Phil Brodie Band Tribute Page
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January 31st 1946 ~ January 23rd 1978
was a lead guitarist in a league with Jimi Hendrix - this according
to no less an authority than Hendrix himself. After hearing the band
in 1968 at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, Hendrix told Chicago saxophone
player Walter Parazaider "Your guitar player is better than me."
Hendrix was so shocked and amazed at his guitar abilities that he took
him and the band on tour as the opening act on his and Janis Joplin's
European tour in 1968. Allegedly, his was also one of the only times
that Hendrix was actually floored by another guitarist. Rock critics,
unfortunately didn't offer the same for Kath. Pop music critics seemed
to rebuke Chicago with regularity during the band's hey days in the
1960s and 1970s.
: Terry Kath
sad because Terry curtainly deserves recognition. He was an integral
part of a an eight piece band. While four-piece rock bands use two guitarists,
Terry held down both rhythm and lead guitar parts by himself. On top
of this, he sang lead vocals on many of the band's songs, and did backing
vocals on most of the others. He also was the band's on-stage front
He did not read music. He played and composed totally by ear. Being
an "untrained" musician in a group of college-trained musicians
was not a handicap. His bandmates were in awe of him.
to right: Denny Horan, drums; Brian Higgins, rhythm guitar; George Slezak, bass
Terry Kath, lead guitar; Mike Pisani, piano.
Chicago is often thought of as a ballad-based soft rock outfit, early on in their
career, the "Kath Era" guitarist/singer Terry Kath brought a much more
rock-based edge to the band. Terry's guitar scales and speed were exceptional,
especially for that time era, and lets not forget he did'nt read music. He was
playing very technicalized scales for that time at incredible speed with a Fender
Stratocaster, a Gibson SG Standard, a Gibson Les Paul Recording and a Fender Telecaster
Custom. Even though Jim Hendrix was good at the time he could not match the speed
and accurately produced scale runs of Terry.
On thier first album Terry's blazing guitar work is featured throughout.
He mixes blues, jazz and rock riffs throughout the double-album set.
Also present are his soulful vocals. Running a Stratocaster and an SG
through a Bogen pre-amp and into a dual showman, Terry produced an array
of crunchy, tube amp sounds that most of today's guitar players would
die for. The tour de force was "Free Form Guitar," which grew
out of Terry playing around during a lunch break. Engineer Fred Catero
decided to roll tape, and the result is perhaps the wildest seven minutes
of music Chicago ever put out.
Seraphine; Laudir De Oliveira; Lee Loughnane; Terry Kath;
Peter Cetera; Walt
Parazaider; James Pankow; Robert Lamm
Kath was one of rock's most underrated greatest guitarist and has been known as
singer, prolific songwriter and co-founder of the legendary seminal jazz/rock
supergroup Chicago (1967-1978). His trail-blazing soaring guitar work has been
influential and has been the "heart and soul" to the band's sound and
his soulful baritone vocals (a la Ray Charles) has been known. Some of his best
guitar solos are "Free Form Guitar" , "Poem 58", "Mississippi
Delta City Blues", "Jenny", "Introduction" and "25
or 6 to 4" and "I'm a Man", he is best known with pioneering the
hammer-on harmonic guitar technique that is now used by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page,
Eddie Van Halen and many others.
could say that Terry was way ahead of his time. Even though Jimi Hendrix pretty
much dominated the experimental side of rock and roll, Terry did some things that
most guitarist didn't, or couldn't do in the 70's. In the early days, Terry was
most seen with a Fender Stratocaster and a Gibson SG. Both of them pretty standard.
Terry used his Stratocaster for a ground breaking technique in the song "Free
Form Guitar" from Chicago's first album. This is no doubt an experimental
piece of work (not really by today's standards) Rumor has it that Terry was messing
around with different distorted effects by plugging the Strat into a Bogen PA
amp, run into a Dual Showman amplifier. While not very friendly to the ears, this
particular sound had never been applied to anything at the time. Terry used this
effect again on "A Song For Richard And His Friends" from the Live at
Carnegie Hall album. Terry also used a Gibson Les Paul guitar. I believe his model
guitar was unique. This guitar had low impedance pickups, which had a line-level
output that easily drove long lengths of cord and which could be plugged directly
into studio equipment. For use with standard guitar amplifiers, an adapter was
needed. By around 1972-73, Terry began using a very unique custom Fender Telecaster.
Terry modified this guitar, and put a Gibson hum-bucking pickup, but left the
bridge pickup the same. This way, Terry could switch from a Gibson guitar sound,
to a Fender guitar sound with ease. This custom Telecaster was also very eye catching.
With Pignose Amplifier stickers placed randomly all over, and several other logos.
This was Terry's signature guitar... He would rarely be seen playing live with
any other guitar for the next several years. Terry also used many many effect
pedals too. Some of his best pedal works are: "25 or 6 to 4", "Lowdown",
"Liberation", "It Better End Soon", "Dialogue",
"Oh Thank You Great Spirit", "Takin It On Uptown", and "Italian
From New York", and many more. The last piece of equipment would be Terry
Pignose Amp. The company Pignose experimented with battery powered amps, and smaller
and louder amps. Terry really got this company off the ground. He was basically
the spokesman for Pignose
to Terry Kath Guitar Club
: Terry Kath
on January 31, 1946 in Chicago, Terry learned guitar completely by ear,
and by his teenaged years, was playing Ventures covers in local outfits.
Throughout the early to mid '60s, he played in such forgotten groups
as Jimmy Rice and the Gentlemen and Jimmy Ford and the Executives, the
latter of which served as the back-up group at one point for Dick Clark's
Caravan of Stars (Terry also doubled on bass at times for these bands,
as well). By the later part of the decade, he had signed on with several
other Chicago-based musicians to form a rock band that would utilize
a horn section, and during early 1967, the Chicago Transit Authority
was born. It was after an early CTA performance that he received perhaps
the highest accolade any guitarist could obtain, when Jimi Hendrix told
sax player Walter Parazaider, "Your guitar player is better than
me.". Later shortening their name to just Chicago, the band would
soon go on to become one of the top rock bands during the following
decade. Terry's fine guitar chops could be sampled on such Chicago hits
as "25 or 6 to 4" (from 1970's Chicago II) as well as the
lesser-known "Free Form Guitar" (off Chicago's self-titled
1969 debut). Appearing on a total of 11 Chicago recordings from 1969
through 1977 (all of which at obtained at least gold certification)
and numerous sold out tours, there was no reason to believe that Chicago's
incredible streak of hits wouldn't continue uninterrupted for years
to come. But at a party at his house on the evening of January 23, 1978,
Terry, who was a longtime gun aficionado, took out one of his weapons
to clean, and when asked to put it away, put the gun to his head. Reassuring
everyone that it wasn't loaded, Terry pulled the trigger, and the gun
did turn out to be loaded - instantly killing the guitarist barely a
week shy of what would have been his 32nd birthday. Chicago would continue
on with several different guitarists over the years attempting to fill
Kath's shoes, but the results were never quite the same. In 1997, Chicago
compiled a 14-track album that spotlighted Kath's finest performances,
the Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath, and several years later, Kath's
tragic tale was re-told in an episode of VH-1's Behind the Music series
that focused on Chicago. In addition to his skilled guitar work, Kath
also possessed a fine singing voice, as evidenced on such Chicago tunes
as "Introduction," "I'm A Man," "Free,"
and "Wishin' You Were Here," plus such hit singles as "Make
Me Smile" and "Color My World."
~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide
above : CD cover 'The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath'
Chicago Live at Carnegie
1967-97 The Heart of Chicago
1967-1997 30th Anniversary
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1998 Volume 2
Very Best of Chicago : Only The Beginning
Chicago Overtime, Canadian Release
Chicago 25 Years of Gold, Australian Release
The Very Best of Chicago, European
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1981 30th Anniversary, Japanese Release
the Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath
penned and recorded a tribute to his friend Jimi Hendrix "Oh Thank You Great
It can be heard on Chicago VIII album, (CD) track 7. In the latter
half of this number the love for his friend really rocks and shines through Terry's
amazing guitar solo.
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place to talk about Terry's induction into
High School Hall of Fame,
and his legacy to the world of rock music.
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