Perhaps more than any other city in the United States, Chicago, located at the center of the nation, has reflected the cultural diversity that has served as both a nurturer of significant musical talent and a magnet that drew the best from other areas. Jazzman Lionel Hampton arrived in Chicago when he was 11 years old in 1919, blues man Muddy Waters got there in 1943, when he was 28. But Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, didn't have to travel, he was born in Chicago in 1909.
In 1967, Chicago musicians Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera formed a group with one dream, to integrate all the musical diversity from their beloved city and weave a new sound, a rock 'n' roll band with horns. Their dream turned into 20 Top Ten singles, 12 Top Ten albums (five of which were #1), 23 Gold, 17 Platinum, and sales of more than 122 million records.
Chicago has been hard at work, coming up with more musical surprises for their audience. In addition, the band continues to donate a portion of each ticket sold to the Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which is seeking a cure to Neimann-Pick Type C disease. The Foundation was started by Coach Ara Parseghian, the Notre Dame Football legend, whose own grandchildren have been afflicted by this fatal children's disease.
Today, decades after they gathered at Parazaider's apartment, the members of Chicago continue the legacy of music they inherited from their parents and their teachers and that they have brought to millions of fans. Recently, the band returned to their hometown to appear on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and Walt Parazaider came into town a day early to visit his widowed father, now in his 80's.
"My dad, he must be playing now 65 years professionally, something like that, off and on," Parazaider notes. "I sat down with him, and he was practicing. He looked at me, and he held the trumpet in his hand, and he said, 'You know, Walt, one day I'm going to learn this thing.' That's when I had a moment of clarity, and I realized that what we've been doing all these years is not measured in a time limit, that it's a way of life, the way my father has pursued it and enjoyed it his whole life. So, later on in life, I learned what I want to be when I grow up. I'm in the pursuit of my life's work, and I finally realized it."
People have always wondered about the name "Chicago." One simple sentence from the liner notes of the very first album eliminates any question as to their identity. "If you must call them something, speak of the city where all save one were born, where all of them were schooled and bred. Call them Chicago.