DARKE COUNTY — The band Chicago, and this year’s fair headliner, was inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. According to original band member and trombonist Jimmy Pankow, it’s way more than they could have ever imagined.
“We are basically blessed,” Pankow said. “It has gone way beyond dreams and expectations that we could have ever had. To think that songs we wrote and recorded would now become timeless, we never would have guessed. We’re approaching a half century now.”
The band is in its 49th year of making music.
As far as fan involvement goes, Jimmy said, “people still get thrilled to death remembering where they were when they first heard a song or who they were with. We are so lucky to be able to put food on the table doing something we love to do. Thank you to the man upstairs and to the fans who make us possible.”
From Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago I, 1969, to “Now,” Chicago XXXVI, 2014, spans the range of their musical work.
Growing up, one could always tell if a new song was a Chicago song, but why? Just what makes Chicago so special? It’s the style.
“Style is everything…When we were first starting out I heard how powerful and the soulfulness of the band immediately…When I arrange horns I decided to create a style that’s unique. I approached the horn section as a main character, another vocal, melodic and opens the song. Our music also features multiple vocalists and are about everyday life and real people,” explained Pankow.
Chicago has earned a number of awards through the years. They include a Grammy Award, several American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a street in the City of Chicago dedicated to them and honors from various cities across the country.
The band has sold over 100 million records; has had 21 Top 10 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums, 11 No. 1 singles and five Gold singles. Of the band’s 36 albums, 25 have gone platinum.
The band’s roster includes four original members: Robert Lamm, keyboards and vocals; Lee Loughnane, trumpet and vocals; Jimmy Pankow, trombone; and Walt Parazaider, woodwinds. The rest of the group consists of Jason Scheff, bass and vocals; Tris Imboden, drums; Keith Howland, guitar and vocals; Lou Pardini, keyboards and vocals and Walfredo Reyes Jr. on percussion.
Chicago has toured every year since its inception.
“Every night is just like the first night you ever took the stage. Great audiences are everywhere. It’s not where you are, but who you are with…We’re not going through the motions. We’re performing at as high a level as we ever have,” Pankow said of the Darke County Fair performance.
Chicago will perform at the grandstand on Sunday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m.