In a sneak peek video of the upcoming installment, Robert Lamm and Lee Loughnane of the legendary band Chicago chat with award-winning newsman and AXS TV host Dan Rather about writing some of the group’s biggest hits.
Lamm specifically talks about the creative process for one of the band’s signature hits, ““25 Or 6 To 4.” The idea for the song struck him when the group played as the house band on the off nights at the world-famous Hollywood venue, Whisky-A-Go-Go.
He came home one night after playing and sat down at the piano. He started to work out a riff – with no lyrics or anything yet and fooled around with it for about half an hour. He said, “I looked out over the city, looking out at the lights on the tall buildings. So that was ‘flashing lights against the sky.’ But I couldn’t figure out what the song was going to be about.”
He continued, “I looked across the room and there was an old grandmother’s clock on the wall. I couldn’t quite make out what the time was. But the hands on the clock were somewhere around 25 or 26 to 4 a.m. So, I thought, for now, I’m just going to describe the process of writing this song. I’ll figure out what the lyrics are going to be later.' But I didn’t need to.”
Chicago recorded the song on their self-titled second studio album in 1969. They released the album in January 1970 and the song came out as a single in June. The track was notably their first song to crack the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. They recorded an updated version of the song for the band’s 1986 Chicago 18 album. The track remains one of the pop-rock-jazz group’s staple songs at live shows.
Dan Rather is famous for soliciting little gold nuggets of information like these from his host of celebrity guests.
Chicago is easily one of the most storied American bands in music history. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, just shy of making music for five decades. The group's lead vocalist Peter Cetera, along with Lamm and James Pankow, were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame the next year.
Tune in to AXS TV for “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to learn more about Chicago’s prolific musical journey. Find AXS TV on your TV.