[Note: Chicago was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. It’s about time.]
Chicago should be one of the no-brainer members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They had 5 #1 albums, 21 Top 10 hits on the billboard chart. Billboard ranks them as the #1 selling band of the 1970’s, and they rank second all time in American bands to the Beach Boys in terms of their success. They have 8 multi-platinum albums, 18 platinum albums, and 22 gold albums . Let’s take a look at their contribution to Rock & Roll music, their career success, and why they have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Chicago’s contribution to Rock & Roll was not an insignificant one. For one, they provided Rock & Roll with a template of how a strong producer can shape a band—both in the 1970’s with James William Guercio and in the 1980’s with David Foster. The band also was instrumental in adding jazz and latin sounds to Rock & Roll music in the early 1970’s, right along with other bands like Steely Dan and Santana in the same time period. They were also very important in their providing double disks of much of their work, especially their early work, and even releasing a 4 volume live set long before it became popular for bands like the Clash to release so many disks in the same album. Additionally, their albums Chicago XVI and XVII set the template for the sound of middle-of-the-road rock in the 1980’s. Additionally, the band had one of the epic “lost albums” in “Stone of Sisyphus,” an album with a legendary history like the “Chinese Democracy” or “Smile.” That combination of stellar success, importance as a model for other bands, and mysterious lost works says “Hall of Fame” to me.
Why Chicago Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
See the introduction. The band had hits in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s. They have remained relevant and influential despite the change of time and personnel.
Notable Songs: “25 or 6 to 4,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is?,” “Beginnings,” “Saturday In The Park,” “Feeling Stronger Everyday,” “Just You ‘N’ Me,” “Call On Me,” “Old Days,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Baby What A Big Surprise,” “Hard To Say I’m Sorry,” “Hard Habit To Break,” “You’re The Inspiration,” “Will You Still Love Me?” “Look Away,” “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” “Here In My Heart”
Why Chicago Isn’t A Member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Voters fail to realize the daring nature of their musical vision and the jazzy quality of their original work and judge them for cheesy 1980’s romantic ballads. Additionally, the band gets less credit for their success than their producers have, and the fact that they were a template for 1980’s middle-of-the-road rock is held against them.
Verdict: Put these guys in—immediately. No one holds popular success against bands like the Beatles or the Beach Boys, so why hold it against Chicago?