Early Chicago- Peter Cetera

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Ross McLochness, May 16, 2019.

  1. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Excellent Post!!

    At age 11, unable to convince his parents to buy him a guitar, he instead was given accordion lessons. A few years later, some older friends took him to a teenage nightclub outside of town. He recalls, “I walked in and a band called the Rebel Rockers was playing. I remember the guitarist and bass player were standing on their amps, rocking back and forth. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen—I was hooked.” As a 15-year-old high school sophomore, Cetera got a Montgomery Ward acoustic guitar and learned some open chords. Upon meeting and jamming with a guitar-playing senior who wanted to form a band, Peter moved over to bass, buying a Danelectro Short Horn. Cetera stayed the course, moving on to better Top 40 bands and hitting the club and concert trail all over the Midwest . “By the time I was 18,” he admits, “I was making more money than my dad.”

    When David Foster was brought in to produce our first album for Warner Bros. [ Chicago 16], that really took bass out of the equation. He and I clicked immediately and started writing together, but the sound of pop music had changed. David was not only the best keyboard player I’d ever heard in my life, he was the best drum programmer and the best synth bass player. I would go to pick up my bass and then hear him play a killer Moog groove and I’d literally put the bass away in its case. It just didn’t fit the music at that point. I also began to feel that during my time with the band, because I hadn’t been able to fully focus on either singing or bass playing, both had suffered. So, when I went solo soon after, I decided to concentrate entirely on singing and being a frontman.

    Peter Cetera began his Chicago career with his ’64 Fender Precision (featuring a rosewood fingerboard and custom Paisley-painted body). Though he tried numerous other basses—including a Gibson EB-3, Rickenbacker 4001, Gibson Ripper, and fretted and fretless Fender Jazz Basses—it was the P-Bass he kept returning to. He began with La Bella flatwounds but moved on to roundwounds, never quite liking them as much as the flats. His live amp choices were more transient, including Kustom, Acoustic, Sound City , Phase Linear, Orange , and Ampeg rigs. In the studio, Cetera generally recorded his P-Basses (he used producer James Guercio’s Precision on the first album) both direct and through an Ampeg B-15, at times with tissues stuffed under the strings for a bit of damping. Cetera’s bass was always prominent in the mix, perhaps in part because Guercio was a bassist.

    Currently, Peter’s bass collection features his ’64 P-Bass (now white), a Lake Placid Blue ’65 Jazz Bass, his ’64 Hofner Beatle Bass, a ’65 Vox Constellation IV bass, and a Tune Bass Maniac. Most are strung with La Bella flatwounds. He borrowed Nashville session ace Mike Brignardello’s P-Bass to record the track on his Christmas CD, and he’s expecting his McPherson acoustic bass guitar in time for his December tour. His picks are Fender mediums.
    Dr. Cheese and B-Mac like this.
  2. Ross McLochness

    Ross McLochness Living Room Bassist Extraordinaire Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2013
    Eden Prairie, MN
    Wow. I was born in 69 so I missed seeing all my heroes live in their prime.
  3. Yikes!
  4. It’s not my outward intent to perpetuate the hijacking of this thread to highlight Leonid and Friends, but I’ve watched this six times in a row now. Just sayin’.
    denton57 and IamGroot like this.
  5. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    No kidding. I watched it 3 times today. So spot on.
    Jimruth likes this.
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis

    Here is some early CTA. This clip is full youth, energy, and talent.
    B-Mac, JimK, DWBass and 2 others like this.
  7. Ross McLochness

    Ross McLochness Living Room Bassist Extraordinaire Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2013
    Eden Prairie, MN
    Agreed. The bass line in You've Made Me So Very Happy is one of my favorite bass songs.
    I'm a sucker for the bouncy syncopated types of lines (i.e. the ones I couldn't come up with in a million years) :)
    JimK likes this.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    In the '60s, Chicago were trend setters...by the '80s, trend followers. There's a reason that stuff sounds so dated...and lame.

    Disclaimer: No, I have no million-dollar sellers.

    FWIW, it's not just me. Read up on the other Foster-ized '80s bands (AWB, The Tubes, et al).
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  9. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    The bass tone that they’re getting in these studio recordings is amazing. The mixes are equally amazing. It shows Leonid and his peers really know their stuff!!!
  10. s0707


    Jun 17, 2015
    In that interview Cetera mentions a concert in Japan as an example how they were more than anything a live band (rather than a studio band). The record of Chicago making tour stops in small towns (McAllen TX, for example) jives with that. It always amazed me they would do that. Anyway, this Japan concert shows how good a live band they were

    JimK likes this.
  11. mrwood4

    mrwood4 Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2014
    Southern Illinois
    I just saw them this past tuesday. Keith Howland is still with them. The new bassist is Brett Simons
    20190521_212946.jpg 20190521_212946.jpg 20190521_204941.jpg
    JPaulGeddy likes this.
  12. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    I stopped listening to them after Chicago 10. In fact I was 16 when I first saw them at the Spectrum in Philly which was for that album. They really changed after Terry Kath died. They should have hung it up or called themselves something else.

    Chicago I, II, III and V are my favorites.

    Peter Cetera picking bass on those first few notes of their version of I'm a Man'....gotta love it! :)
    ...and on Dialogue Part II
  13. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    I saw Peter Cetera in York, PA playing with the York Pops Orchestra and members of Manheim Steam Roller a few years ago (8 years ago?)....His voice was still amazing. The show was amazing too. It wasn't Chicago, but it was first rate musicianship! He played bass or appeared to play bass for a short version of 'I'm a Man' as part of the encore. I only say 'appeared to' because the bassist in the core band was still playing bass. I Think it was just to make us old 'codgers' happy. :) He only sang for the entire rest of the concert

    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    JimK likes this.
  14. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Pick Player!!!! Gotta Love it!

    He's included in my Influences!

    Influences: Greg Lake, Chris Squire, Peter Cetera, Paul McCartney, Roger Glover, Dave Hope

    What do they all have in common? Hmmm?
  15. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Terry Kath is on guitar from CTA to Chicago XI
    James William Guercio (producer) plays acoustic guitar on 'If You Leave Me Now' on Chicago X
    Peter Cetera plays Acoustic Guitar on 'Happy Man' on Chicago VII
    Not sure if Peter or James dabble on guitar on Chicago XI. I have it, but never listened to it much just like 'Hot Streets', which is after Terry Kath accidently died from a self inflicted GSW.
    Chicago VII is a double album which has hits that feature Peter Cetera on vocals...'Searching So Long', 'Call On Me' and 'Wishing You Were Here' (not the Pink Floyd song).
    But side one of the double album is killer. Some fine 'jazz horn fusion' and Danny Seraphine plays an awesome drum solo on 'Devil's Sweet' which most casual radio listening fans of Chicago know nothing about. Worth checking out.

    Around the same time they had a television special called 'Meanwhile Back at the Ranch' which tells you how popular they had gotten when Chicago VII came out.

    Looks like Pete is paying a Gibson EB-3 or EB-3L?
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    JimK likes this.
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I can see why he put down the bass and concentrated on vocals, I cannot judge because I never had talent or opportunities anything like those of Peter Cetera.
    B-Mac likes this.
  17. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    The singing voice is one of the most precious instruments there is....and god given too.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Dude has four octaves to boot!
    B-Mac likes this.
  19. Richie Se7en

    Richie Se7en Presently distractivated Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2015
    Shadow of South Philly

    I totally agree with you on this. There's no doubt of Foster's talent, but it feels like a cookie-cutter method geared to commercial success, which I guess is what some strive for. When he got his fingers into Earth, Wind and Fire it just about broke my heart.

    burk48237 and JimK like this.
  20. morrisonhendrix

    morrisonhendrix When the music's over, turn out the lights... Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2009
    near Dallas, Texas

    While I like the old stuff and the Foster stuff, that later era should've been called David Foster with Chicago, or Chicago with David Foster, or Chicago sings David Foster, etc.
    Richie Se7en and Jimruth like this.
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