Transcript: Transcript Chicago’s Lee Loughnane 56 years at the top and still rolling

00:13 – 00:17] Welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye.
[00:35 – 00:47] Hi, thanks for sharing your time with me today. We’re still in holiday mode here at A Breath of Fresh Air, trying hard to stay off the computer and off the phone for a bit of a digital detox.
[00:48 – 01:01] I have to say it’s not working out quite as well as I’d hoped. I admit I’m addicted. I hope you’re faring better. Time now to introduce you to my special guest for the third of our five holiday
[01:01 – 01:13] specials. He’s been on the road consistently with his band for 56 years straight, only taking a break during the pandemic. With sales of more than 100 million
[01:13 – 01:21] records and counting, 21 top 10 singles and 11 number ones, the band Chicago is hailed as one
[01:21 – 01:28] of the most important bands in music since the dawn of the rock and roll era. They’re the highest
[01:28 – 01:35] charting American band in Billboard’s top 125 artists of all time and the first American
[01:35 – 01:42] rock band to chart top 40 albums in six consecutive decades. Say hi to founding
[01:42 – 01:55] member Lee Loughnane, who’s just completed yet another tour. Hello. Hello. Thank you so much for joining me. How’s the tour been going? It’s been going great. We’ve had a great time,
[01:55 – 02:05] been getting great audiences. We’ve been previewing up until it came out and now our single named If This Is Goodbye.
[02:05 – 02:11] If This Is Goodbye is number 16 on the AC charts and I just found out that the album is number five.
[02:14 – 02:25] Just a bunch of crazy kids. Look at all the things we did. Never thought it’d end like this. Oh, wake up.
[02:25 – 02:35] Playing in the high school band. Never really had a plan. Made it to the promised land. So here’s a toast.
[02:35 – 02:45] To me and you and every single joy. To living fast but always dancing slow.
[02:47 – 02:55] To saying yes whenever I said no. If this is goodbye.
[02:56 – 03:06] Let’s take one more shot for the memories. Life’s too short to be an illusion. If this is goodbye. If this is tonight.
[03:08 – 03:20] You can say good cheers for the other guys. I’ll see you in another life. I want to talk to you about all that new music. You guys just have been on fire for such a long
[03:20 – 03:31] time. You can’t put a foot wrong. You know what? We have been on the road every year for 55 years, including the year that everyone was off for the pandemic. How did you manage that?
[03:32 – 03:42] We worked early in February in 2020. Our last show was in Las Vegas. And then as we were about to travel to California to continue the tour, the world
[03:42 – 03:54] shut down, and didn’t open up again for 15 months. So that was still a year later at the end of 2021. So we still work every year. You snuck it in.
[03:57 – 04:07] That’s, that’s awesome. 55 Years. Aren’t you sick of it now? I love playing. I love playing the trumpet. I love practicing the trumpet. and I love playing for people.
[04:07 – 04:19] And as a band, we all enjoy the same thing, playing for live audiences. And live audiences can’t get enough of you. They can’t get enough of you on stage. They can’t get enough of you on record either.
[04:20 – 04:31] When did music first come into your life? Well, it entered my life when I was just figuring out what the English language was. You know, I mean, that’s when music comes in.
[04:31 – 04:42] And my dad was a trumpet player when he was young. And I never heard him play because he had stopped after he got out of the service. He never touched his horn again.
[04:42 – 04:54] But he had all of the big band records from the 40s, 30s, and 40s. And I used to listen to those all the time. And that’s what got me started. When I started playing trumpet, I started playing along with those records.
[04:54 – 05:00] Glenn Gray and Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, Tommy and Jimmy.
[05:08 – 05:17] Your love of playing the trumpet started at such an early age, didn’t it? Well, 11, if that’s really early, I guess that’s pretty early.
[05:18 – 05:29] And yeah, my dad asked me if I wanted to play an instrument. And at the time, I think he was just wanting me to be more of a well-rounded human being. You know, so put a little music in there.
[05:30 – 05:42] It was only a couple of years that I decided that I wanted to do it for a living, for a profession. And I think that’s what got me started. And when I did that, ironically, my dad tried to talk me out of it because it would be so
[05:42 – 05:50] difficult for me to make it. You know, how many people realistically can make it in show business? And I just never looked back.
[05:51 – 06:01] When I told him I wanted to be a professional musician, he started trying to talk me out of it and told me that he didn’t think that there was any future in that.
[06:01 – 06:14] So 55 years is doing pretty good. And before he… Before he passed, he understood that we were pretty well established and didn’t even go anywhere. So did it make you a more well-rounded human being? Was he right?
[06:15 – 06:27] I don’t know. You have to ask my ex-wives. I’m not sure they would agree. No, if they’re ex-wives, they probably wouldn’t. Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. My kids are on my side, though. Yeah, well, they didn’t have…
[06:27 – 06:35] Well, I suppose they did have to put up with you being away on the road all the time, too, didn’t they? Oh, yeah. Yeah, for sure. Did they handle it better than the wives?
[06:35 – 06:43] I think maybe as they were growing up and I was gone, not so much because they were there with mom.
[06:43 – 06:56] But as they saw the documentary, the 50-year anniversary documentary, they started understanding what it is that I’ve been doing all my life. And they had more compassion for me.
[06:58 – 07:04] And because they see that if you really enjoy doing something, you have to make sacrifices.
[07:05 – 07:14] In order to pull it off, for you to be happy, and hopefully everyone else can be happy as well. Because I would try to bring them out on the road with me.
[07:14 – 07:27] They came out when they were young until they decided that they were too big to come out with me and wanted to hang around with their friends. So then we were separated a lot more often.
[07:27 – 07:37] Right. Right. So it doesn’t matter what the profession is. There comes a time when the kids don’t want to be with their parents no matter what. Right. Exactly right. That’s amazing.
[07:38 – 07:45] You started with the band in 1967. And it was really special from the outset, wasn’t it? It was.
[07:45 – 07:55] The most special thing was that we enjoyed playing music together, all of us. And that it remained together.
[07:55 – 08:08] Everyone had feelings toward music, that we wanted to move further with it. We didn’t want to rest on our laurels. And back then, we didn’t. We didn’t have lots of laurels. Too many to stand on.
[08:09 – 08:19] Yeah, we were playing clubs and stuff. So when we had a chance to record our first album, which became Chicago Authority, we
[08:19 – 08:27] were still all of the same mindset that this is the only thing we want to do. And we were moving straight ahead no matter what.
[08:27 – 08:38] I guess it does help to have like-minded souls with you and everybody is ambitious as the next. And it’s very difficult. It’s difficult to find that many people to be that like-minded.
[08:47 – 09:08] Waiting for the break of day
[09:12 – 09:14] Searching for something to say
[09:24 – 09:34] Giving up, I close my eyes Sitting cross-legged on the floor
[09:38 – 09:40] 25 or 6 to 4
[09:57 – 10:10] Staring blindly That very first album that you had, Chicago Transit Authority, it was huge. And every album of yours has been huge.
[10:10 – 10:22] But that was the one that really broke through for you with, of course, Peter Cetera on vocals and bass. There’s a couple of things about that that I want to bring to your attention. And that is that 55 years later,
[10:22 – 10:33] three of the original songs, six members, that was before Cetera joined the band, we only had six guys when we started playing the clubs. We’re still playing now, every night. That’s amazing.
[10:33 – 10:43] Myself, Jimmy Panko and Robert Lamb. So to understand that half the band is still with us 55 years later, I have to pinch myself
[10:43 – 10:54] when I remember that. You’ve had lots of incarnations across time. Obviously over 55 years. And you’ve lost members of the band too.
[10:55 – 11:05] Many die-hard Chicago fans will remember that guitarist and singer-songwriter Terry Kath, who founded the band, accidentally killed himself in a mishap
[11:05 – 11:17] after a party at the age of 31 back in 1978. Terry used to play guitar and sing lead vocals on many of Chicago’s early hit singles. Liam, what was Terry like?
[11:18 – 11:30] Well, the remaining four members that were with the band when Terry was with us remember that he was a member of the band. He was sort of the leader. He would start off with a sort of a cha-chum, cha-chum, cha-chum, cha-chum,
[11:30 – 11:42] getting the rhythm together. And then he would, once he got that tempo in his head, then he would count off the song and then we’d start. And at various times during solo portions of the song,
[11:42 – 11:55] he would sort of construct how the solo was going. He would be listening to the soloist and see, you know, when it reached its peak, and then sort of get to the end. And then he’d give a whistle, his high-pitched whistle, that would go,
[11:55 – 12:02] over the top of the band. It was uncanny how he could do that. And then we’d have like four bars and come in with the next part of the song, go back to the bridge or whatever.
[12:03 – 12:15] And the documentary is from our beginnings right up to, I think, like the 47th year. Terry gets mentioned quite a bit, especially in the early years.
[12:15 – 12:25] And, you know, when he left and moved to the other side where we can’t see him anymore, we had no idea how deep the bench was, pretty much, with our group.
[12:25 – 12:29] And we have found out subsequently that we can make it.
[13:05 – 13:12] I don’t know. I just want you to stay.
[13:17 – 13:23] It’s hard to find.
[13:26 – 13:30] How could we let it slip away?
[13:36 – 13:49] We’ve come too far to leave it all behind. We’ve come too far to leave it all behind.
[14:03 – 14:12] All of the changes that we have made through the years have only helped the band get better at a point where it needed it. It needed a little boost forward.
[14:12 – 14:22] And all of these guys come in with their history of listening to our music as they were growing up. And then they’re able to add their personality to those songs.
[14:22 – 14:34] And you were responsible for bringing the brass section into the band. And, of course, brass makes such a huge difference to a band. You were hailed as being one of the most important bands in music
[14:34 – 14:41] since the dawn of the rock and roll era. And in part, that’s because you brought brass into it. Yeah.
[14:41 – 14:54] Well, the brass became more of an integral part of the songs with us, whereas everyone else were using the brass as more of accent parts
[14:54 – 15:05] and percussive type parts. But we were bringing it in as a melodic part. We were bringing it in as an instrument, I guess. And it was as important as the vocals.
[15:05 – 15:15] And we would weave the brass in and out between vocals. The vocals would sing some and we’d play some lines behind it. And then we’d get our own time to come out and shine.
[15:15 – 15:27] So in that way, yes, I guess we changed a few things. We had a different way of looking at music. Was that your doing? Jimmy Pankow started writing the brass. I have written some through the years.
[15:27 – 15:32] And I have one brass arrangement on the new album, if this isn’t love.
[15:32 – 15:45] The sun’s shining bright
[15:47 – 15:57] Brighter than yesterday The storm clouds above me Have flown away
[16:00 – 16:11] Bluebirds sing their morning song Hit me while they sing along The day’s lifting me up so high
[16:11 – 16:24] I can touch the sky If this isn’t love It’s the best place I’ve ever been
[16:25 – 16:33] If this is a rhyme I’d rather be wrong again
[16:34 – 16:46] I’d rather be wrong again I stood by myself
[16:47 – 16:58] Till your heart opened up my door What was I looking for?
[17:00 – 17:13] Also, that is the only song on the album that was actually recorded by the band as a rhythm section. When I said we had our time when we got back on the road in 2021,
[17:13 – 17:25] we came early to the show one day, and I handed out the charts for If This Isn’t Love, and the band played through it a few times. And then we had a basic track for the song,
[17:25 – 17:36] took it back to my studio in Arizona, and did the overdubs, and sent the song to Canada for Neil Donnell to sing it.
[17:36 – 17:49] So he sent that back, and we had a lead vocal. And then we recorded the brass at my studio and sent everything to Joe Thomas, the producer, and he mixed it all together. And it’s turned out magic.
[17:50 – 17:59] It has turned out very nice, very nice. Lee Loughnane there, and we’ll be back in a moment to hear him reflect further on the history of the group.
[18:00 – 18:11] This is A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day Welcome back. With more than 100 million albums sold worldwide,
[18:11 – 18:22] in addition to being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the multi-Grammy Award-winning band Chicago has been hailed as one of the most important bands in music
[18:22 – 18:31] since the dawn of the rock and roll era. The band’s founder, trumpet player and vocalist, Lee Loughnane, is my special guest today
[18:31 – 18:42] and shares some of his thoughts about the band’s 55-year-long journey. Lee, what difference does brass make to a sound? It seems to me that when the brass start playing,
[18:42 – 18:54] everybody’s ears prick up. It just… It just adds a whole new dimension to the sound, doesn’t it? Well, we hope that it will, that’s for sure, because we wouldn’t still be doing it if people didn’t
[18:54 – 19:03] sort of prick up their ears and go, hey, that sounds a little bit different. Or at least they like it. You know, I mean, when a songwriter writes a song,
[19:03 – 19:16] he hopes that anyone else besides himself likes it as much as he does. So for us to have as many songs as we do that, you know, different generations of people are enjoying it,
[19:16 – 19:25] it’s really an honour for us to be able to play it for them. Has the style changed over the years? Yeah. You know, you’ve heard the style,
[19:25 – 19:34] and we’ve outlasted a lot of the styles that have come and gone in hundreds. I mean, when I look back at some of the names of the bands
[19:34 – 19:45] that were really big through, you know, 50 years of time, it’s astounding to me that we’re able to withstand all of that. And still be here today.
[19:45 – 19:57] I’m enjoying the hell out of it, I’ve got to tell you. I bet you are. Very fortunate. As I was walking down the street one day
[19:59 – 20:10] A man came up to me and asked me What the time was that was on my watch Yeah
[20:11 – 20:23] I said Yeah Does anybody really know what time it is Does anybody really care
[20:23 – 20:31] About time So I can’t imagine why Though I’ve got time enough to cry
[20:33 – 20:45] I was walking down the street one day A pretty lady looked at me and said
[20:45 – 20:53] Well, I’ve got a diamond watch And it stopped cold dead And I said
[20:55 – 21:05] Does anybody really know what time it is Does anybody really care About time
[21:05 – 21:18] And so I can’t imagine why Though I’ve got time enough to cry Has Chicago’s style had to change with the times? It appears that from that first album
[21:18 – 21:29] To this, what is now the 38th album There’s not too much difference. Yeah, I think we have always looked at music as Wanting to be different from one song to the next
[21:29 – 21:39] And not try to repeat ourselves over and over again And I think that has kept us musically involved And excited
[21:39 – 21:51] And apparently, you know, the audiences Enjoy the same type of music You know, change your pace from one song to the next I know that it’s great for us on stage
[21:51 – 22:03] Because you don’t get tired of what’s coming next The arrangements are always interesting And not easy to play So you have to keep practicing just to stay up You know, to keep up with everybody else
[22:03 – 22:12] Really? You keep practicing all the time? Oh, yeah I was practicing before we started the interview Practicing doing an interview or practicing music?
[22:13 – 22:24] Well, the interviews, you sort of practice on the job Tell me about it Absolutely From that very first album where you had the biggest hits
[22:24 – 22:34] I don’t know if they were They probably weren’t even bigger than what they are today It was just that they were the formative ones, weren’t they?
[22:34 – 22:45] Well, interestingly enough, the first album was an underground success We were very popular in America And as it turns out, we were even more popular in Europe
[22:46 – 22:56] But AM radio in America was not playing the songs They weren’t playing the songs that we were releasing the singles And they told us that was because we hadn’t had a hit yet
[22:56 – 23:05] And of course, you know, you say, well, how are we going to have a hit if you don’t play it? It’s sort of catch 22 there Yeah And then so we waited
[23:06 – 23:15] We were lucky enough to record a second album And Jimmy Pankow wrote a long 14 minute piece called The Ballet for a Girl in the Cannon
[23:15 – 23:28] And radio became interested in portions of that Make Me Smile is the beginning section of the piece And then at the end, it’s a reprise of Make Me Smile
[24:32 – 24:38] There goes the grand opening Oh, boy
[25:01 – 25:11] They cut everything else out Of the, you know, the ten minutes in between and did like three minutes of Make Me Smile. That became our first hit.
[25:11 – 25:19] And another interesting fact is that the songs that we had originally released from the first album, we went back and re-released.
[25:20 – 25:30] Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Beginnings, Question 67, 68, and I think we released I’m a Man as a single as well.
[26:17 – 26:29] The critics, for some reason, who were saying that we were underground and ahead of our time, oh my God, these guys are really good musicians
[26:29 – 26:36] and all that stuff, they said once the songs became hits that we had sold out. We hadn’t changed a note. Exactly the same songs.
[26:38 – 26:50] So we realized pretty early on, thank goodness, that these probably aren’t the people that we should be listening to. We should just enjoy ourselves, enjoy what we’re doing, and keep moving forward.
[26:50 – 27:01] Yeah, wise decision, I’d say. Did radio have to cut down the other songs to that three-minute timing too? Oh, yeah. The only people that were getting longer songs were the Beatles at the time.
[27:01 – 27:12] I think that la-la-la-la-la-la-la went on for about 10 minutes. Yeah, which was completely unusual at the time. That’s right. Oh, yeah. So how did you react to that?
[27:12 – 27:20] Were you happy to get the airplay because that was all important at that time? Right. And by them editing that song down,
[27:20 – 27:32] we also realized that being played on the radio was an actual advertisement for the band. That’s how you got the ads out and people knowing that you’re in the business at all.
[27:32 – 27:45] Yeah, so you couldn’t be without radio airplay. Nobody could make it in those days. Nobody could. And then you have to go out and play for people. They’re not going to be coming to your house anytime soon. Oh, damn. I was hoping for an invite.
[27:46 – 27:59] We have dinner. Come on in. Yeah. Lee Knockman, did you have a favorite song from those very early days that was your personal favorite? Not really because, you know, like I said,
[27:59 – 28:10] the arrangements are pretty difficult, interesting, and I like the melodies. I like everything about them. But I usually say beginnings if I pick a song
[28:10 – 28:18] because I’ve always liked playing beginnings. So that’s probably my favorite. When I’m with you.
[28:20 – 28:30] It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing. I’m with you.
[28:30 – 28:39] That’s our bus is much too that way
[28:40 – 28:51] when we’re together laughing. Hey, I wish I could sing it to you. Whoa, whoa, I wish I could sing it to you.
[29:11 – 29:23] You don’t get sick of playing those old hits? No, no. They go over every night. People want to hear them. You can, as soon as we start the intro, you can hear the reaction and, you know,
[29:23 – 29:34] the people remembering back to where they were the first time they heard it. And then from there, it’s up to us to make it sound as good as they want to hear it. It’s a funny thing with music, isn’t it,
[29:34 – 29:44] that it takes people right back to where they were when they first heard it, and they hold those memories so precious. So I would imagine that coming to your live shows these days
[29:44 – 29:57] would be those people who were there at the time of our age and, of course, a whole new generation that are just discovering Chicago for the first time. There are quite a few generations from 10 years old.
[29:57 – 30:07] Last night, we played in Chicago, and there was people from 10 years old to 70 years old. It’s amazing the amount of people,
[30:08 – 30:20] and all of them are singing the songs and the lyrics. And especially when I see the young ones who weren’t obviously even born or even thought of still, you know,
[30:20 – 30:29] singing our lyrics and loving the music. It’s an honor to be able to continue to play for them. Well, Chicago is your hometown,
[30:29 – 30:42] and you would expect the hugest reaction there. Yes, that’s true. In fact, I… I believe that Elmwood Park dedicated a road to you called Lee Lockname Way, which is right near your childhood home, yeah?
[30:42 – 30:54] I think my sister was a little bit involved in that one too. Oh, she did? That’s awesome. Oh, yeah, she’s still living on the same street. Oh, she must be so proud of you. That’s so wonderful.
[30:55 – 31:07] So 38 albums later, you’ve got this one born for this moment, and the single that’s This Is Goodbye has just come out recently. Mm-hmm. Tell me a little bit more about this new album,
[31:07 – 31:18] Born for This Moment. Well, you know, as we were talking, we were talking about the differences in music and set in our ways to do just one style.
[31:19 – 31:27] This album follows along in that there’s, you know, ballads, up-tempo tunes, Latin, Brazilian.
[31:28 – 31:37] There’s all kinds of flavors of music and tempos, and I think… When you listen to it all the way through, I think you’ll enjoy it.
[31:38 – 31:50] Your love is all I need Sweet music heart to heart Every day I breathe With just one look
[31:50 – 32:03] You set me free From all the emptiness inside of me Now that I’ve found you I can’t let you go No, no
[32:03 – 32:08] Let’s just go on Just one word that fits you head to toe, baby
[32:11 – 32:34] Foxy little heart attack won’t do, baby
[32:43 – 32:52] Firecracker from the latest album, Born for This Moment. I’m surprised that we were able to complete it because that was done in a lockdown.
[32:52 – 33:05] We were not actually able to go fly to each other, get into a studio in the same room together and work like we normally would have. Yeah. So… So… It was more of a songwriter’s album
[33:05 – 33:16] where they presented the song that they had envisioned with their demo, I guess, and then built the song from there, just gradually one, you know, sending it to one house at a time
[33:16 – 33:29] and then put their part on it and send it back. Wow, that’s an incredible feat, really, isn’t it? Because you’re a huge band. It’s different if there’s three or four or maybe even five in the band, but with so many, and it worked out so well.
[33:29 – 33:42] It is amazing to me because… Subsequently, I’ve been able to do a lot of things. We went to filling out the chord more by playing different notes. We would invert the chord on the double and that changed the sound again.
[33:42 – 33:55] And then beyond that, we started putting, especially for the ballads, we would make it even warmer with a left and right and then a center. It got really full. When you play live, if you overdub,
[33:55 – 34:06] especially three times, you have to, in order to make it sound the same or very similar live, you have to pick exactly the right note. And then you have to pick the right notes for that chord to sound something like it did on the record.
[34:07 – 34:19] Usually, while you were recording a certain part, a guitar part or a vocal, you’re able to sit in the room with the vocalist and add something to it or whatever.
[34:20 – 34:31] And most of the time, they were on their own doing what they felt was the best thing for the song. I guess the writers and the producer decided to agree with them for the most part.
[34:31 – 34:35] They didn’t change very… very much of anything as they sent the files.
[35:35 – 35:46] The song was very well done. It had a little bit of a little bit of a a a a a a a For this moment Now my world has come alive I can feel it When you touch my hand
[35:46 – 35:59] It took patience and time For me to understand The title track, Born For This Moment. Stay tuned to hear more from Lee Loughnane.
[36:00 – 36:11] This is A Breath Of Fresh Air with Sandy Kay. It’s a beautiful day Thanks for hanging in with me. I hope you’re enjoying picking up some insight
[36:11 – 36:21] into the incredible work of the band Chicago. Did you know they were formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1967? They were initially billed as The Big Thing
[36:21 – 36:33] before calling themselves the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968 and then they shortened the name in 1969. Founder Lee Loughnane picks up the story again
[36:33 – 36:43] by telling us how the original members met each other. Well, Terry, Walter, and Danny played in a group called The Missing Links, and I used to go sit in with that band.
[36:44 – 36:56] When that band broke up, and I was a freshman in college then at DePaul University and Walt was going to school there, Jimmy moved in. When The Missing Links broke up, Walt wanted to form another band and
[36:56 – 37:08] the initial impetus was to go to Vegas, a Vegas show band. And Terry and I clicked, we were always together. And in fact, when we first started going on the road,
[37:08 – 37:21] each of us had to share a room with somebody else. And that was when we were staying at Holiday Inns, where you had to go outside to go to somebody else’s room. You know, so no matter what the temperature was, there was no interior hallways.
[37:22 – 37:35] And when we first got together, there was a party room and a sleep room. That’s all we could afford at the time. Lee, what was it like playing with the Bee Gees? Well, we were recording an album in Florida,
[37:35 – 37:45] and they were in the studio at the same time, because that was where they recorded all the time. And they asked us if we wanted to record on, I forget the name of the song.
[37:49 – 37:59] I think I’ve got here that it was Too Much Heaven. Too Much Heaven. That was it. Nobody gets too much heaven, no more.
[38:00 – 38:12] It’s much harder to come, but I’m waiting in line. Nobody gets too much love anymore.
[38:12 – 38:25] It’s as high as the mountain and harder to climb. We recorded that, and then we asked them if they wanted to do some vocals on our song.
[38:25 – 38:35] So they recorded on Little Miss Lovin’, I think it was. That was a lot of fun. You could see the perfection that they tried to achieve on their record.
[38:35 – 38:47] And when we were recording, they had a, I don’t know if you know what a strobe tuner is. It’s this huge box about this big, and it has rotating lights.
[38:47 – 39:00] And when you play a note, it’ll stop on a certain note at a pitch. And if it’s flat, it starts going one way. If it’s sharp, it starts going the other way.
[39:00 – 39:12] So they were amazed that we were able to pin those things. The wheels weren’t moving. They weren’t moving at all. And so they were as exacting as we like to be. So lots of synergy between you.
[39:13 – 39:22] Yeah. You can be perfect and musical at the same time. A lot of people think that you get too perfect, it’s less musical. But not so much. Not really.
[39:23 – 39:35] And that’s how you and Robert and James have always been and worked together like that, right? Yes. Yeah. And it’s always worked out. I guess you’d spend more time with each other than you would with your own people. I mean, you’ve got your own families.
[39:36 – 39:39] How do you do that? That is definitely, definitely true.
[39:39 – 39:52] But I think that once we go and are, I guess, at a point where it doesn’t, it’s not going to last forever. I mean, 55 years seems like forever anyway.
[39:52 – 40:03] And we are happy to be able to still be out here. But there is a time where I’m not so sure that we’ll be getting together once we finish the career.
[40:03 – 40:14] Because we’ll have, all of a sudden, we’ll actually have time to spend with our families. And our family, musical family, we won’t be getting together anymore.
[40:14 – 40:26] But I appreciate all the time that we have had. Can you see that time coming anytime soon? You know, not so far. Our manager, Peter Chivarelli, is booking gigs for next year already.
[40:27 – 40:39] And you’re still happy to be on the road? It’s not any more taxing than it used to be? It is. It is probably more taxing. And travel has always been the most difficult part of it.
[40:39 – 40:51] And that remains a constant. It’s hard. But we put up with that to play the shows. You know, come to people, play live. We enjoy what we’re doing.
[40:51 – 41:02] Or I don’t think we would be able to because that would show up on stage as well. And everybody feels the same way? There are no dissenters in the group? Unless they haven’t told me something.
[41:02 – 41:13] I believe they’re pretty much the same. You’d have to kind of check in with each other every so often and go, Hey, are you still happy about this? Are you still cool with what we’re doing? Not really. Not really.
[41:13 – 41:23] Because we talk to each other at the shows. And before and after the show. And I don’t remember the last time we felt we had a bad show.
[41:23 – 41:32] I mean, some of the rooms that we play in don’t sound as good as another room. So that affects how we feel about a show.
[41:32 – 41:40] But as far as wanting to go out there and get it right every time, that hasn’t changed from day one.
[41:41 – 41:51] I guess I thought you’d be here forever Another illusion I chose to create
[41:52 – 42:02] You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone And I found out a little too late
[42:02 – 42:11] I was acting as if you were lucky to have me
[42:11 – 42:21] To do a favor like hardly knew you were there Maybe I was strong
[42:22 – 42:34] And I had no idea how much I cared How you Takes a lot of getting used to
[42:34 – 42:45] You should learn to live with it But I don’t make mistakes
[42:46 – 42:50] Instead of getting easier It’s the hardest thing
[43:00 – 43:09] And what about putting your set list together? There are so many tunes to choose from every night. How do you decide that? Do you battle that out? Not really.
[43:09 – 43:22] No, we get together or just talk it out before we come out on the road. And we have an idea of what the set list is going to be. You know, we try to start out on a high note.
[43:22 – 43:34] In fact, this last couple of years we’ve been starting with the first song from the first album, Introduction. Because it pretty much outlines everything that we do within one song within about five,
[43:34 – 43:45] I think it’s five, six minutes. But everything that we do as a band is within that song. And then we move on from there and try to do a cross-section of our entire career.
[43:46 – 43:58] So are there some must-haves in there? Oh, yeah. Yeah, does anybody really know what time it is? Beginnings? 25 or 64? Make Me Smile? Saturday in the Park? Gotta do them every night.
[45:00 – 45:12] Can’t get out of the arena without playing them. No, the audience wouldn’t like that at all, would they? They would ask why we didn’t do it, that’s for sure. And as it is, there are so many hits.
[45:12 – 45:24] We have like 70 hits that charted in the top 40 throughout the years. And there’s inevitably songs that people come up and ask us about, but we can’t do them all.
[45:24 – 45:34] There’s no way we can stay on stage for seven, eight hours. No, I’m sure not. And they wouldn’t want to hang around either. I don’t know about that.
[45:34 – 45:44] What would the number one song, the top song that the audience would want to hear from you be? What would that be? You know, I don’t know. It’s a combination of all of those.
[45:44 – 45:54] If You Leave Me Now would come in there, just you and me, Searching So Long. You know, you’d pick out a lot of the ballads because those were like summer hits.
[45:54 – 46:07] And that brought not only the women in on the hit, helping us make hits, but they would bring their boyfriends along. And the boyfriends would go along with the two just as long as they could be with their girls, right?
[46:09 – 46:18] I think they actually like the music too. Of course they do. In terms of rehearsing, though, there were so many that you’d have to keep up with. How do you manage that?
[46:19 – 46:23] Well, we’ve played them so many times, except for, you know, some of the newer guys.
[46:24 – 46:36] And they actually practice to live performances that we’ve done to get their facility up on the song so that by the time we hit the downbeat, they already know it.
[46:36 – 46:48] And if there’s something that they mess up, they just get that the next night or ask a question. And we move on. And they’re able to put their personalities into the songs that they grew up hearing themselves.
[46:48 – 47:00] And then, you know, playing along with us. And, you know, they’ve actually said that they feel honored to be on the stage with us. You are my love and my life
[47:01 – 47:12] And you are my inspiration Just you and me Simple and free
[47:13 – 47:21] You’re everything I could get
[47:23 – 47:35] Give me your special smile Promise you’ll never leave me Just you and me
[47:36 – 47:47] Simple and free Life is so easy When you’re beside me
[47:48 – 47:59] Oh, baby Come hold me close Never release me Oh, baby, don’t release me
[48:01 – 48:13] Open your arms Let my love in Let me in, let me in Love me tonight, yeah Love me forever
[48:14 – 48:21] We had a chat with one of those young guys that we knew.
[48:21 – 48:31] And he was definitely in that camp of feeling completely honored to be part of Chicago. You’ve had lots of different lineup changes over the years, haven’t you?
[48:31 – 48:44] Have you lost count of how many times the bands changed? There have been changes through the years, but they were always, they always became incessant. Either they changed the mindset and didn’t want to be on the road as much anymore.
[48:44 – 48:53] Or there was another problem that came up that, you know, there was no choice other than to move on to someone else. It’s not always something that we want to do.
[48:53 – 49:05] We would prefer that the band just stay together and we can go night to night performing and having a good time. But it doesn’t always work that way in life. No, nothing kind of works out the way you think it might, will they?
[49:05 – 49:14] Not always, no. No, it certainly didn’t work out the way your dad thought it might. That’s right. But he was quite happy with the result. I bet he was, I’m sure.
[49:14 – 49:18] Sometimes we just have to defy our parents and go with our gut instinct, don’t we?
[49:18 – 49:28] Yeah, if there’s something that you’re doing, whether it be music, podcasts, whatever it is, math even.
[49:28 – 49:36] If you all of a sudden are like feeling hungry, look at you’re watching. No wonder I’m hungry. It’s been eight hours since I started doing it.
[49:36 – 49:48] Do that because inevitably people, at least one, if not many, many people are going to say, you shouldn’t be doing that all day long. Why don’t you know that there are many things that you can do with your life.
[49:48 – 50:01] Yeah, but I’ve chosen this one. My thing is just stay with what you know, enjoy doing because you’ll never be unhappy. You won’t have to feel like you’re going to work. Yeah, that’s right. Absolutely.
[50:01 – 50:11] Have any of your kids followed you into the profession? They have not. They’ve chosen their own paths. And a couple of them sing and perform, but not on a professional basis.
[50:12 – 50:23] I bet as a dad, you’ve endorsed whatever their choices are, given your history. Yeah. I mean, you know, my dad tried to do it. He tried to steer me in one direction and he saw how well that works. I went my own direction.
[50:23 – 50:36] So I pretty much let my kids do whatever they want to do. Lee Lockname from Chicago, I thank you so very much. It’s been such a pleasure to chat with you. I’m really grateful. Thank you. Hopefully we find you back in Australia again very soon.
[50:36 – 50:49] Yeah, it’s been way, way, way too long. It has. Way too long. We haven’t gotten any closer, but we’re still here waiting. I know. I know. That’s one of the problems. But, you know, it’ll work out.
[50:49 – 50:58] Fingers crossed. Thank you, Candid. Thank you so much, Lee. All the very best. If you’d like to know more about Chicago, check out the documentary, Now More Than Ever, The History of Chicago.
[50:59 – 51:11] It’s the story of the band from its inception right through to present day. And as you can imagine, it has some pretty fabulous music running through it. That brings us to the end of this week’s episode.
[51:11 – 51:22] I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Lee Loughnane. I know I did. Never in my wildest dreams would have I expected him to be such a regular guy. So warm and so down to earth.
[51:22 – 51:34] The Countdown continues next week with my number two all-time favorite interview. I hope you’re going to join me to meet Steppenwolf’s John Kay. I was very lucky to get that interview.
[51:34 – 51:47] Tell you more about it next week. See you then. Bye now. Because it’s a beautiful day. Mmm. Mmm. You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kay. Beautiful day.
[51:48 – 51:54] Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away. It’s a beautiful day.