Apparently, I’ve been in a hole since the third week of October, because I just found out at the beginning of November that Chicago lead vocalist (well, one of them) Jason Scheff, who has been with the group since the post-Cetera years beginning in 1985, officially left the group as of October 25, 2016. Scheff’s vocals matched Peter Cetera’s, and it was easy to see him slipping right into Cetera’s songs. Upon joining the group in 1985, Scheff was 23 years old, and his first test was the remake of “25 or 6 to 4,” which by the way, is amazing live.
Uploaded by Chilo Franco
Also amazing? That hair!
Scheff’s first really big test (after “25 or 6 to 4”) was the breakup song “Will You Still Love Me?”, and it was a successful transition into the sound that Chicago would take into the latter half of the 1980s. Sure there were still trumpets, but a smoother 1980s rock had come to call, and while Cetera wasn’t willing to answer to that, Scheff proved to be able to.
I was lucky to see Scheff perform in the concert I went to last year (you know, the one I’m still talking about a year later?), and finding out that he left the group after 31 years makes me a little nostalgic. And why shouldn’t it? He proved to not only fit into the stylings of the group, he helped set the standard by which Chicago managed to re-invent and progress, while remaining timeless and incredible.
I wish him well, he was a blast to listen to!
In 1993, Chicago recorded their 21st album, set to be released on March 22, 1994 as Stone of Sisyphus. However, their label at the time rejected the album and it went unreleased until 2008. That’s fourteen years and ten more albums before this “lost” album was finally given its day.
One of the songs that has stuck out to me the most is the song “Bigger Than Elvis,” which was written and performed by Jason Scheff. It served as a tribute to his father, Jerry Scheff, who was a bassist for Elvis Presley’s band. Scheff wrote the song about his childhood fascination with watching his father perform, believing he was the real star. His dad was even invited to record the bass in the song (the band told him that Jason was unavailable), and his dad did, but had no idea this song was a tribute for him.
I have to admit, they even play guitar similarly…
It’s a heck of a tribute, and you can click play to hear him sing this loving tribute to the real star of the show.
Uploaded by Jonn Hiedler
The real shame is we didn’t get to hear this sooner.
Thanks for your commitment and contribution to Chicago for over thirty years! You will be missed!
Allison will never claim to be “bigger than Elvis,” but she will tell you her blog, Allison’s Written Words, strives to be bigger than…something obscure. She’d love for you to check it out, follow it on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
Chicago proves to be fertile ground in her Retroist life: