Cancer Society to help create a world with less breast cancer.
Through it all, Chicago continues to be true ambassadors for their beloved hometown, carrying the city’s name with pride and dignity around the world.
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