When Chicago  was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the inductees refused to join them: Peter Cetera. Peter Cetera, who was responsible for writing some of and singing many more of Chicago’s hits in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, went solo after some years of being dissatisfied with the band. Although most of this article will not focus on the singer’s work with Chicago, this forms a necessary context in explaining Cetera’s success as a solo artist after leaving the band, given that it was the band’s 1980’s material, the big ballads and personal drama, that would inform much of Cetera’s work, rather than the heavier jazz influences of Chicago’s early band history. Cetera’s music forms much of the soundtrack of the 1980’s, something I think is a good thing even if many people disagree, including quite a few of the voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame , and his success in the face of immense label indifference and not particularly great promotion of his music in large part because of his ability to have successful duets and soundtrack numbers is worthy of recognition and honor, whatever one feels about 80’s soft rock.
The Influence Of Peter Cetera
There might be some who would think of Peter Cetera’s influence as a bad one, but it is difficult to avoid the understanding that he had a major influence on the course of music, both with his own work (and especially his collaborations) and as something to react to. Cetera’s music represents a particularly strong brand of adult contemporary and adult-oriented radio, the sort of music that played continually on the radio as I was growing up. He collaborated extremely well with other artists, helping Cher  with one of her comebacks, giving Amy Grant  her first number one hit and giving her enough help to establish within the next few years a strong career of her own as a pop and adult contemporary artist in her own right, and having a slew of soundtrack hits during a stretch where he released at least four albums that have reached gold and that have made him, even now, well-remembered for his songs and singing, as well as his distinctive voice.
Why Peter Cetera Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Peter Cetera’s main claim to fame as far as being deserving of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, as he is already enshrined as a member of Chicago, is the way in which his career demonstrates the importance of strong duets, soundtrack pop, and his dominance of adult contemporary radio during the 1980’s up to the mid 1990’s. This is not to say that his pop success on the Billboard Hot 100 is inconsiderable–two #1 hits, three additional top ten hits, two more top 40 hits, and a spot on 1991’s hit “Voices That Care”–but it is his success on the adult contemporary chart is even more notable, where he had 5 #1 hits, 2 #2 hits, three additional top 10 hits, and thirteen more top 40 hits on top of that. He had enough great duets and soundtrack songs to fill an entire album “You’re The Inspiration,” which went gold on an independent label, including “Glory Of Love” from Karate Kid, Part II, “After All,” a duet with Cher, and “I Wasn’t The One (Who Said Goodbye)” with a post-Abba Agnetha Faltskog, as well as the gorgeous “Feels Like Heaven” with Chaka Khan and the sweet “I Wanna Take Forever Tonight” with Crystal Bernard. Even “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” was a successful R&B and pop crossover duet with Az Yet. His songs like “Next Time I Fall In Love” with Amy Grant, and “Restless Heart” and “Even A Fool Can See” were played continually when I was growing up on the local Adult Contemporary stations. His albums were popular as well–Solitude/Solitaire has gone multi-platinum and One More Story, World Falling Down, and You’re The Inspiration have all been certified gold . All of this shapes up to one of the more lasting and successful careers in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Why Peter Cetera Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Really, Peter Cetera exists in somewhat of a perfect storm when it comes to not being inducted. For one, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been rather dilatory in inducting acts with their biggest success in adult contemporary radio even when those artists have crossed over with considerable pop success. For another, the pop music of the 1980’s has not received a great deal of lasting critical acclaim, even for those artists who were able to sustain careers over a long time. For another, the lengthy delay in the induction of Chicago meant that Peter Cetera was unable to get the boost that popular solo artists from inducted bands have tended to receive, at least not yet.
Verdict: This might take a while, but given that Peter Cetera has already been inducted once, it would likely be easier for him to be inducted a second time with his worthy career.
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