This month, Martin Cooper travels to the Windy City to look at a band that made the 80s power ballad their own – the one and only Chicago.
Martin Cooper examines one of the mightiest of US bands: Chicago and guitarist Terry Kath.
changed their name to Chicago and took the inspiration for their now well-known logo from Coca-Cola. They are also one of the most successful American bands of all time, second only to The Beach Boys in terms of album sales, with 18 platinum and eight multi-platinum albums among the 100 million sales they’ve achieved.
Formed originally by saxophonist Walter parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath, drummer danny seraphine, trombonist James pankow, trumpeter lee loughnane and keyboardist and singer robert lamm, Chicago has had many line-up changes over the years. Bassist peter Cetera went on to have a lot of success as a solo artist while current guitarist Keith Howland has been with the band since 1995. other guitarists to feature with the band have been Chris pinnick in the early 1980s and dawayne Bailey who was with them before Howland took over. They continue to play live and record, including tours with the likes of The doobie Brothers, and earth, Wind & Fire. They have appeared over the past few years on hit shows such as American idol, as well as performing at the legendary red rocks venue in Colorado with the Colorado symphony orchestra.
The band changed their more experimental sound to the well known pop-rock ballad style after the death of original guitarist Terry Kath, who sadly died from a self-inflicted but accidental gunshot wound. With producer david Foster at the helm, the 80s ushered in an era of lush arrangements and big choruses, culminating in some of the biggest pop hits of the day, including you’re The inspiration and Hard Habit To Break.
it’s the big chorus and huge rock guitar era of Chicago that we’re looking at this month, and this style features on songs such as stay The night and look Away, so check out the get The Tone box for ideas on how to get that classic 80s rock type sound.
This month’s track is in the key of C major (C-d-e-F-g-A-B), although there are some notes and chords outside the key, such as d major and the Bb power chord. The intro uses clean guitar arpeggios, as well as some big overdriven power chords and single-note lines. it also features a solo that employs the C major scale and targets specific chord tones over the chord changes. make sure you have a look at the notation and the playing tips as well to really nail the Chicago sound.
chicago are second only to The Beach Boys in terms of album sales by american bands in the USa.
Terry Kath was said to be one of Jimi Hendrix’s favourite players