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Hamptons Life

Aug 16, 2016 11:47 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Peter Cetera To Perform Hits From Chicago And His Solo Career At WHBPAC

Peter Cetera will perform at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on August 21, 2016. KURT HEINECKE
Aug 16, 2016 11:47 AM

Bringing songs from his tenure with influential rock band Chicago and his run as an acclaimed solo artist, Peter Cetera is playing at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Sunday—and he promises a can’t-miss show.

“I do all the songs that I wrote and performed and were number-one hits, both with Chicago and with my solo career,” Mr. Cetera said during a recent phone interview, calling from his longtime hometown of Ketchum, Idaho.

These days, Mr. Cetera puts on two types of shows: Either he’s backed by a symphony, or by his back-up band, The Bad Daddies. He’ll be doing the latter in Westhampton Beach.

The Bad Daddies is a fabulous group of musicians, Mr. Cetera said, adding, “They are the best group I’ve ever been associated with.”

Though he may be most renowned for his voice—he’s a tenor—in addition to being the lead singer on many tracks, Mr. Cetera was also Chicago’s bass player.

He admitted that when he started playing bass, he thought it would be simpler than a six-string guitar.

“I thought it was the easiest way to get into a band, because it only had four strings,” he recalled. “I thought that might be easier to learn. Of course, the first month I played, I realized I was tuning it for the wrong four strings.”

When he was a sophomore in high school, he met a senior who was a guitar player, and they formed a band. He credits his first bandmate with introducing him to the music of Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley.

He discovered a band called The Big Thing in 1967, and when he joined the name was changed to The Chicago Transit Authority, and eventually just Chicago. He helped propel Chicago to become one of most chart-topping American bands of all time.

In 1981, while still a member of Chicago, he put out his self-titled debut solo album. “I did it, recorded it, then got sabotaged by the record company, who didn’t want me to get a big hit and go out there and do something on my own,” he said. “So they decided not to promote it in any way.”

He managed to get a number-one single in 1982, “Living in the Limelight.” But with no promotion for the album, he said, “it died a slow death, and that was it—until the group and I finally parted ways.”

Going solo allowed him to make his own decisions without always being questioned about everything he ever did: “They’re my decisions and I stick by them.”

He left the band in 1985, and his first post-Chicago solo album, “Solitude/Solitaire,” was released in 1986 and had two wildly successful singles: The first, “Glory of Love,” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and was also part of the soundtrack for “The Karate Kid, Part II,” earning Mr. Cetera an Oscar nomination. The second, “The Next Time I Fall,” was a duet with Amy Grant, and it also hit number one.

He followed up with even more hits, including “One Good Woman,” “Restless Heart,” and a duet with Chaka Khan, “Feels Like Heaven.”

“After Chicago and I split up, I had a little run of success, then I sort of gave it up for a while and hid out up in the mountains,” Mr. Cetera said.

Though he was kidding for the most part, he wasn’t being figurative: Ketchum is a small city in the valley of the world-famous skiing destination Bald Mountain.

He credited veteran producer David Foster with getting him back into music. Mr. Foster asked him to join a Ronald McDonald House Charities’ concert for World Children’s Day in 2002 with Celine Dion, Enrique Iglesias and Josh Groban.

Mr. Cetera said he reluctantly agree and did a 10-minute medley of four of his songs, with a symphony. “I just realized how much fun it was back on stage. From that I got a PBS special.” He performed with the Chicago Pops Orchestra for the PBS program “Soundstage.”

He started performing symphony shows, unplugged, with a piano player and a couple acoustic guitar players.

Then he began putting together an electric band again.

“Right now, I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had, and I think I’m better than I’ve ever been,” he said.

It wasn’t until just this year that Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “When I found out that we hadn’t even been nominated in 20 years, that’s very strange to me—and that’s an impossibility,” Mr. Cetera said.

As the New York Post wrote in a web headline, “It’s about damn time Chicago made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Mr. Cetera said the long delay may be due to some hijinks, or even a vendetta. He found both the Hall of Fame and his former bandmates hard to work with, so he skipped the induction ceremony held in April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“I decided, for my sanity … I didn’t want to go there and participate in something that was going to be like pulling teeth. And so I thought it was best that I just stayed away.

“They mailed me my trophy, and it’s still on my mantle, and I’m happy.”

He put it succinctly: “It’s like being invited to a party, last minute, that a bunch of people are throwing for your ex-wife—and they ask you to come and show up and act like you’re in love.”

Mr. Cetera continues to enjoy his solo career, making his own creative decisions. He said that whenever he has a concert, he thinks, “I feel sorry for people who either didn’t know about this or didn’t go—they missed a great show. And I think that echoes with the crowds”

His concerts give fans a chance to put it all together, he said. “A lot of people know my voice, and they don’t know my face. And a lot of people know my name, but they’re not quite sure what songs I’ve written, which ones I’ve sung. They can put it all together—and we’re gonna have so much fun on stage.”

Peter Cetera will perform Sunday, August 21, at 8 p.m. at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton. Admission is $170, $200 or $230. Visit whbpac.org or call 631-288-1500.

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