Chicago is an American pop rock/jazz fusion band formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. The band began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock band and later moved to a predominantly softer sound, becoming famous for producing a number of hit ballads.
The band was formed when a group of DePaul University music students began playing a series of late-night jams at clubs on and off campus. They added more members, eventually growing to seven players and went professional as a cover band called The Big Thing. The band featured an unusual and unusually versatile line-up of instrumentalists, including saxophonist Walter Parazaider, trombonist James Pankow, and trumpet player Lee Loughnane, along with more traditional rock instruments – guitarist Terry Kath, keyboardist Robert Lamm, drummer Danny Seraphine, and bassist Peter Cetera (who was the last to join the original group). While gaining some success as a cover band, the group worked on original songs and, in June 1968, moved to Los Angeles, California under the guidance of their friend and manager James William Guercio, and signed with Columbia Records. After the move west, The Big Thing changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority.
Their first record (released in April 1969), the eponymous The Chicago Transit Authority, was an audacious debut: a sprawling double album, virtually unheard of for a rookie band (only “Freak Out!” by The Mothers of Invention and “Loosen Up Naturally” by Sons of Champlin, featuring Bill Champlin, who would later become a member of Chicago, preceded it) that included jazzy instrumentals, extended jams featuring Latin percussion, and experimental, feedback-laden guitar abstraction. The album began to receive heavy airplay on the newly popular FM radio band; it included a number of pop-rock gems – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings”, and “Questions 67 and 68″ – which would later be edited to a radio-friendly length, released as singles, and eventually become rock radio staples.
Soon after the album’s release, the band’s name was shortened to simply Chicago, when the actual Chicago Transit Authority threatened legal action.
1978 was a tragic and transitional year for Chicago. The year began with an acrimonious split with long-time manager James William Guercio (which had actually occurred three months earlier). Then, on January 23, guitarist/singer/songwriter/group co-founder Terry Kath died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Another version describes Kath’s drunken last words to guitar tech Don Johnson: “Don’t worry, guys. It isn’t even loaded. See?” Kath was the group’s leader onstage, and for many longtime fans, its musical soul. Terry Kath’s stunning death could have meant the end for Chicago, but encouraged by friends and admirers such as Doc Severinsen, the group held fast and soldiered on.
Color My World
“Colour My World” is a song written by James Pankow for the rock band Chicago. Part of Pankow’s Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon song cycle/suite, it was recorded for their second album Chicago II (1970). Terry Kath performed the lead vocal, and Walter Parazaider performed the highly recognizable flute solo.
Chicago continues to perform the song, either on its own, or as part of the Ballet. Since Kath’s death in 1978, the vocal has been performed by Bill Champlin until 1991, and currently by Robert Lamm.
As time goes on,
Just what you mean
Now that you’re near,
Promise your love
That I’ve waited to share
Of our moments together
Color my world with hope of loving you
- Audio from the 1970 album, Chicago II: