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Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago?

Sure you will. The look may be different, but the sound…it’s still glorious.

1985 ushered in a change for the classic rock band Chicago. Out was lead singer Peter Cetera, amid the desire for a solo career and the wanting of staying the same without consideration of adapting to the times and the changing face of the music scene. He wanted the band to take hiatuses after their tours were over, so he could focus on this solo career. Chicago was against it.

So he left.

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It was that same year that the group brought a new lead singer into their fold, in the form of 23-year-old Jason Scheff. Scheff (born 1962) was a San Diego native (ha, take that consistency, not everyone in the band is from Illinois!) and the oldest son of bassist Jerry Scheff, who toured for several years with Elvis Presley. In 1982, Scheff joined the Los Angeles-based rock band Keane, and during the late 1970s and early 1980s, he played in bands with various members who would go on to form Ratt.

It was Scheff’s ability to closely vocalize former lead vocalist Peter Cetera that allowed him the ability to sing their existing hits. If you’ve seen this group perform any of their past songs where Cetera sang lead vocals, you know exactly what I mean. The young singer debuted with Chicago on their 1986 single “25 or 6 to 4,” which was a remake of their 1970 hit (and one of my favorite Chicago songs). Scheff’s version charted, and the band even got play on MTV because of it. You can read all about Marc Allie’s rousing tribute to it from August 2015 by clicking the song title above. Thanks for your awesome treatment of it, Marc!

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My contribution? Concert photos of that song (with Earth Wind and Fire accompanying)!

Scheff’s treatment and Chicago’s re-arrangement of the song took it from the story of a disgruntled songwriter working through the night to the hard, gritty sound of the year 2036 in Chicago (the city) that Chicago (the band) sang in, if only seen on televisions?around scary-future Chicago (again, the city). It’s both terrifying and fascinating, as only the 1980s could envision the life 50 years later.

But then there was Chicago’s then-current love ballad sound, which Scheff showed on the band’s 1986 single “Will You Still Love Me?”

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You know what the scary part is? I can ID everyone in the band, even though they’re 30 years younger than the version I saw in concert in 2015.

“Will You Still Love Me?” came from Chicago’s 1986 album, Chicago 18, and was the first to feature Scheff’s vocals. It was also the last David Foster-produced album (see Exhibits A, B, and C if you’d like to see my tributes to his glorious work with other artists, or even see one of his great works). As for the single, it charted at Number 3, and was the second song released from the album. It’s also surprisingly absent from their lineup in concert, but considering how long their set is, and how many songs they already do that are wonderful in their own right, I’m not sad this one doesn’t get included. Would I rather hear this than the borefest of “Colour My World”? Yes, yes I would. I’m convinced silence would be better than listening to 1970s wedding staples any day.

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Scheff is in his 50s now (he’ll be 54 this year), but he still sounds as incredible as he did in 1986, when the baby-faced singer took over a group of people at least 10-20 years his senior, and showed the world that this was a band that was still a force to be reckoned with.

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So, while Chicago’s style may have changed, and they weren’t performing with the same glorious sound they were legendary for, it was easy to still love them.

And hopefully I will for the rest of my life.

To think, my brother asked what Chicago had done since Peter Cetera left. Silly him.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor (not really, she’s using a chair), Allison sings along to the hits of Chicago while she works in a room that is not sinking deep nor spinning (not at 25 or 6 to 4, but actually 9 to 5). She can be found extolling her excitement for all things geeky on her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You’d be the inspiration if you followed her blog on Facebook, and it would be hard to say you’re sorry if you didn’t follow her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She can’t go on, no she can’t go on, she can’t go on, if you don’t read what she writes.

Ok, fine, she can, she’s just choosing to regale you with her knowledge of song lyrics and ability to turn them into her bio.

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