Debbie Kruger
Chicago heading and photo from 1970 I have another Chicago profile in Performing Songwriter

You can also read the full transcripts of my Chicago interviews

June 16, 2000

Chicago's Endurance
34 Years...and Counting

by Debbie Kruger

"With this album, we dedicate ourselves, our futures and our energies to the people of the revolution... And the revolution in all of its forms."

So stated the members of Chicago nearly 30 years ago in the liner notes to their second album. Much has since changed — the music, the lineup and the goals of the band – but nobody then, perhaps not even Chicago's masterful producer/manager, James William Guercio, could have foreseen the group's longevity and the steps that would be necessary to ensure survival in the shifting and evolving musical environment they had once so boldly leapt into.

Revolution? The Chicago of today is acquiescent and at times diffident, guided by a strong management team that has very fixed ideas on how to keep the band a vital entity and relevant for today's CD-buying public. But the band members — particularly the four remaining founding members who have lived through the changes, the highs and the lows and emerged grateful and humble — are mainly jubilant about their present state. They enjoy playing together, as evidenced by their dynamic live shows, and they are busily planning their course for the next few years, moving into the new century as hit-makers on their own record label, Chicago Records.

Chicago is the only American rock group to have stayed and played together consistently, with the majority of the original lineup still in tact, for more than 30 years. They are second to only The Rolling Stones for rock 'n' roll longevity worldwide. The year 2000 is their 34th consecutive year on the road, and total record sales tally more than 120 million. If their success over the past decade has been mainly due to the plethora of greatest hits collections on the market (there are 10 collections available including three overseas imports and the 4-CD box set Group Portrait), Chicago has ensured that new songs have been included on recently released collections, and their management and promotions people have worked hard to get those new songs on the radio. With one more radio hit, Chicago can claim the singular feat of having charted in five successive decades.

So how does today's Chicago compare with the earnest group of 20 to 23-year-olds who gathered in woodwind player Walter Parazaider's apartment on the north side of the Windy City on Feb. 15, 1967, to shake hands and formally launch their musical enterprise?

The fact that people want to draw such comparisons is inevitable but often frustrating to the original members of Chicago. The group is now at a completely different stage in their musical life, due to both personal evolution and the forces of an entirely different record industry. Keyboard player Robert Lamm and trombonist James Pankow, composing and arranging for the group since its inception, don't mind exploring the past — they are often candid and revealing about their creative sacrifices they have had to make along the way. But they are keen to emphatically declare their present and future orientations. To them, it's all about the bigger picture.

"There have been so many moments in my life, experiences that I've had, that I know I would not have had, had I not been in Chicago," Lamm reflected.

"It's been one hell of a ride," said Pankow. "I mean, one hell of a ride. I don't know if there are any trombone players that have enjoyed what I have. Trombone is not a common instrument, especially in pop. So I'm one of a kind. And it's because I was in the right place at the right time. And I'm still having fun. So I feel very fortunate."


Chicago's genesis was in 1966 when 21 year-old Parazaider, unsure of his destiny as a classical clarinet player and studying teaching at De Paul University, decided to explore the concept of a rock 'n' roll band with horns. His band, The Missing Links, included Terry Kath on bass and Danny Seraphine on drums. Fellow De Paul students, trumpet-player Lee Loughnane and trombonist Pankow were soon added to the lineup, and when Kath switched over to guitar, a bassist and keyboard player were sought. They found both in one package with Lamm, who played piano, organ, and bass pedals for his own outfit, Bobby Charles and The Wanderers. Luring him over, Parazaider and company had found their missing link and decided on a new name, The Big Thing.

Their first performance was in Lyons, IL, in March 1967. Some six months later they were playing in Michigan where another old De Paul student and friend of Parazaider's, Jimmy Guercio, caught their act. Now a producer for CBS Records, Guercio told The Big Thing that he would be back in touch. While the group honed their playing skills and began to focus on composing original material, they added a seventh member, bass player Peter Cetera, relieving Lamm of his pedal-pushing chores and completing the vocal section of the group, with Kath singing bass, Lamm baritone, and Cetera tenor. By the time Guercio caught up with the group again in March of 1968, at Chicago's famous club, Barnaby's, The Big Thing was primed for a big move.

Guercio's vision coupled with Parazaider's concept was soon realized. Guercio, a session player whose experience included early gigs with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, a manager whose main act had been British duo Chad and Jeremy, and a producer with credits including The Buckinghams and Blood Sweat & Tears, took The Big Thing under his wing, financed their move to Los Angeles and renamed them Chicago Transit Authority in honor of the train line back home.

James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane

Their eponymous recording debut was released in April 1969, an audacious double album that rocked from the opening horn lines in Kath's "Introduction," wafted through piano improvisation to the catchy pop chords of Lamm's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and then to the strumming acoustic guitar of another Lamm composition, "Beginnings." The rest of the album reflected sociological soul-searching ("Questions 67 & 68," "South California Purples"), political soul-searching ("Prologue" and "Someday," using audio samples from the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago) and live, raw uncut jamming ("I'm a Man" and "Liberation"). The group was immediately unclassifiable; their album was twice the length of a standard debut, the songs too long for AM radio to pick up as singles. But FM radio and college audiences embraced this new underground sound. "It was the college kids and word of mouth that made that album such an incredible, enormous mainstay on the pop charts," Pankow has remarked.

Chicago Transit Authority entered the Billboard Top LPs chart for the week ending May 17, 1969, and eventually peaked at #17. By the end of 1972 it had been on the chart for 148 weeks, with no end in sight. By then the band's fifth album had hit #1, and the albums in between had been or still were charting in high positions. With the abbreviated moniker of Chicago and a logo that would become a mainstay throughout the years, Chicago prolifically released two more double albums containing songs such as "25 or 6 to 4," " Make Me Smile," and "Colour My World" (both part of a suite by Pankow titled "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon") and "Free." Even bolder than releasing three double albums in less than two years, Chicago's fourth album was a four-record box set recorded live at New York's Carnegie Hall in April 1971. Released in October of that year, the quality of the recording was questionable — the band's member have openly acknowledged its inferiority and pointed listeners instead in the direction of the Live in Japan album, now available in the US.

Chicago V and VI were the group's first one-disc sets, beginning a string of #1 albums recorded at Caribou Ranch, Guercio's new studio in Colorado. Aided by singles such as "Saturday In The Park," "Just You 'N' Me" and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," sales soared. Chicago VII was a return to the double album format with improvisational and jazz-influenced tracks while still catering to the radio market with hits such as "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," "Call On Me" and "Wishing You Were Here." The latter, a wistful ballad with harmonies provided by Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, and Al Jardine of The Beach Boys, was a Cetera composition that foreshadowed the band's direction. In 1976 with the release of Chicago X, Chicago found itself unwittingly — and for the most part unwillingly — perceived as a ballad group. "If You Leave Me Now" hit #1 around the world, and the record company wanted more of the same. Although Chicago XI contained some of Kath's most potently bluesy vocals and guitar work, it is best known for the hit Cetera ballad, "Baby What a Big Surprise."

Kath's influence in the group since day one has been crucial. While his compositions were not hit singles, they were at the backbone of Chicago's album successes, and his stage presence was forceful. Jimi Hendrix was one of his greatest admirers in the early years. Kath was working on songs for a solo album at the time he shot himself with a gun he thought was not loaded. His death on Jan. 23, 1978, only eight days before his 32nd birthday, was a blow some members of the band still have not come to terms with. "I dream about him all the time," confessed Lamm, who also concedes that Kath's own demons were at play in his untimely death. "If Terry would have sobered up," the potential was enormous," he said.

"He was leaning toward grasping a new technology, all the technology that we're now immersed in," said Lamm. "My fantasy is that he probably would have mastered that technology before anybody else in the band, because he really wanted to do that. He was already doing crazy things with his little home studio set-up anyway. Had he not died, the direction that the band would have taken would definitely have been influenced by his still being around, his interest in the technology. And who knows where that would have ended up, but I don't think that we would be the band that we are now. I'm not saying that it would have been a better band, I'm saying that it would be a different band."

Chicago had parted ways with Guercio after mounting tensions, but neither that nor Kath's demise deterred the group from carrying on. In fact, the rapidity with which the band's 12th album was written and recorded after Kath's death was, in retrospect, staggering. With new guitarist, Donnie "Hot Licks" Dacus in tow, Hot Streets was released in October 1978 and almost immediately certified platinum. Reverting back to numeric titles the following year, Chicago 13 was the first Chicago album to sell fewer than a million copies. Perhaps it was a delayed response to the enormous losses the band had suffered or changing musical tastes as the '70s came to an end, but Chicago was now losing its grip. Dacus, who had made them feel "alive again," was out, replaced by Chris Pinnick, whose guitar work was featured on the lackluster Chicago XIV. Although Pinnick toured with Chicago in the early 80s. he did not remain a permanent member of the group, eventually replaced by Dawayne Bailey, who played guitar for Chicago for some 10 years. Until Bailey was in turn replaced in 1995 by Keith Howland, the original members of Chicago felt that Kath's shoes had never adequately been filled.

"I think we're all very optimistic people," said Lamm, "and in the case of Donnie and Chris Pinnick and Dawayne Bailey, we really would not have allowed those guys in the band if we didn't really think at that time that it was going to work out really great."

One change to the line-up that began as some session guitar work and resulted in an expansion of the Chicago sound into new areas was the addition of Bill Champlin in 1981. A noted session singer and musician, he was a highly influential player in the San Francisco scene of the 1960s with his group, Sons of Champlin, before moving to Los Angeles in the 1970s. His vocal style closely resembled Kath's, his synthesizers beefed up the group's sound as the '80s progressed and his temperament was perfect for the group. Although still considered a "new" member by die-hard Chicago pursuits, Champlin has been with the group for 18 years, and his writing contributions have been significant.

A key factor in the endurance of Chicago is camaraderie, the fact that the members of the group genuinely like each other. It goes back to that handshake in 1967, a brotherly bonding that, despite lineup changes, has never wavered. Unlike other groups whose internal disharmony has been legendary — The Beach Boys or the Eagles for example — Chicago has always presented a united front. "That whole thing is the epitome of the stupid rock band," said Lamm. "Like the stupid rock band guys who don't want to ride in the same car, they don't want to share a dressing room, and it just goes downhill from there. They have one hit and the four guys in the band don't want to ride in the same limo, and they all get different managers. That's the prototype for the stupid rock band."

"We're not stupid, let's put it that way. We may be dumb, but we're not stupid."

"And we agree to disagree," added Pankow. "All of us have opinions. We're not, 'You have to think like I do.' We're not of that mind. Robert is an individual, I'm an individual, and we have beefs, trust me, we have conflicts. But we talk. We settle differences before they get out of hand."

And when differences became irreconcilable, founding members left. Kath's death aside, this has only happened twice in more than 30 years. Cetera had been charting his own course since his ballad compositions had become the more recognizable Chicago sound. Once Chicago began working with producer David Foster in 1981, Cetera had an ally.

"Peter hated horns. He hated the horns," Pankow stated. "I wouldn't be surprised if they were talking about Peter leaving the band and doing a partnership thing long before it happened. They were nurturing something completely separate from what this band was. [Foster] was creating a wedge between Peter and the band. But that wedge would have been there anyway, because Peter and the horn section in this band never saw eye to eye."

"And then," Pankow added wryly, "Peter went out and made records with horns on them. Look at 'The Glory of Love,' the first single he made after he left the band. It's a Chicago production. I mean, come on. Michael Omartian put a Chicago horn section on there. I might as well have written it myself and played it. So I didn't get it — and I'm not patting myself on the back — that's the way it is. I find it quite ludicrous that all that went down, but it's a lot of grey matter we're talking about here."

Cetera's replacement in 1986 was 23-year-old Jason Scheff, a bass player, tenor singer and budding songwriter whose greatest role model was his father, legendary bassist Jerry Scheff. A few years later another founding Chicago member left the fold, this time drummer Seraphine. While little was said officially about the departure, word was that Seraphine's performances and reliability had been waning for some time. Pankow divulged, in fact, that the problems with Seraphine went back to even before Kath's death. The addition of percussionist Laudir de Oliviera in the mid-1970s, according to Pankow, was on Kath's instigation to bolster a flagging rhythm section. Oliviera disappeared when Chicago took a more synthesized sound in the 1980s, but Seraphine hung on until, Pankow said, the situation became untenable. In 1990 Seraphine was out, and new drummer Tris Imboden was in.

By this time Chicago had undergone a radical transformation in order to survive the 1980s. When Champlin came on board in 1981, he recommended Foster as a producer for the band's 16th album. After a three-year slump, Chicago was back on top with a new record company (Warner Brothers), a new producer, and hits such as "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," and, on Chicago 17, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration." Foster's work with Chicago was profitable, without a doubt, but his contribution to the band's artistic development was and still is a contentious issue.

"David Foster made the Chicago sound in his image," averred Lamm, but in the same breath he gave the acknowledgment, "I firmly believe that without David Foster at that time the band probably would have ceased to exist, at least as a mainstream band. It would have taken a lot of struggle, if we hadn't had those hits, for us to find our way. That was like the right guy at the right time both for us and with radio."

"Well, he was on the rise," Pankow interrupted. "When we did Chicago 16 with him, he wasn't the famous, sought-after person he is now. He was up and coming. But he was hungry. And we were hungry for a jump start and, like Robert said, we were both at the right place at the right time and it worked. I don't necessarily agree with the fact that if it hadn't been him it wouldn't have been someone else."

"Yeah, we have that kind of tenaciousness," Lamm agreed. "But it didn't really happen with Phil Ramone, and it didn't really happen with Tom Dowd, and whoever else we worked with before David, it didn't really happen. We weren't ready for it to happen, and we kind of got by with those albums. But David really created a sound that incorporated the Chicago sound but turned out to be his sound. His sound using Chicago as an instrument.

"David Foster badly, still to this day, wants to be an artist. And he'll never be an artist. So what he does is makes records using artists so that what he does can shine through, using the artists as a synthesizer, if you will."

"And the guy is an amazing, talented guy," added Pankow, "but it's almost as if he's going, 'OK, you guys go play in traffic, and I'll make this record. I'll put as much of you guys as I need to get the Chicago sound across.' With the horn section he'd say, 'OK, here's the line I want you guys to play.' So I went, 'David, don't tell me what to write, because that is the magic of what we do. It comes from this brain, not that brain.' And it got to the point where we did bump heads quite severely."

Pankow butted heads with other producers along the way, as the ballad style of "If You Leave Me Now" and "Hard Habit To Break" became Chicago's newly identified sound, and the horns became muted. Chicago's studio album output slowed down in the '90s and its new management under Howard Kaufman, along with record company pressures, steered the band in the direction of recording material by other composers such as Diane Warren. Even when Pankow's compositions were recorded, his influence was continually challenged.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been in the control booth when a producer and certain members of the band, and I'd hear, 'The horns, the horns are too loud. They're conflicting with the vocals!'" Pankow recalled. "I don't write horns to conflict with vocals. I write horns as an extension of the vocals. In the old days, however, I used to write horns very harmonically. 'Questions 67 & 68' is probably a very good example of how I used to approach horns. I had no rests. We played from the first bar of the song, which is not very musical anymore. We got away with that then, I guess. Guercio used to triple, quite often. He'd have three sections, and the one in the middle was me playing pedals, that's why it sounded like Count Basie. It sounded like a big band."

"These other guys, they had no idea how to set up the mikes, they had no clue as to what a horn section was. And James Newton Howard, I worked with him and he sent me a rough mix, and I said, 'Hey James, the horns are buried. You can't even hear them.' He said, 'Oh well. That's just a rough mix. Don't worry about it, I know your level.' And I said, 'Not only that, but the tenor's too hot in the mix. It doesn't have that round, fat Chicago characteristic to it.' And he said, 'Yeah, yeah, I know.' And then I got the final mix. No change. That was 'Here In My Heart.' I found it more than a little insulting that the guy would stroke me and tell me this is just a rough mix and then for posterity, forever on disc and for the rest of the world to hear is a horn section that sounds like shit. It's not mixed properly. That's not the way a real horn section is mixed. And then people come up to me and go, 'Man, I miss the horns. Why do you guys do that?' It's because of people like that."

"Here In My Heart" was one of the four new tracks recorded to supplement the two-volume Heart of Chicago greatest hits compilations released by Warner Brothers (with whom Chicago has now severed ties) in 1997 and 1998. Different producers, including Newton Howard, Lenny Kravitz, and Glen Ballard, were brought in to give the band a radio-friendly sound. It doesn't take much prodding to discover that at least one member of the band is less than content with this approach.

"I don't want to be louder than everything," said Pankow in appropriate defense of his horns. "But don't mess with me. I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what this section should sound like. And I'm tired of working with guys that were playing in a sandbox when I was doing this."

The influence — some might say interference — of different producers on Chicago's recorded sound is an issue that has prevailed for 20 years, since Guercio's exit from the scene. "The first 11 albums are Chicago," said Lamm. "And Guercio's genius was that he captured it, and no other producer has captured it."

"And he stayed on the other side of the glass," Pankow noted. "Jimmy Guercio was kind of the mentor. As great a musician as he was — he was a very talented bass player and composer in his own right — he let us do our thing. And like Robert said, he was able to capture it incredibly well."

Chicago at the naming of Rock Group Chicago Avenue

Through the 1980s and into the '90s it was becoming clear that artistic control had been wrested from the members of Chicago. The final proof came in 1993 when what would have been the band's 22nd album, and only the second to take a title instead of a number, was outright rejected by the group's management and record company. Stone of Sisyphus contained all original material, soaring horn lines and a passion that had not been present for years. It was never released but found its way onto bootleg tapes that Chicago collectors around the world have obtained. While a few tracks did turn up on greatest hits sets, such as the Canadian Overtime double-CD release and on Lamm's own solo album Life Is Good In My Neighborhood in 1994 (minus the horns), the disappointment of the Stone of Sisyphus debacle is still palpable.

There is still a popular misconception that the composers in Chicago rarely even compose anymore. The cutting-edge, bold, improvisational direction of the Guercio days has given way to safe, conservative, albeit hit-making ballads. But Lamm and Pankow said they are still bursting with creativity. "I've been writing more in the last 10 years than I did in the first 10 years. What's happened is the trust that the management and the record company had in us has gone away," said Lamm matter-of-factly. "They basically don't trust what we do, and they don't trust us to record the music we're writing."

Pankow's stance is more equitable. "To a degree I believe that may be true. But on the other hand I believe that the music business and the nature of how songs are written, produced and why they are written for what has changed remarkably. Back when we were so prolific, or so the impression was, it was largely due to the fact that we could write just about anything we wanted to and it would get on a record, because that was where we were at that point in time. And the album or the project we were working on was chronicle of where we were in terms of our writing and musicality at that given time."

"Nowadays the music business doesn't focus on music for the sake of music. Nowadays the music business focuses on music for the sake of dollars. And that is pretty much across the board. It's become a lot of suits with a certain idea, a certain artist, a certain sound in mind, and you're competing with a style. You're not really free to do, for instance, double discs, like we used to do. You can put more than 10 songs on a CD, but whether or not that music is going to go on that CD with the same fulfillment to the artist or the same recognition is questionable. Nowadays formats are the thing on radio. Nowadays radio grabs so many songs that they play those songs for so many months, and that's the only songs they will play.

"And not only that but we became successful to the point of being recognized solely on the basis of one type of song, and that's the power ballad. With the enormous success of 'If You Leave Me Now,' radio decided that that was Chicago's sound. And I can't tell you how many attempts we made at pushing up-tempo songs to get on records. Fans would come up to us and go, 'What happened to you guys? You've been eating too much pabulum. What happened to the guts and soul and funk that you guys had back when? Now you guys have sold out.' We heard that so many times. And our answer to that was, well, we actually became victims of the success of one type of song was embraced by mass media as our sound. And no matter how hard we tried to knock that door down and get to another, like a 'Make Me Smile' or a 'Beginnings' or a '25 or 6 to 4' we've been one up-tempo song short for 30 years. You know, '25 or 6 to 4' is the encore song every night. I don't care where we are, when it is — that song has to be the closer of the show because that rock 'n' roll anthem from this band. There ain't any others.

"But I'm not here to look a gift horse in the mouth, " Pankow qualified. "Perhaps one of the reasons we're still sitting here talking to you or rehearsing for another tour... is because of the success of that ballad song. And perhaps this continued success and longevity will get us finally to the point over that hump where we can start sneaking in some more daring compositions."

Lamm has sought creative independence by working on solo albums (his latest release, In My Head came out last July) and on a breakaway trio project with America's Gerry Beckley and the late Carl Wilson, due for release this summer. Pankow wants to write and conduct a symphony. "The 'Ballet' was about as far as I could go with a rock 'n' roll band and do it live," he said. "I'm talking about going back to school and writing for up to 80 pieces. It's not too late to have fun with that. And maybe have it performed long after I'm gone — who cares? Just to fulfill myself.

"But this has been a great vehicle for whatever we've wanted to do. Chicago has allowed us to expand as individual writers. I'm actually as we speak getting into a situation where I can write for TV, write for other artists, sell songs outside of this, songs that this band wouldn't want or couldn't do. Because that limits what we do, Robert maybe wants to write for Broadway. There are other scenarios for our writing, and that's what I'd like to do, collaborate in different fields. That would challenge me."

Meanwhile Pankow and the Chicago members were able to reaffirm their brassy heritage on the 1995 Night & Day album, featuring standards by Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and other Big Band composers, given the modern Chicago treatment. The album was critically acclaimed, but its release on Giant Records proved less successful commercially than the band had hoped. Pankow said Chicago records is now buying it from Giant and will re-release it. "And you want to hear some brass — that's some of the best work I've done."

Chicago Records was originally established to reissue past products from the CBS catalogue, but it's a good sign that two new albums have so far been issued on their new label. In 1998, Chicago 25 was the band's first Christmas album, containing modern interpretations of standard holiday songs. And last year's Chicago 26 was a live album. The next studio album, and the one Lamm seems sure will contain more original and adventurous material recalling the earlier Chicago spirit, is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2001. As Pankow stated with a chuckle, "There have been enough Greatest Hits for a couple of lifetimes!"

"Chicago Records is for me one of the greatest things," said Lamm. "If we didn't have Chicago Records I think that it's very likely there wouldn't be any place for us to go with new music."

In concert, Chicago is still a formidable entity. Certainly there are those long-term fans that would like to hear the more obscure cuts from the first seven albums, but Chicago is mindful of its market. "The audience comes to hear certain songs," explained Pankow. "Without that audience, without that fan base, what's the point? We wouldn't have a career. We made the mistake one year of doing a very narcissistic set for ourselves. We did what we called the jazz set, and we did all the instrumental, more obscure music in our catalogue because it was fun to play and we had never had a chance to do that live. And the year after that, subsequently only half our audience showed up."

Pankow is referring to 1974, however, when the band only had a catalogue of six studio albums to draw from. One might suggest that with more than 30 years of music behind them, the choice would be more varied. But beyond the addition of "Questions 67 & 68" and the "Ballet" a Chicago concert consists of established hits.

"We tend to be a little conservative in the way we structure our shows," Lamm said, "because the audience that comes has a certain expectation, and we don't want to disappoint that." Hence a song such as "Beginnings" has been played, Lamm estimated, around 3,600 times.

"There are songs that you must do, and every night you do them the crowd changes," Pankow stated. "Every night is like the first time to a large degree because the audience situation is different. If we were to do that song 80 dates in LA for our friends it would be rough, because you'd have to make believe you were getting a fresh take on it."

"One of my MOs you might say, is to get out there every night, and if I can play every note in that song, I don't care if I've played it a million times, if I can make every note count, then before I know it the song is over. Because I'm so absorbed in playing that song perfectly that that becomes a challenge within the song. Instead of just 'Oh God, we've gotta play this song again,' I'm thinking 'OK, let's see. I'm gonna dial in these notes. There's a particular section that gives me trouble. I'm gonna play it perfectly tonight.' And so I tend to look at the songs as a piece of music, and I'm gonna perform this piece of music flawlessly, as if I were up there for a solo recital."

Chicago Today

One of the key elements of today's Chicago is guitarist Howland who, while understated in his presence, more closely approximates Kath's playing than any of his predecessors. There is no doubt, for anyone who has followed Chicago since its early days, that the spirit of Kath still pervades the band, and, for the remaining original members, still spurs them on. Said Pankow, "I am convinced that he is just smiling ear to ear in the fact that we're such a bunch of tenacious bastards, we're down here, man, we're not letting go, we're going to do this until we get it right. That's the way we like to say it. And I think he's proud of us. Terry was a great inspiration to us when he was alive. And we think of him quite often with great fondness, and I hope he does the same — I hope he's having fun. I hope they're saving us a place in the section, you know."

But as with every facet of life, the passing of the years have provided a perspective that could never have been available to those unseasoned kids who launched their band on a handshake and firm resolution in 1967.

"You know, this is rock 'n' roll. It's music," concluded Pankow. "It's not a cure for cancer. It's not a new wheel. This is entertainment. And granted, it gives life a quality that otherwise it wouldn't have, just like beautiful flowers do and things in nature that give extra meaning in life. And it's great to be a part of a career and an endeavor that's perhaps given lots of people happiness and a place to go when life gets them down."

"But maybe perhaps we're staying together to make that record that we've been wanting to make for so many years and haven't been able to. Who knows? I know that there are things left that we want to do before we hang up our cleats."

Photo of Chicago 1999

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