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Beginnings.

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Another dispatch from the Hog Butcher to the World.

It occurred to me the other day that, as a longtime fan of Chicago’s ’70s records, I ought to take some time during my first visit to the Windy City to make a pilgrimage to Walt Parazaider’s old apartment building.

According to an oft-repeated story, the original members of the band (except for Peter Cetera, who joined a little bit later) gathered in woodwind player Parazaider’s apartment on the North Side of Chicago in February 1967. Sharing a handshake, they agreed to pursue their vision of a jazz-tinged rock band with horns — originally under the name the Missing Links, then as the Big Thing, then as Chicago Transit Authority, and finally as Chicago.

I am just the sort of person to actually try to do something like this. Unfortunately, I’ve never come across a version of the story that states exactly where Parazaider was living at the time.

And unlike Boston, which recently placed a plaque at 1325 Commonwealth Ave. at the site of the first apartment shared by Aerosmith, the city of Chicago does not seem to have placed any public notices at the site of this momentous event. Apparently, eighteen platinum albums are not sufficient to draw the notice of the City that Works.

I note, though, that Parazaider holds a degree in classical clarinet from Chicago’s DePaul University. Since some versions of the story describe his digs as a “student apartment,” I’ll take the liberty of assuming he was still living in the vicinity of the college in 1967.

While riding the Chicago Transit Authority (no, the other Chicago Transit Authority) Red Line train to Wrigley Field the other night, I passed the Fullerton stop. The Fullerton stop backs up to DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, home to the college’s School of Music and, presumably, the general neighborhood where Parazaider was living. (DePaul’s soccer field is immediately adjacent to the train stop and can be seen from the train.)

So, while I can’t say I’ve seen the building where Chicago got started, I’ve probably at least seen the train stop where Robert Lamm, Terry Kath et. al. got off when they began their adventure.

Sure, why not.

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3 responses »

  1. I’m quite sure that Stamford, CT – your mother and my old stomping grounds – refers to itself as the “City That Works”. It’s not windy, tho…

    Reply
  2. If you’re in the Loop, go to Michigan and Congress. Robert Lamm studied music composition at Roosevelt University.

    Most of the band members lived on the far Northwest Side; Kath went to Taft High School (also the model for Rydell High in “Grease”) and Pankow learned jazz at Notre Dame High in suburban Niles. I’ve often thought about putting together a Chicago-related tour of the city, but I don’t think there’s a big market for it.

    Reply

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