HAPPY 79th birthday to one of CHICAGO’s lead singers, Peter Cetera (born Sept. 13, 1944). He is an original member of the band but left in the mid-1980s to launch a successful solo career. Cetera scored six top 40 singles on his own including two songs that reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Chicago’s hey debut album, “Chicago Transit Authority,” brought the band to superstar status. “Chicago II” was released the following year featuring the track “25 or 6 to 4,” the group’s first top 10 hit single with Cetera on lead vocals. The album also featured Peter’s first songwriting effort, “Where Do We Go From Here?”, which also was used as the B-side for the “25 or 6 to 4” single.

As the 1970s progressed, Cetera became a more prolific songwriter for the group, contributing such hits as “Wishing You Were Here,” “If You Leave Me Now” (the band’s first No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit and their first Platinum-selling single) and “Baby, What A Big Surprise.”

By the end of the decade — with the rise of disco music — Chicago’s popularity declined, as the band’s next release, 1980’s “Chicago XIV”, became their poorest-selling album (it only reached as high as No. 71 on the pop charts.) Subsequently, Columbia Records bought out the remainder of Chicago’s contract, and the band moved over to a new label, Full Moon Records distributed by Warner Bros.

While still a member of Chicago, Cetera released his first solo album in 1981, the self-titled “Peter Cetera” project. The Warner Bros. label distributed the record after Peter personally bought the rights from Columbia, who had refused to release his solo project on their label. The album stiffed at No. 143, and the two singles released from it failed to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100 survey.

Five years later after Cetera had officially quit Chicago, his second solo album “Solitude/Solitaire” struck gold (actually platinum, as it was a million seller!) The album’s single, “Glory of Love” — the theme song from the 1986 film “The Karate Kid, Part II” — was a No. 1 hit.

The song went on to win an ASCAP Award for “Most Performed Song from a Motion Picture” and a BMI Film and TV Award for “Most Performed Song from a Film.” Also “Glory of Love” was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe award in the “Best Original Song“categories, as well as a Grammy nominee.

Cetera’s second album also produced another No. 1 single, “The Next Time I Fall,” a duet with Christian/Pop artist Amy Grant that was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.” Ironically, “Solitude/Solitaire“ outsold Chicago’s latest album release that year, “Chicago 18,” their first project without Peter which only peaked at No. 35.

Chicago is one of the longest-running and best-selling bands of all time, with more than 100 million records sold worldwide. Their 1969 debut album, “Chicago Transit Authority,” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.

Peter Cetera, along with the original line-up of Chicago — Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and Danny Seraphine — were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Cetera and his Chicago bandmates also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.  [Chuck Halley/photo special]