UPDATE: Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8, 2016!
This original article was written on May 3, 2014
You’ve got to be kidding me! How can a band as influential and successful as this one throughout the 70’s to the present day, with only the Beach Boys topping their unbelievable chart success throughout the 70’s and 80’s for singles and albums by American bands, not be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I’ll tell you why.
It’s because according to many rock artists, the guy in charge, Jan Wenner, is an impetuous little child who adds who he feels like to the Hall of Fame simply because he can! Many reports say he does not like Chicago’s music. Personally, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Chicago; and I’m talking about dozens of family members, friends, and strangers. What’s not to love and respect about one of the greatest rock bands ever to grace a stage? There is no question that Chicago is one of the top 10-20 rock and roll bands of all time. Whenever I hear 70’s Chicago music, whether at a bar, cafe, or anywhere else, it always seems people sit or stand up and take notice. Chicago’s music is not only firmly embedded in America’s heart and taste, it’s been a huge part of people’s lives all over the world. Talk about influential! Conduct some research of your own and you will find the countless successful artists these guys heavily influenced.
This leaves me wondering; I wonder why anybody in this world should take Jan Wenner’s hall of fame seriously.
Chicago has only been together for over 47 years. They have only sold a gazillion albums. They are one of the few truly original rock bands of all time, mixing horns with rock and roll and having great success to the tune of 5 number one albums and 21 top ten hits. They have also had 8 multi-platinum, 18 , count ’em 18 platinum, and 22 gold albums throughout their career. Without a doubt, a big part of their success came from daring to be different with their slightly jazz-infused, highly-original rock sound.
Chicago’s first album, released under the name Chicago Transit Authority, contained two classics; “Does Anybody really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings”. The hits just kept on coming after that. Here’s a list of their 2nd album’s hits; “Make Me Smile”, “Colour My World”, “25 or 6 to 4”. Former lead singer Terry Kath goes down in rock and roll history as one of the most expressive vocalists and greatest guitarists of all time. It is said that Jimi Hendrix once saw an early Chicago concert and remarked to Kath, “You are a much better guitar player than me. You are the most dangerous (as in good) player I have ever seen.”
By 1972, they had already gained a huge following and the hits continued throughout the 70’s with classic songs like “Feeling Stronger Every Day”, “Just You ‘N Me”, “Make Me Smile”, “Call on Me”, “Wishing You Were Here”, “Saturday in the Park”, and the hauntingly beautiful ballad “If You Leave Me Now”. During the 80’s, just before the departure of one of their lead singers, Peter Cetera, Chicago scored huge successes with classic hits such as “Hard Habit to Break”, “Hard To Say I’m Sorry”, and “You’re the Inspiration”. The list of classic hits goes on and on.
By the way, Chicago still has 4 of the original members, including lead singer Robert Lamm, the very same guy who wrote and sang, “Saturday In the Park”, “Beginnings”, and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”. Even though the band has aged, it is so worth watching Chicago live today just to see him perform those three classics! Dude, they still rock!
Chicago is just one of the bands that has been snubbed by Wenner and his so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, they are the best one not inducted so far.
It’s sad to see how insignificant the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is. This goes beyond bands crying foul or sour grapes. It has to do with obviously deserving bands who, according to the Hall’s criteria, have had a significant impact on the evolution, development, and perpetuation of this beloved music we call rock and roll. Chicago has reached every criterion to an extreme! The Internet is littered with information on how Jan Wenner has single-handedly ruined it for all of us rock fans by making a joke out of his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He should be ashamed but he’s not.
Shame on us for supporting this pretentious institution. We deserve better. Someone should start a “Real” rock and roll hall of fame, one with an unbiased panel and one without subjective and emotionally-opinionated players making the decisions. Until then, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t mean anything. It just serves as a self-serving, disrespectful entity that no recording artist should ever be proud to be a part of. Sad…really sad. It is truly an insult to rock and roll fans worldwide.