SUCH A NICE RETURN for the rock and jazz band Chicago, appearing live and on stage this first week in August at Interlochen. The group opened the abbreviated 2021 Summer Concert Series at the iconic summer venue that had been closed for nearly a year and a half because of Covid-19 mandates by a plethora of feckless leaders.
I recall attending one of their early concerts when my small college (Albion) booked the group when it was still called Chicago Transit Authority - apparently a lawsuit by the real transit authority forced them to change their name back in 1969. I wonder how come Chicago didn't sue them?
Bob Hollingshead, a fraternity brother, headed the bookings for the college that brought bands to our campus. Usually, it was an unheralded group for dances and "bust-outs" which were two-hour mid-week dance parties intended to relieve stress from our rigorous studies (for some of us.). Bob had booked CTA in the fall for a following year's spring concert. I had never heard of the group but was informed by him that these guys were, “Going to be big.”
Sure enough, that entire fall and winter their songs were hitting gold at every turn. Bob had booked them for seven grand which was about half his budget for the entire year of entertainment from the college. Sleepless nights ensued fearing they would cancel as they were instantly receiving 10 times this fee for a performance. The entire campus wondered if they would play one song and leave?
Not a chance.
They played two hours performing their greatest hits with absolute enthusiasm. The students loved every minute even as the band members moved often to their mic's kidding the audience about getting," the deal of the decade."
Next to the Bee Gees they became my favorite rock band of that era. Their horns joined a collection of guitars and vocals creating a unique new music genre. Their upbeat orchestrations led to sales of over 100 million albums in the decades that followed.
By the way, Chicago, thank you for honoring your contract.