Bill Champlin first made his mark in The Sons of Champlin, a San Francisco band which created a heady, horn-driven mix of R&B and psychedelia. Their 1969 album Loosen Up Naturally is considered by many to be a lost classic. The band continued into the 1970’s, reunited in the late 1990’s as a live band, and released a couple of albums of in the 2000’s.
Champlin also did session work with a number of artists during the 1970’s and 1980’s, including Patti LaBelle, Lou Rawls, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Donna Summer, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, Jimmy Smith, Amy Grant, Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers. He co-wrote “After the Love Has Gone”, a hit for Earth, Wind & Fire, and “Turn Your Love Around”, a hit for George Benson, and sang the theme song for the TV Show “In the Heat of the Night”.
Finally, for nearly three decades Champlin was a member of the band Chicago, joining in time for the album Chicago 16. He shared lead vocals on the hit “Hard Habit to Break”, and sang the vocals on “Look Away”, Chicago’s first Number One song after Peter Cetera left the band. He left Chicago in 2008 to focus on his solo career.
This interview was for a concert by The Songs of Champlin on 1/3/15 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, a show co-billed with his son Will Champlin. It was done by phone on 1/12/14. And if you haven’t heard The Sons of Champlin before or just need a refresher, the first song “1982-A” from their classic 1969 album Loosen Up Naturally is a good place to start – click here.
Jason Scheff joined Chicago at age 23 when singer/bassist Peter Cetera left the band in 1985 for a solo career. The band continued their winning streak with songs including “Will You Still Love Me” and “What Kind of Man Would I Be?”, both co-written and sung by Scheff, who has remained with the band ever since. Most recently, Scheff co-wrote the title track of the band’s new album Chicago XXXVI: Now. He also co-wrote the 1988 hit Boz Scaggs song “Heart of Mine”.
This interview was for a preview article for the Chicago concert on 9/14/14. It was done by phone on 9/3/14.
There are a number of musicians who might not be household names, but have been instrumental (pun intended) to the music that we have known and loved over the years. A great example is Chris Pinnick, who from 1980-85 played guitar with Chicago, an era that included monster hits like “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard Habit to Break”, and “Stay the Night”. And lest we think that Chicago went completely soft during that time period, check out this YouTube clip from 1984 with Pinnick on guitar.
Pinnick describes himself as semi-retired, but he still plays at times with the band Pockets, which is made up of other amazing musicians whose resumes include stints with America, Oingo Boingo, The Black Crowes, Rick Nelson, and others. This interview was for a preview article for the the Santa Barbara County Frack Free Music Festival with Pockets and other bands on 7/20/14. It was done by phone on 7/7/14.