Does anybody really know what year it is?

Advice from Eric Siegmund on keeping a band alive for almost 50 years:

If you seek longevity as a musician, acquire some skill on an instrument other than your voice. Inevitably, the old guys lose the upper registers (or in the case of Gary Lewis, all the registers), but the horn players can rock it until the day they pass to that Great Spit Valve in the Sky. Chicago has done a good job of finding younger replacement vocalists (who are also great instrumentalists) while keeping a core group of four original members.

From what I’m told, Robert Lamm, who wrote a lot of early Chicago tracks, is still singing them — with the exception of “25 or 6 to 4,” which he wrote but didn’t sing. (Perfect opportunity for Jason Scheff, who replaced Peter Cetera, who did sing on it.)

As for Gary Lewis, he sings more now than he used to. (Producer Snuff Garrett’s modus operandi back then: have Ron Hicklin do the basic vocal track, add Lewis double-tracked, sweeten with more Hicklin and/or other Playboys.) And there’s always, um, Auto-Tune.


  1. Eric »

    17 August 2013 · 3:18 pm

    Lamm is indeed the exception to the rule; at 68 he’s still an accomplished vocalist and keyboardist.

    In 1965, Gary Lewis was named Cash Box Magazine’s male vocalist of the year, beating out Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, thereby proving that the universe has a sense of humor.

  2. jimmy »

    18 August 2013 · 5:28 am

    I was a beginning trumpet player when I learned of Chicago. Mid ’70s? My buddy Tyree said, “Listen to these guys…this is fusion, man!” And it really was. Jazz/rock. And of course, Lee Louphnane became my hero. Until I really started listening to Terry Kath. Soulful voice and guitar licks to kill. “Free Form Guitar” is pure magic…especially for the time period. Danny Serephine on the drums? Genius.

    I have two copies of all Chicago albums thru #14. One copy never opened. What? Oh, seen ’em live 10 times over the years. Still love ’em. *shrug*

  3. Roger Green »

    18 August 2013 · 6:16 am

    “Auto-Tune” – [shudder]

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