Chicago's homecoming to benefit food banks

June 26, 2009 11:14:56 AM PDT
Music fans here have followed the band Chicago since the days when it was the Chicago Transit Authority.Chicago (online at www.chicagotheband.com) was the first band to play at Navy Pier and the Taste of Chicago. Their music provided the soundtrack for the lives of many music lovers that grew up in Chicago. So band members can expect a warm welcome back to Chicago on Friday, June 26 when they perform at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Chicago is sharing the stage with Earth, Wind & Fire, which also has roots here. The legendary bands are touring the country together and raising money for local food banks. In exchange for cans of food or a donation, fans will be able to download three new songs recorded earlier this year. Although the fans will recognize two of the songs, the recordings will catch them by surprise, as Chicago recorded Earth, Wind & Fire's "I Can't Let You Go," and Earth, Wind & Fire recorded Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here." Together the bands created a new original song written by Earth, Wind & Fire called "You." These newly recorded songs will be available during the summer tour with a donation by the concert goers.

"Three songs for Three cans or Three dollars" will benefit specific food banks in each of the 30 cities on the summer tour. World Hunger Year, Inc. (WHY) www.whyhunger.org is coordinating the effort. WHY supports grassroots organizations that create self-reliance, economic justice and equal access to nutritious and affordable food. The organization will collect the cans and/or donations, and in exchange, the fans will be given a download card to access the three songs.

For those fans interested in participating, but unable to make it to the shows, they can visit www.EWFandChicago.com to make a donation and download the songs.

Earth, Wind and Fire's founding member and singer Philip Bailey came up with originally conceived the program; "This is a dream come true. We are honored to align with the WHY organization and help the local communities with their important work."

Chicago contacted WHY, founded by Harry Chapin. "We want to invite everyone to help us do our small part to help feed America," says Chicago's Lee Loughnane. "We worked with WHY on last year's tour. They are a great organization and we are proud to work with them again."

The 2009 Summer Tour will be presented by AEG Live. Each band will perform a full set, and the two bands will come together at the beginning and the finale featuring both bands onstage together. In 2004 and 2005, the two bands teamed up for what is still talked about as one of the great musical spectaculars in recent touring history. A DVD filmed in 2005 at the Los Angeles shows was certified double platinum almost immediately upon release - a tribute to the extraordinary and unique quality of this collaboration.

Chicago has written, recorded and performed some of the most popular and musically innovative songs in rock history. Billboard Magazine positioned the band at #13 on their Hot 100 chart's All-Time Top 100 - a byproduct of having sold more than 100,000,000 records and having earned 20 Top hits, 5 Number One albums, 5 Number One singles and 5 Gold singles. Chicago has also won a Grammy Award, American Music Awards, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, had a downtown Chicago street renamed in their honor, and been celebrated with an exhibit at the Chicago History Museum. An incredible 25 of their 30 albums have been certified platinum, and Chicago is the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five decades. Through it all, Chicago remains a working band, touring continually since forming in 1967.

On the philanthropic front, Chicago actively supports two charities through their concert ticket sales. Since 1995, the band has donated a portion of each ticket sold to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which seeks a cure to the fatal children's disease, Neimann-Pick Type C. For the last four years, the band has donated an additional portion of ticket sales to help raise money for Hannah & Friends, which works to improve the quality of life for children and adults with special needs. Hannah & Friends is the personal mission of Maura Weis and her husband, current Notre Dame Football Coach Charlie Weis.

Earth, Wind & Fire made international news recently when President Obama told Rolling Stone Magazine that the group was among his favorites in his iPod. Obama said they are "rhythm and blues and pop staples for me." The group was invited by President Obama to perform in the East Room in February at the White House for the first social event of the new administration.

The Earth, Wind & Fire 11-piece band is among the most influential, commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the last three decades. Formed in 1969 in Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire's 39-year history resulted in millions of albums sold worldwide and distinguished awards and accolades. Founding members: Maurice White (leader, vocalist, songwriter); Philip Bailey (lead vocalist, percussionist); Verdine White (bassist); Ralph Johnson (drummer and percussionist) have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and are credited with eight Grammy Awards, 20 Grammy nominations, Four American Music Awards, honors from the NAACP, the BET Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The principal members of Earth, Wind & Fire have received honorary Doctorate Degrees from the Arts and Media College at Columbia College Chicago.

Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and current Executive Director, Bill Ayres, WHY works to put an end to hunger suffered by 36.2 million Americans and nearly 1 billion people worldwide. WHY's main programs include the National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY, which refers individuals in need of emergency food assistance to soup kitchens, food banks, government programs and community organizations in their neighborhoods; the Grassroots Action Network, which provides information, networking opportunities, capacity building and access to over 8,000 anti-hunger and poverty community organizations across the United States and around the world; and Artists Against Hunger and Poverty which is supported by Bruce Springsteen, Michael McDonald, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire, Joss Stone, Darryl McDaniels, Jackson Browne, O.A.R, and many others. www.whyhunger.org

MORE ABOUT CHICAGO

Robert Lamm: keyboards, vocals
Lee Loughnane: trumpet
James Pankow: trombone
Walt Parazaider: woodwinds
Bill Champlin: keyboards: guitar, vocals
Jason Scheff: bass, vocals
Tris Imboden: drums
Keith Howland: guitar

2009 News: This year, Chicago will reunite with Earth, Wind & Fire for an epic third co-headlining US summer tour. It is a dream double bill, one that fans have been asking for since the last time the two bands teamed up, in 2005. Chicago will also perform numerous headlining shows, both in the US and abroad. In the last year, the group has sold out extensive domestic and international tours across Japan, Europe, Canada, Mexico and of course, the USA.

TV Shows: This Spring, Chicago will appear on the new Chris Isaak Hour (Biography Channel), The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson Show (CBS) and The Ellen DeGeneres Show (network affiliates) with more appearances coming.

Album Releases. In April, 2009, Madacy Records, in conjunction with Rhino Entertainment, planned to release a 3-CD collectors' edition greatest hits compilation in a special tin package. Also in April, Rhino reissued Chicago's landmark first two albums, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago II, as special 180 gram vinyl release, complete with exceptional packaging. Additionally, Rhino is readying a limited edition box set of 7" singles, a cool nod to the band's history, both as hit makers and as champions of innovative album packaging. Earlier last year, Rhino Records released Stone of Sisyphus, the great, long-awaited and unreleased album that has been an underground fan favorite for nearly 15 years. The release features bonus tracks and new liner notes. Last October, Rhino issued the Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition, a hits package that remains a top seller. Also of continuing interest is Chicago XXX, the band's excellent 2006 album, produced by Jay DeMarcus of superstar country group Rascal Flatts.

Of Note: In September, 2008, Billboard Magazine named its Top 100 artists of all time, based on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Chicago's extraordinary career landed them at Number 13, just behind artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Presley, and just ahead of Marvin Gaye, Prince and Rod Stewart. Congratulations to all!

Chicago's remarkable career achievements, both creative and commercial, are now being celebrated in many different ways. In December of 2007, Chicago was honored by the Chicago History Museum with a special exhibit, showcasing historical pieces and band memorabilia. The event was commemorated by Chicago City Alderman Vi Daley, who introduced a resolution to the Chicago City Council, by State Senator James DeLeo, who introduced a resolution to the Illinois Legislature, and by US Congressman Dan Lipinski, who entered the event into the Congressional Record. All three legislators are long-time fans and friends of the band.

In February of 2007, Chicago became a member of an exclusive and exceptionally talented club of artists when the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) bestowed upon them its Chairman's Award for Sustained Creative Achievement during the organization's 49th Annual Convention in Chicago. Fox News columnist Roger Friedman has expressed his support multiple times, and in a column dated Nov. 27, he pointed out the widely held belief that Chicago deserves even more recognition for their accomplishments than has been previously accorded. To this end, Stereophile Magazine just named the band's Chicago Transit Authority album as a "Record To Die For" in its Feb. 2008 issue, saying, "Great songs sporting kick-ass bass, drums, and guitar, along with tight, inventive horn arrangements. What more could you want?"

Lifetime Achievements: Highlights include a Grammy Award, multiple American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Chicago street dedicated in their honor, and keys to and proclamations from an impressive list of US cities. Record sales top the 100,000,000 mark, and include 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, 5 Number One singles, 13 Platinum albums and 5 Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 30 albums have been certified platinum, and Chicago is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in five decades. In addition, a live 2005 DVD of their epic performances with Earth, Wind & Fire was certified platinum in less than two months.

Charitable Concerns: Chicago actively supports two charities through their concert ticket sales. Since 1995, the band has donated a portion of each ticket sold to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which seeks a cure to the fatal children's disease, Neimann-Pick Type C. Last year, the band began donating an additional portion of ticket sales to help raise money for Hannah & Friends, which works to improve the quality of life for children and adults with special needs. Hannah & Friends is the personal mission of Maura Weis and her husband, current Notre Dame Football Coach Charlie Weis.

The Chicago-Notre Dame connection is well known: Chicago's manager, Peter Schivarelli, played football for Notre Dame under coaching legend Ara Parseghian, and Schivarelli has been a friend to the University ever since. Since bringing the band together with Coaches Parseghian and Weis, Chicago is close to reaching its goal of raising $1,000,000 for important causes.

THE HISTORY

Starting in 1967, well before all the hits started flowing, Chicago established a reputation for its powerful live show. Fueled by a passion for music, Chicago's members exploded the conventions of what rock music could or should be. The result was a groundbreaking new form, played by extraordinarily talented musicians. Early fans like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were sufficiently impressed - they took the group out on their respective tours. Once the group began making records, fans rewarded the group with record sales of 100,000,000, 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, 5 Number One singles, 13 Platinum albums and 5 Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 30 albums have been certified platinum. To date, Chicago is the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five decades - a landmark accomplishment.

Of their many highlights, many of the most important to the band are those that involve their beloved hometown.

  • By personal request of the Mayor of Chicago and the Governor of Illinois, Chicago was the first to play Navy Pier, which has become the city's biggest tourist attraction.

  • Chicago was one of the first to play the Taste of Chicago, a defining part of each summer in the city, and recently played the inaugural concerts at Northerly Island.

  • Chicago was also instrumental in raising awareness to keep the Lincoln Park Zoo free for all to enjoy.

  • On top of all this, the band has endowed a permanent Music Department chair at DePaul University, in honor of their late guitar player, Terry Kath

  • In return, both Mayor Daleys have awarded Chicago keys to the city, and a section of Chicago Avenue was designated in their honor.

  • Of course, in 1967, success was measured in more modest terms. Each member had learned a variety of styles while playing for the many different racial and ethnic groups that populate Chicago. This musical fusion struck the lovely chord that became Chicago. Paramount for this nascent group was creating a rock 'n roll band with horns. At the time, R&B artists like James Brown were upping the ante for horn sections, but it had not been attempted within the context of a rock band.

    Initially called The Big Thing, they hit the Midwest club circuit in 1967. In 1968, they took the name Chicago Transit Authority (soon simplified to Chicago), moved to Los Angeles and signed to Columbia Records.

    Chicago Transit Authority, their double-LP debut (April, 1969), was an underground hit whose sales were fueled by their incessant touring. ("In those days, I think it was 360 out of 365 days a year touring," remembers Parazaider). Chicago II (January, 1970), another two-record set, contained their first two Top Ten hits, "Make Me Smile," and "25, or 6 to 4." Their debut album held two more belated hits and also two of the band's most requested songs, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and "Beginnings," both written and sung by Robert Lamm. A third double album, Chicago III (January, 1971) consolidated their success.

    In the fall of 1971, Chicago was invited to be among the founding performing artists at the newly dedicated John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, DC. Around the same time, 18-year olds were finally given the right to vote, and the band met with Ralph Nader, Sen. Wm. Fulbright, and DC-insider Philip M. Stern to help determine ways to boost voter registration. In fact, the band registered voters at their concerts and included voter info in their historic, four-disc boxed set live album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall (October, 1971).

    The band campaigned for Sen. George McGovern during the 1972 presidential election, and later for Jerry Brown during his 1980 presidential bid. In 1996, Bill Clinton's re-election campaign used the band's hit "Beginnings" as its theme. In May 2002, Chicago performed at the National Memorial Day Concert, held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. In front of a live audience of more than 100,000 people (with millions more watching on TV), including Gen. Tommy Franks, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various Congressional leaders and Bush Administration officials, the band played in rousing tribute to the victims and heroes of September 11.

    It is interesting to note Chicago's unique tradition of naming its records with Roman numerals, which echoes classical composers who often organized their works in a similar way. In the rock world, this is forever identified with Chicago, and the tradition continues up through the band's most recent release, their 30th album, Chicago XXX.

    Chicago V (July, 1972) topped the charts for nine weeks and spawned the gold single, "Saturday In The Park." Chicago VI (June, 1973) was Number 1 for five weeks and contained the hits "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," and Just You 'N Me," the latter a Number 1 in Cash Box and another gold single. Chicago VII (March, 1974) was yet another Number 1 LP whose hits included "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," "Call On Me," and "Wishing You Were Here." Chicago VIII (March, 1975) had the group's fourth straight chart topper, the nostalgic hit, "Old Days." It's small wonder that Chicago IX - Chicago's Greatest Hits (November, 1975) eventually sold five million copies.

    But it was Chicago X (June, 1976), the recipient of three Grammy Awards, that featured the band's biggest hit of the 1970's: the worldwide Number 1 "If You Leave Me Now." The lovely ballad catapulted Chicago into the highest levels of popular success. Another ballad, "Baby, What a Big Surprise," was the major hit off Chicago XI (September, 1977). In 1977, the band was awarded 'Favorite Rock Group' at the American Music Awards.

    In early 1978, tragedy struck when guitarist Terry Kath was killed in a shooting accident. Devastated by the loss of their friend, the band nearly broke up, but eventually resolved to continue. To perpetuate Kath's memory, the band created a permanent scholarship in his name at their alumni DePaul's School of Music. Later that year, the band released Hot Streets (October, 1978), which became another million-seller. Subsequent release Chicago 13 (August, 1979) and Chicago XIV (July, 1980) brought the band to the end of its contract with Columbia Records, who then released Chicago's Greatest Hits, Volume II (Nov., 1981).

    Reaching the crossroads after 15 astounding years together might prompt some bands to consider retirement, but CHICAGO simply regrouped and recharged. They signed a long-term contract with Warner Brothers Records, and then recruited veteran Bill Champlin and turned to producer David Foster. The result was the million-selling Chicago 16 (June, 1982), featuring the gold single, "Hard To Say I'm Sorry." The band now routinely had a multi-generation audience, with a whole new generation of fans.

    Chicago 17 (May, 1984) turned out to be a landmark success for the group. Propelled by the mega- hits "Hard Habit To Break," and "You're The Inspiration," the album sold more than 7 million copies. In 1986, the band was again awarded 'Favorite Rock Group' at the American Music Awards. Chicago 18 (September, 1986) yielded the hit "Will You Still Love Me?", and Chicago 19 (June, 1988) was another smash, featuring three top Ten hits, "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love," the Number One "Look Away" (Grammy-nominated for Song of the Year) and "You're Not Alone." A fourth song from the album, "What Kind Of Man Would I Be?" became a hit when it was included on Greatest Hits (1982 - 1989) (November, 1989), an album that remains a bestseller.

    The '90's have seen Chicago 's good fortune continue to grow. The band released CHICAGO Twenty 1 later that year. On July 23, 1992, Chicago was honored with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1994, the rights to Chicago 's Columbia albums reverted back to the group, and they founded Chicago Records to reissue them.

    Chicago 's next album was the delightful Night & Day (Big Band) (May, 1995) on Giant Records, on which the group lovingly re-worked Swing Era standards. The album won acclaim and respect for the reverent way these classics like "In The Mood," and "Moonlight Serenade," were "Chicago-ized." "Sing Sing Sing" featured the Gypsy Kings. A highlight of 1996 was Chicago's headline performance at the Hollywood Bowl, playing with the famous Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

    In 1997, Chicago released the 30th Anniversary celebration record, The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997. It was here that the opportunities to work with Glen Ballard and celebrated composer James Newton Howard, as well as Lenny Kravitz presented themselves. The album was quickly certified gold, and featured the #1 AC hit, "Here In My Heart."

    In 1998, the band followed up with The Heart of Chicago 1967 - 1998 Volume II, which represented another fresh collaboration, in this case with Roy Bittan of the E Street Band. Subsequently, the band entered the studio to record an entire album with Roy Bittan, and the result was Chicago 25, their first ever holiday album. Chicago 25 was certified gold in 1999 and is considered a seasonal classic. In 2003, Chicago recorded six new holiday songs, this time with producer Phil Ramone. Rhino added those tunes to Chicago 25 and released it as Chicago Christmas: What's It Gonna Be Santa?

    In 1999, Chicago released Chicago 26, the group's first live record since the epic Chicago At Carnegie Hall Vols I-IV. The reasoning behind the Chicago 26 was simple: Chicago's current line-up deserved to be captured live and the results speak for themselves.

    In 2002, Chicago signed an impressive pact with Rhino Entertainment, which unified their early catalog with the later Warner Bros. work. Since then, Rhino has remastered and repackaged all of the band's early works on CD, giving fans the very best sound and packaging. Rhino has also released an acclaimed 39-song collection called Only The Beginning: the Very Best Of Chicago, which has been certified platinum, a comprehensive 5-CD box set featuring a special archival DVD, and a live performance DVD culled from the band's appearance on the popular TV show, A&E Live By Request.

    In 2004 and 2005, Chicago created headlines by partnering with their friends Earth, Wind & Fire for one of the most inspired co-headlining runs in recent concert business memory. Fans were enthralled by the 3 hours of music, featuring solo sets and full-band collaborations that must be seen. A DVD of the tour, "Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live At the Greek Theatre" was certified platinum less than two months after release.

    In 2006, Chicago released its 30th album, Chicago XXX. Produced by Jay DeMarcus of the superstar country group Rascal Flatts, Chicago XXX found a large audience of music fans disenchanted by much of today's music. Chicago XXX was welcomed as a tour de force studio album, with inventive melodies, great lead vocals and harmonies, the trademark horn sound, and superb all around musicianship.

    Another 2006 highlight was the University of Notre Dame's invitation to perform with its marching band during halftime at the Notre Dame vs. North Carolina football game - the first such invitation in Notre Dame history. Heroes to generations of marching bands, the members of Chicago participated in a weekend full of activities, culminating in a spectacular half-time concert in front of 80,000 people. The entire celebration was filmed and an exclusive DVD, The Greatest Halftime Show, is available now.

    Other Chicago highlights of the last few years includes the frequent use of the band's songs and music in TV shows such as HBO's "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City," as well as movies such as My Girl 2, Summer Lovers, Happy Feet, Three Kings, Starsky & Hutch, Little Nicky, and A Lot Like Love.

    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.

    For more information, check out www.chicagotheband.com


    Load Comments