The trademark opening horn notes on their #1 hit, "Kind of a Drag" became a signature of the Chicago horn sound as identifiable as The Buckinghams themselves. Their first manager/co-producer, Carl Bonafede, signed them to Chicago's USA Records. With big band musician Dan Belloc as co-producer, and arranger Frank Tesinsky creating their horn sound, The Buckinghams recorded 12 singles. Performing on WGN-TV's "All Time Hits," for 13 weeks increased their Midwest reputation. When USA Records released "Kind of a Drag," no one anticipated the demand, as the single rocketed to #1 across the country. In 1967 Cash Box Magazine named them "The Most Promising Vocal Group in America," and they delivered.
Columbia Records offered national label distribution, and the band chose James William Guercio, who'd written Chad and Jeremy's #1 hit, "Distant Shores," as their new manager. The Guercio-produced "Time and Charges" and "Portraits" albums created 4 more Top 10 singles for Columbia. Dominating the AM radio airwaves, The Buckinghams set off a chain-reaction of demand nationwide in record stores, with hits including "Don't You Care," "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song," "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," and "Susan."
While the single "Kind of a Drag" was still at the top of the charts, USA Records quickly released 12 earlier-recorded tracks, also called "Kind of a Drag." Overnight, it became a major-selling album. Then USA also released "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," which climbed the charts alongside Columbia's first release, "Don't You Care." In 1967, The Buckinghams recorded in Columbia's New York and Los Angeles studios, in between more than 300 tour dates. With 3 chart hits at one time on 2 labels, in 1967, Billboard Magazine named them "The Most Listened to Band in America."
While the airwaves were brimming with The Buckinghams' latest tunes, TV audiences saw them on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Show," "The Jerry Lewis Show," "The Joey Bishop Show," and "American Bandstand."
The Buckinghams played to capacity crowds in arenas and festivals, sharing the bill with Gene Pitney, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Neil Diamond, America, Tom Jones, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and The Who. Thousands of teenage girls waited at concerts to rush the stage and rip clothing for souvenirs. Overnight, The Buckinghams became part of American teenage culture. Their faces were splashed onto national magazines, posters and album covers with a look and style that helped define 60s pop rock. Their horn sound turned Chicago's "Royalty of Rock and Roll" into "One of America's Answers to the British Invasion."