Thursday, February 11, 2016

CHICAGO: Enough Already

For the past eleven years we have championed Chicago as being one of the most Deserving and Denied artists overlooked by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

The very basis for induction into this elite (and thoroughly confusing and frustrating) group was to honor those who took rock and roll into new directions, establishing new trends and inspiring others to take those strides even further.

It was frustrating and infuriating to see a group as great and talented as Chicago snubbed each and every year of eligibility by never even so much as making the ballot.

And then ... finally ... THIS year all of that changed.  Not only did Chicago finally make the ballot but they also won by a landslide the popular vote of the public, capturing 24% of all of the votes cast for the fifteen acts nominated ... an incredible 36.7 MILLION votes ... over 11 1/2 million more votes than the next closest runner-up.  Finally ... VINDICATION for their incredible contribution to rock history.

But for weeks now all of that glory has been polluted by comments from Peter Cetera about whether or not  he will accept his award and perform again with his old bandmates ... as if HIS presence is the only thing that brings credibility to this honor.

It's a shame ... and frankly, downright embarrassing.

Chicago has NEVER been about one individual.  They are and have always been an ensemble act where ALL members have contributed to their overall sound and legacy.

Over the course of their fifty year career, they have overcome both tragedy (the death of guitarist / vocalist Terry Kath) and vanity (Peter Cetera leaving for a solo career in 1985) ... and, for the past 30+ years now have soldiered on WITHOUT Cetera, traveling the world many times over, playing to sold out, appreciative audiences around the globe.

In fact, one could quite favorably argue that it was Peter Cetera's collaborations with songwriter / producer David Foster that contributed to their lack of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame recognition for decades because they were no longer perceived as the innovative, progressive band they were when they first launched their career and made their mark in the public eye, choosing instead to take the far-safer soft-rock approach with middle-of-the-road fluff and schmaltzy ballads.

Don't get me wrong ... Chicago's all-time biggest hits came as a direct result of this shift of genre but, like any deal with the devil, long time fans and critics alike felt that perhaps they had lost their edge in the process ... and, along with it, any street cred that would have endeared them to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominating Committee years earlier. 

This award has been a long time coming ... it was incredibly satisfying to see them FINALLY rewarded for all their musical efforts and contributions.

But then, shortly after the first of the year, when Peter Cetera posted his list of "demands" under which conditions he would perform with the band again at the awards ceremony, this quickly began a downhill spiral.   

As a finale, we can walk onstage together one last time as a group, I’ll strap on the bass, and we can do 25 or 6 to 4 in the key of E. I believe it would make for one fantastic Hall of Fame moment and satisfy those who have always wanted some sort of reunion.  (Peter Cetera)

In our post dated January 9th, we complimented Peter on his inclusion of other key members of Chicago over the years that he felt should also be recognized for their contributions. 

How we went from this encouraging comment to all that Peter posted this week is beyond me ...

First (posted last Friday, February 5th):  

Hello everyone!
I know you’re all waiting to hear what’s happening with the Hall of Fame. I know how frustrated you all are, but trust me, no one is more tired and frustrated than yours truly. 
I had a conference call with the musical department today and I’ve presented another song option. Right now it’s about a fiddy fiddy chance that we can hammer something out by the weekend. Frankly folks, I'm done if this doesn’t work out. Here’s hoping this one works … I'll let you know either way ASAP …
PS As of today it’s now down to 25 per cent chance of happening.

And then this, posted on Monday, February 8th:   

I just sent this to the RnR hall of fame people. This is the the short high road nice version of what I really wanted to say. I’ll post that response at the appropriate time. 

Hello Alex and Joel!
Unfortunately, this scenario doesn’t work for me. I know we all did our best to make it happen, but I guess it’s just not meant to be.
Personally, I’m frustrated and tired of dealing with this and it’s time to move on. I have a life with two beautiful daughters and a solo career and it's time to get back and give them all the full attention they deserve.
Thanks for all your help and consideration! Have a great show and please send any individual award I receive to the contact you have for me.  
All the best,  
Peter Cetera
After displaying nothing but extreme excitement about being inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the prospect of playing with Peter Cetera again ... followed by a round of sincere disappointment that Peter may not participate after all, Chicago posted this notice by way of their manager, Peter Schivarelli, earlier this week ...  

The rock group, Chicago, is honored to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8 in New York and are looking forward to performing at the event. 

The four original band members, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, Jimmy Pankow and Walt Parazaider, will be there, as well as former original band member Danny Seraphine. 

Peter Cetera, despite the best efforts of the Rock Hall and the band to reach a happy middle ground, made his decision not to participate. He has made it clear twice now that he will not attend or perform. Cetera, who was an original band member, has been gone for over 30 years. 

Chicago have performed consistently every year heading into their 50th anniversary without ever missing a year.  

Schivarelli went on to say “The band has looked forward to this day since they got word of their induction. They’ve waited a long time and are excited to perform for their fans and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame crowd.”  

What a shame ... and what a waste ... all those years of toiling together to make a name for yourselves and live the dream, winning over MILLIONS of lifelong fans in the process ... followed by all those years of waiting to FINALLY be recognized for your accomplishments and contributions to the history of rock and roll ... thrown aside by some petty bullshit.  It almost makes it embarrassing for having campaigned for them ... 

Almost ...  

But the truth is these guys deserve it and I'm STILL proud to see them make it.  Fuck Peter Cetera ... don't let him diminish this moment from you in ANY way.  Do not allow him to steal one decibel of thunder so rightly earned by this great band.  This is YOUR moment to shine.  Congratulations to the guys who made it all happen ... stuck with it through even the most difficult of times ... and continue to entertain and delight their devoted audience.  

All hail Chicago ... or at least the guys who are still PROUD to call themselves by that name. 
Kent Kotal   
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