Chicago trumpeter and co-founder Lee Loughnane notes, with pride, that the band has been going "46 years, and we haven't taken a year off." Thirty-five years ago it came close, however.
On Jan. 23 of that year, guitarist Terry Kath killed himself with an accidental self-inflicted gunshot to the head just eight days before his 32nd birthday. At that point. Loughnane recalls, Chicago's future was genuinely in doubt.
"That was a very difficult time for us because we had to figure out if we should stay together, because Terry was the musical leader of the band," Loughnane, 66, says. "I think we all thought about it but we never discussed actually doing it.
"And it only took a couple weeks for us to realize that Terry was gone but he would've wanted us to continue and we were still on a roll and just had to figure out how to pull up the bootstraps and keep on moving."
Chicago did that successfully, and now the long-lived group is in the midst of a particularly busy period that's seen the release of a recent DVD and live album from its 2011 tour, a new documentary in the works and an appearance in Larry David's upcoming HBO film, "Clear History," which debuts July 31. Most importantly, the band is working on new music, with nearly a half-dozen songs finished that Loughnane predicts will start coming out digitally before the end of the year.
"We've been going through the growing pains of the business," he says. "We've got our own system now, our web platform so we can record our own music, put it up on the site and then send it out to whoever wants it.
"We're thinking about two songs at a time -- that's this week, at least. The most important thing is that we have music that's new and we'll be able to add it to the show, and hopefully something catches on with the public's ears again the way it has all through the years."
Chicago performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $30.50-$76 pavilion, $26 lawn with a $79 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to