A Phil Brodie Band Tribute Page HOME PAGE

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Please Sign The


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

USA flag gif

Terry Kath
January 31st 1946 ~ January 23rd 1978

He was a lead guitarist in a league with Jimi Hendrix - this according to no less an authority than Hendrix himself. After hearing the band in 1968 at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, Hendrix told Chicago saxophone player Walter Parazaider "Your guitar player is better than me." Hendrix was so shocked and amazed at his guitar abilities that he took him and the band on tour as the opening act on his and Janis Joplin's European tour in 1968. Allegedly, his was also one of the only times that Hendrix was actually floored by another guitarist. Rock critics, unfortunately didn't offer the same for Kath. Pop music critics seemed to rebuke Chicago with regularity during the band's hey days in the 1960s and 1970s.
Terry Kath
above : Terry Kath
So sad because Terry curtainly deserves recognition. He was an integral part of a an eight piece band. While four-piece rock bands use two guitarists, Terry held down both rhythm and lead guitar parts by himself. On top of this, he sang lead vocals on many of the band's songs, and did backing vocals on most of the others. He also was the band's on-stage front man.
He did not read music. He played and composed totally by ear. Being an "untrained" musician in a group of college-trained musicians was not a handicap. His bandmates were in awe of him.

Terry Kath in The Mystics
left to right: Denny Horan, drums; Brian Higgins, rhythm guitar; George Slezak, bass guitar;
Terry Kath, lead guitar; Mike Pisani, piano.

Although Chicago is often thought of as a ballad-based soft rock outfit, early on in their career, the "Kath Era" guitarist/singer Terry Kath brought a much more rock-based edge to the band. Terry's guitar scales and speed were exceptional, especially for that time era, and lets not forget he did'nt read music. He was playing very technicalized scales for that time at incredible speed with a Fender Stratocaster, a Gibson SG Standard, a Gibson Les Paul Recording and a Fender Telecaster Custom. Even though Jim Hendrix was good at the time he could not match the speed and accurately produced scale runs of Terry.
On thier first album Terry's blazing guitar work is featured throughout. He mixes blues, jazz and rock riffs throughout the double-album set. Also present are his soulful vocals. Running a Stratocaster and an SG through a Bogen pre-amp and into a dual showman, Terry produced an array of crunchy, tube amp sounds that most of today's guitar players would die for. The tour de force was "Free Form Guitar," which grew out of Terry playing around during a lunch break. Engineer Fred Catero decided to roll tape, and the result is perhaps the wildest seven minutes of music Chicago ever put out.

Terry Kath in Chicago.
Danny Seraphine; Laudir De Oliveira; Lee Loughnane; Terry Kath;
Peter Cetera; Walt Parazaider; James Pankow; Robert Lamm

Terry Kath was one of rock's most underrated greatest guitarist and has been known as singer, prolific songwriter and co-founder of the legendary seminal jazz/rock supergroup Chicago (1967-1978). His trail-blazing soaring guitar work has been influential and has been the "heart and soul" to the band's sound and his soulful baritone vocals (a la Ray Charles) has been known. Some of his best guitar solos are "Free Form Guitar" , "Poem 58", "Mississippi Delta City Blues", "Jenny", "Introduction" and "25 or 6 to 4" and "I'm a Man", he is best known with pioneering the hammer-on harmonic guitar technique that is now used by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and many others.

Terry Kath.


Some could say that Terry was way ahead of his time. Even though Jimi Hendrix pretty much dominated the experimental side of rock and roll, Terry did some things that most guitarist didn't, or couldn't do in the 70's. In the early days, Terry was most seen with a Fender Stratocaster and a Gibson SG. Both of them pretty standard. Terry used his Stratocaster for a ground breaking technique in the song "Free Form Guitar" from Chicago's first album. This is no doubt an experimental piece of work (not really by today's standards) Rumor has it that Terry was messing around with different distorted effects by plugging the Strat into a Bogen PA amp, run into a Dual Showman amplifier. While not very friendly to the ears, this particular sound had never been applied to anything at the time. Terry used this effect again on "A Song For Richard And His Friends" from the Live at Carnegie Hall album. Terry also used a Gibson Les Paul guitar. I believe his model guitar was unique. This guitar had low impedance pickups, which had a line-level output that easily drove long lengths of cord and which could be plugged directly into studio equipment. For use with standard guitar amplifiers, an adapter was needed. By around 1972-73, Terry began using a very unique custom Fender Telecaster. Terry modified this guitar, and put a Gibson hum-bucking pickup, but left the bridge pickup the same. This way, Terry could switch from a Gibson guitar sound, to a Fender guitar sound with ease. This custom Telecaster was also very eye catching. With Pignose Amplifier stickers placed randomly all over, and several other logos. This was Terry's signature guitar... He would rarely be seen playing live with any other guitar for the next several years. Terry also used many many effect pedals too. Some of his best pedal works are: "25 or 6 to 4", "Lowdown", "Liberation", "It Better End Soon", "Dialogue", "Oh Thank You Great Spirit", "Takin It On Uptown", and "Italian From New York", and many more. The last piece of equipment would be Terry Pignose Amp. The company Pignose experimented with battery powered amps, and smaller and louder amps. Terry really got this company off the ground. He was basically the spokesman for Pignose
Thanks to Terry Kath Guitar Club

Terry Kath.
above : Terry Kath

Born on January 31, 1946 in Chicago, Terry learned guitar completely by ear, and by his teenaged years, was playing Ventures covers in local outfits. Throughout the early to mid '60s, he played in such forgotten groups as Jimmy Rice and the Gentlemen and Jimmy Ford and the Executives, the latter of which served as the back-up group at one point for Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars (Terry also doubled on bass at times for these bands, as well). By the later part of the decade, he had signed on with several other Chicago-based musicians to form a rock band that would utilize a horn section, and during early 1967, the Chicago Transit Authority was born. It was after an early CTA performance that he received perhaps the highest accolade any guitarist could obtain, when Jimi Hendrix told sax player Walter Parazaider, "Your guitar player is better than me.". Later shortening their name to just Chicago, the band would soon go on to become one of the top rock bands during the following decade. Terry's fine guitar chops could be sampled on such Chicago hits as "25 or 6 to 4" (from 1970's Chicago II) as well as the lesser-known "Free Form Guitar" (off Chicago's self-titled 1969 debut). Appearing on a total of 11 Chicago recordings from 1969 through 1977 (all of which at obtained at least gold certification) and numerous sold out tours, there was no reason to believe that Chicago's incredible streak of hits wouldn't continue uninterrupted for years to come. But at a party at his house on the evening of January 23, 1978, Terry, who was a longtime gun aficionado, took out one of his weapons to clean, and when asked to put it away, put the gun to his head. Reassuring everyone that it wasn't loaded, Terry pulled the trigger, and the gun did turn out to be loaded - instantly killing the guitarist barely a week shy of what would have been his 32nd birthday. Chicago would continue on with several different guitarists over the years attempting to fill Kath's shoes, but the results were never quite the same. In 1997, Chicago compiled a 14-track album that spotlighted Kath's finest performances, the Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath, and several years later, Kath's tragic tale was re-told in an episode of VH-1's Behind the Music series that focused on Chicago. In addition to his skilled guitar work, Kath also possessed a fine singing voice, as evidenced on such Chicago tunes as "Introduction," "I'm A Man," "Free," and "Wishin' You Were Here," plus such hit singles as "Make Me Smile" and "Color My World." ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide

CD cover "Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath"
above : CD cover 'The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath'


Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago II
Chicago III
Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall
Chicago V
Chicago VI
Chicago VII
Chicago VIII
Chicago Greatest Hits
Chicago X
Chicago XI
1967-97 The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 30th Anniversary
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1998 Volume 2
The Very Best of Chicago : Only The Beginning
Chicago Overtime, Canadian Release
Chicago 25 Years of Gold, Australian Release
The Very Best of Chicago, European Release
The Heart of Chicago 1967-1981 30th Anniversary, Japanese Release
the Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath

Terry Kath

Terry penned and recorded a tribute to his friend Jimi Hendrix "Oh Thank You Great Spirit"
It can be heard on Chicago VIII album, (CD) track 7. In the latter half of this number the love for his friend really rocks and shines through Terry's amazing guitar solo.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Please Sign The

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A place to talk about Terry's induction into
The Taft High School Hall of Fame,
and his legacy to the world of rock music.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~