WHAT: Peter Cetera
WHERE: Menominee Nation Arena, Oshkosh WI
WHEN: Saturday, October 6 at 7:30 PM
COST: $38.00 – $128.00
Singer/songwriter/producer Peter Cetera grew up in a Polish/Hungarian household on the Southside of Chicago. He then joined up with members of what would later become the rock/jazz/pop supergroup Chicago. During his tenure with the band, Cetera penned such Chicago classics as “If You Leave Me Now,” “Wishing You Were Here,” and “Baby, What a Big Surprise.” He served as bassist and lead vocalist while he was with Chicago.
Cetera decided to pursue a solo career in 1985 and continues to enjoy much success in the music scene today. During both his Chicago and solo years, collaboration with longtime writing partner David Foster produced one of Cetera’s best known songs, the mega hit, “Glory of Love,” and many others.
As a solo artist, in 1987 Cetera won an ASCAP award for “Glory of Love” in the Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures category, along with co-writers Foster and Diane Nini. That same year he received an American Video Award for Best New Artist. He has been nominated for a number of Grammy awards, an academy Award, and a Golden Globe. During his Chicago years, the band won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus 1976 for the song “If You Leave Me Now.” In 2016 Cetera and the other members of Chicago were inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.
Cetera is a huge sports fan and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors after having relocated to Idaho years ago. He is extremely close to his two grown daughters, both of whom are also artistically inclined. Cetera tried his hand at acting, appearing in Electra Glide in Blue (1973) and a USA Network television movie, Memories of Midnight (1991).
He currently performs with The Bad Daddies, his dynamic seven-piece electric band composed of seasoned session musicians. They perform both original material and popular songs.
Cetera is finishing up a couple of dates in the U.S. and then will head over to Europe for a two week tour of shows.
I caught up with Cetera while he was on a stop in Denver.
Jane Spietz: I’m curious. How did you and your family end up in Idaho?
Peter Cetera: After I moved out of Chicago, I moved to LA. When my first daughter was a year old, I decided I didn’t want to raise her in LA. I started looking for another place to live and just happened upon Ketchum, Idaho. Met some people there and started going back and forth, and then decided to move up there.
JS: I’ve been to Ketchum. I used to do a lot of backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains there. Beautiful country. I love the mountains there.
PC: Really? I’ll be doggoned. I love the mountains, too.
JS: How did your Polish heritage influence your music?
PC: I was around a lot of music at Polish weddings and started playing accordion. I got into music through that end of it. Little by little, you know?
JS: Your parents approved of buying you an accordion but not a guitar.
PC: Right about the time I started listing to top 40 music, I thought, “Oh, I wanna get a guitar.” I told my parents and my mom said, “No, no. You’re not getting a guitar. We’ll buy you an accordion, but that’s it.” So I was probably the last kid in Chicago to end up playing accordion. Then little by little, through summer jobs, I got enough to buy a really cheap guitar further on down the road when I was a sophomore in high school.
JS: You are a huge Beatles fan. Please share the story of how you forgot your name when you met Paul McCartney.
PC: Our management took over the management of the Paul McCartney “Wings Over America” tour. We came into town because we were on tour and we got tickets to go see “Wings over America.” We were then invited to go to this big, big party at the Harold Lloyd mansion in Beverly Hills. I was walking up this long winding driveway there when Paul and Linda McCartney came out of the bushes. I think I know what they were doing. They were smoking something which was illegal at the time. They came stumbling out of the bushes and there I was. I went, “Oh my god – hi Paul. I’m – my name is ….” Paul says, “I know, Peter Cetera. How are you? We’re with the same manager,” blah, blah, blah. And that’s how that happened. I was dumbfounded at the time.
JS: Talk about your work with David Foster.
PC: David was brought in by the record company at a time when Chicago was on the verge of breaking up. David and I clicked immediately. We proceeded to write a bunch of fantastic songs like “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “Stay the Night” and a bunch of things. We started to click and nobody else in the group was really capable at that time of writing anything. So we got in the studio together and produced Chicago 16 and Chicago 17. After that we decided to go our separate ways. It was good. I still work with David occasionally. Actually, we wrote “Glory of Love” as well, which was on my first solo album.
JS: Do your two daughters take after their dad musically?
PC: My oldest daughter was a singer-songwriter. She’s now out of that and into acting. My youngest daughter is a dancer. Show business is tough, and trust me, I tried to steer them both away from it! (Laughs) Neither one of my daughters will sing in front of me, which is bizarre, because they both have good voices. I’ve heard them. (Laughs) They are both very artistic.
JS: Your collaborations with various symphonies have resulted in many beautiful performances. Describe what that experience is like.
PC: It’s just like what one would imagine. It’s a lot of fun. I did a symphony performance for a PBS special. And through that I got a lot of offers. So little by little I started doing more symphonies. After a while the symphonies kind of dried up. Performances with special guest stars are the first things to go when the money crunch happens. Symphonies are always under a money crunch. I’m not performing with them as much anymore, although I’d like to.
JS: Peter, you will be performing at the Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh WI on Saturday, October 6. What can your audience look forward to that evening?
PC: I have a fantastic group of people in my seven-piece band, The Bad Daddies. A 7 piece group made up of a bunch of studio session players. We’ve been together for quite some time now. We enjoy what we’re doing and we bring that out on stage. We play all of the right songs and everybody goes home happy.
Photo credits courtesy of Peter Cetera.