Video of the Week: How Jimi Hendrix Discovered The Band Chicago

Video of the Week: Chicago–The Terry Kath Experience

Songs You May Have Missed #700

Chicago: “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” (1970)

Chicago represents different things to different fans.

If you came to this band in the post-Terry Kath 1980’s you might think sappy ballads were their forte. And you wouldn’t be wrong.

But long before that time, boys and girls, there was a time when heavy rock, complex jazz and a diversity of musical styles were more their calling card.

And from that time of their “beginnings”–from their second album, to be exact–comes thie classically-inspired 13-minute progressive-jazz-and-pop masterwork.

Trombonist James Pankow wrote the suite originally as an attempt to win back his ex-fiancee who was attending West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, West Virginia. I for one am glad he didn’t get the girl, ’cause as a result we got the song.

The 7-part epic song cycle includes two songs–“Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World”–that became top ten pop hits.

But those hits are framed wondrously by authentic jazz and jazz-rock sections sewn together to form a whole that calls to mind progressive rock suites such as Yes’ “Close to the Edge” or side two of Abbey Road.

This is rock from a time of remarkable ambition. And few bands exhibited more creative fertility than Chicago in their heyday.

  1. “Make Me Smile” (Lead vocals by Terry Kath)
  2. “So Much to Say, So Much to Give” (Lead vocals by Robert Lamm)
  3. “Anxiety’s Moment” (Instrumental)
  4. “West Virginia Fantasies” (Instrumental)
  5. “Colour My World” (Vocals by Terry Kath)
  6. “To Be Free” (Instrumental)
  7. “Now More Than Ever” (Lead vocals by Terry Kath)

See also: Songs You May Have Missed #161 | Every Moment Has A Song (

See also: Songs You May Have Missed #301 | Every Moment Has A Song (

Video of the Week: How Chicago Rocked The 60’s

Video of the Week: (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long – Leonid & Friends

Video of the Week: Chicago–Full Tanglewood Concert 1970

For fans of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Chicago who are too young to remember what a true Rock band they once were, and what a major role original lead guitarist Terry Kath was, here’s the full Tanglewood concert from 1970. The band’s mix of jazz and rock styles was truly innovative, and Kath’s guitar work astonishing.

Thanks, Renee Gray!

May 21, 1971: Chicago’s Peter Cetera Attacked by Marines


(via Ultimate Classic Rock)

45 years ago, former Chicago bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera found out the hard way that the phrase, ‘root, root, root for the home team,’ isn’t just a catchy line from a beloved song. It’s a real-world warning.

On May 20, 1969, following the completion of a grueling tour opening for Jimi Hendrix, Cetera, along with saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath and drummer Danny Seraphine decided to take a trip to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to take in a day of baseball. The bassist’s beloved Chicago Cubs were set to take on the L.A. team in the first of a three-game series. The Cubbies completely dominated the Dodgers that day and won 7-0. As bad as the beat down was, however, perhaps the biggest loser in the park was Cetera when he came upon a group of servicemen…

Read more:


“Where Do We Go From Here?”

Video of the Week: Terry Kath and Vintage Chicago Tear Up ’25 or 6 to 4′ in 1970

If you’re one of those wondering why the band who sang “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” was just elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I submit Exhibit A.

In their heyday, Chicago smoked. And lead guitarist Terry Kath was breathtaking.

Robert Lamm wrote the song. Peter Cetera sang it. But as Lamm acknowledges at the song’s end, it’s Terry Kath’s showcase.

Know what makes Rock and Roll great? The fact that a song about sitting around a recording studio doing nothing can sound this exhilarating.

Where’s the Money for a Terry Kath Documentary?

This writer has long been a champion of Terry Kath, lead guitarist/soulful vocalist of Chicago on their first eleven albums, and the man who, more than any other, lent a counter-culture soul to their early work. The comments below this YouTube video make for interesting reading:

Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarist issue didn’t have terry kath listed…….i’d say his rep has faded.  the fact that he’s not in the top 2 or 3 is a joke….

If Hendrix acknowledged TK’s “superiority”, and Hendix is Stone’s number 1, then that makes TK “Guitarist Zero”

Any so called rock magazine that lists U2’S  Edge as a top guitarist and leaves Terry Kath off the same list isn’t worth the match it would take to burn the shitty rag

Neil Young could not put strings on Terry Kath’s guitar.

This is true. Young is a amateur plunker compared to Terry.

In 2011, Dweezil Zappa, a pretty amazing guitarist, gave his “My Top 10 Guitarists” list. Terry Kath is #1, and Clapton is, very instructively IMO, NOT listed: “1. Terry Kath- This man was simply the best guitarist in the world. A full-forced powerhouse of energy. Just as good as, if not better than Hendrix. Terry could play blues, jazz, and all that feedback stuff people love Hendrix for playing. Not to mention he had a superb voice.

In fairness, there are also many comments calling out the author of the post for singling out Robert Lamm, for being negative in tone, and for sounding like the adult narrator from The Wonder Years.

Another comment gives this explanation for Kath’s relative obscurity:

Well, keep this in mind: The radio plays singles from the albums. Most of the songs he performed on the albums were never released as singles; furthermore, most of the singles that were released, especially in the beginning (like 25 or 6 to 4), had his guitar solos cut out. Most people don’t know who he is because, vocally, Peter Cetera out-shined everyone else, and when it came to writing, Robert Lamm and James Pankow wrote most of the hits that Terry sang and performed on. Let’s take Terry’s 4 most successful singles: 1) “Make Me Smile” (written by James Pankow) had the solos cut out in the beginning and the middle as “Now More Than Ever” was merged with the first part of “Ballet”; 2) “Colour My World” (again, written by James Pankow) was vocally strong (as his entire performance on Chicago II), but lacked guitar work; 3) “25 or 6 to 4” (Vocals by Peter Cetera, written by Robert Lamm) had the middle solo removed for radio play and is still missing 45 years later in most versions released; and 4) “Wishing You Were Here” (written by Peter Cetera) had a good (not great) vocal by Terry, but he was playing Bass Guitar, while Peter Cetera played lead. Other singles that had Terry featured prominently (“Dialogue Parts I & II” & “I’m A Man” & “Little One”) were either cut even worse than “25 or 6 to 4” or just didn’t chart very high at all.

In any case, respect is high among musicians and in-the-know rock fans old enough to remember Kath’s work. Hopefully Michelle Kath’s upcoming documentary Searching for Terry will enlighten those who haven’t yet come to appreciate the man’s work.


See also:

38 Years Ago Today We Lost Terry Kath


(Reprinted from The College of Rock and Roll Knowledge)

There is a story that says that Jimi Hendrix, when asked what it is like to be the greatest guitarist in the world said “I don’t know you’d have to ask Terry Kath.” (It has been said that Hendrix made that comment about Rory Gallagher also).

Terry was the original guitarist for and a founding member of Chicago. It was 38 years ago today that we lost Terry.

By 1978, Kath was regularly carrying guns around, and enjoyed playing with them. Around 5 p.m., on Jan. 23, after a party at roadie and band technician Don Johnson’s home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, Kath took an unloaded .38 revolver and put it to his head, pulling the trigger several times on the empty chambers. Johnson had warned Kath several times to be careful. Kath then picked up a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and, leaning back in a chair, said to Johnson, “Don’t worry about it … look, the clip is not even in it.” To satisfy Johnson’s concerns, Kath showed the empty magazine to Johnson. Kath then replaced the magazine in the gun, put the gun to his temple, and pulled the trigger. However, there was a round in the chamber, and Kath died instantly. Terry was only 31 years old.

His guitar playing on the first few LP’s by Chicago is legendary.

What is the first song you think about when you hear Terry’s name?

RIP Terry. You had the whole world watching and listening.


…and Kath was extremely underrated as a singer, too. Take a listen.

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