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Chicago Celebrates 55th Anniversary with New Album and Documentary, Even as Band Asks ‘If This Is Goodbye’

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Roy Trakin As the new documentary on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group puts it, Chicago is “The Last Band On-Stage,” marking its 55th anniversary since its founding in the city of the same name in 1967.

The feature film is the second about the band from director Peter Curtis Pardini, who also helmed 2016’s “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago,” and catches us up on the last six years, the title referring to their 18-month absence due to the pandemic after a final performance on March 14, 2020 at Las Vegas’ Venetian before everything shut down.

From the members’ beginnings as part of Windy City cover bands to their incarnation as Chicago Transit Authority on their groundbreaking debut, the band has had 28 different members over the years, with only vocalist/keyboardist Robert Lamm, trumpet player Lee Loughnane and trombonist Jimmy Pankow remaining from that original lineup.

Their contemporaries include Joe Mantegna, now the star of TV’s “Criminal Minds,” but then just a member of fellow Chitown cover group the Apocryphals — hence his presence as narrator of the documentary, and moderator of a recent panel hosted by the Grammy Museum in L.A., joining the three band mainstays in front of an audience of adoring fans.

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