When it came to receiving perhaps the biggest honor in rock, Chicago are proof that it’s better late than never.
Until late last year, the popular horn-driven group had never been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, even after a long history of successful albums and hit songs. Thankfully for the band and their fans, that oversight was recently remedied when Chicago were finally inducted on April 8.
“It’s an honor,” says Chicago co-founder/trumpeter Lee Loughnane. “I didn’t realize how exciting it would actually be [until] it happened. Unless it happens, there’s really nothing to be excited about, other than all of the groundswell of people being incensed that we are not in it. Now going in, we’ll have that task accomplished.”
Despite facing snubs while Chicago racking up an impressive string of hits during the ‘70s and ‘80s like “Saturday in the Park and “You’re the Inspiration,” Loughnane and the band stayed humble and grateful.
“I think we had pretty much resigned ourselves. We were lucky enough to keep working,” Loughnane explains. “I think [this honor is] going to give a boost to our career in our 49th year of being together. Rather than trotting into the 50th year of our existence as a band, we’ll be sprinting uphill.”
The original members of Chicago were honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony earlier this month in Brooklyn, including founding guitarist-singer Terry Kath, who tragically died at the age of 31 in 1978.
“Through the years, his guitar playing has been overlooked,” says Loughnane of his former band mate, “Probably because [he was] in such a large band, but if Terry had been in a trio, he probably would have been right up there with Jimi Hendrix, who idolized Terry. It’s great for Terryto be involved in this honor as well as us. He has still been with us in spirit all these years.”
Throughout their years, Chicago survived different band line-ups and changing musical trends, with original members Loughnane, Robert Lamm, Walt Parazaider and James Pankow still leading the way. He notes, “The music has resonated with [so many different generations] in the way that the previous generation had.”
When it comes to touring, Chicago are a non-stop machine on the road pretty much annually. “We’ve enjoyed doing it,” Loughnane adds. “I’ve never done anything else with my life, so this band is it. Three things that have never failed me are music, my trumpet, and the guys in this band.”
Also, coinciding with the current tour is the documentary “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago,” which has been screened recently at film festivals. And next year, the band will officially turn the big 5-0.
“We’ll be working a lot during our 50thyear,” says Loughnane when asked about plans for the special milestone. “I can guarantee you that much.”
Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire will play on Monday April 18 at Madison Square Garden, 8 p.m.