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, 11 Number One singles and 5 Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 32 albums have been certified platinum. To date, Chicago is the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five decades - a landmark accomplishment.
Initially called The Big Thing, they hit the Midwest club circuit in 1967. In 1968, they took the name Chicago Transit Authority, 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). They simplified their name on the liner notes of the CTA album, and from that point on, the band was called Chicago. 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).
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 One for five weeks and contained the hits "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," and "Just You 'N Me," the latter a Number One in Cash Box and another gold single. Chicago VII (March, 1974) was yet another Number One LP whose hits included "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," "Call On Me," and "Wishing You Were Here." Chicago Vlll (March, 1975) had the group's fourth straight chart topper, the nostalgic hit, "Old Days." It's no small wonder that Chicago lX - 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 One "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 Xl (September, 1977).
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. 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 ll (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 saw 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."
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 Adult Contemporary 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 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.
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.
In September, 2008, 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 featured bonus tracks and new liner notes, and is officially the group's 31st album. Rhino also issued the group's 32nd album, The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition, a hits package that remains a top seller and was recently certified Gold.
In 2009, Madacy Records, in conjunction with Rhino Entertainment, released a 3-CD collectors' edition greatest hits compilation in a special tin package. Also in 2009, Chicago reunited with Earth, Wind & Fire for an epic third co-headlining US summer tour.
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.
Chicago's current lineup includes Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals); Lee Loughnane (trumpet); James Pankow (trombone); Walt Parazaider (woodwinds); Jason Scheff (bass, vocals); Tris Imboden (drums); Keith Howland (guitar); Lou Pardini (keyboards, vocals); and Drew Hester (percussion).
About the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg UniversityThe mission of the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University is to support and enhance the University's role in academic and cultural enrichment for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Luhrs Center's 1,500-seat state-of-the-art Grove Theatre is where programs to educate, enlighten and entertain are presented. Benefits of the Center to the region include expanding opportunities to participate in a wide range of cultural programming including full-scale Broadway companies, musical groups, symphonies, dance troupes and internationally known speakers. In addition, it adds options for professional training programs, youth programs and senior citizen programs; attracts regional and national business conferences, professional meetings and planning sessions; and additional visitors to the area which will result in a positive impact on the local and regional economy.