The legendary band, Chicago, includes some of the university's most prominent alumni: James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and Lee Loughnane. Throughout Chicago's success over the past several decades, DePaul has always been proud to welcome them home - most recently at the opening of the Wintrust Arena, where the band performed on Nov. 9.
Pankow, Parazaider and Loughnane founded Chicago along with fellow DePaul students Terry Kath and Danny Seraphine, as well as outside recruits Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera. Kath passed away in 1978, and Seraphine left the band in 1990.
All five Blue Demons were students in the School of Music, and Parazaider and Loughnane also were members of the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
In 1968, the band's manager, DePaul alum James William Guercio, convinced them to move to Los Angeles to have a better chance at achieving success. Guercio's decision proved to be the right one. When Chicago first returned to DePaul in 1971, the band had three gold albums; all three would later be certified platinum.
However, their success had not diminished their appreciation for their roots. Following the announcement of their first performance at DePaul after reaching rock and roll stardom, the band held a press conference where Parazaider stated, "There are many professors at DePaul I would like to thank. They bore down and persuaded me to become a performer instead of the teaching career I had planned."
Chicago performed at Alumni Hall on May 13, 1971, with ticket prices for the show ranging from $3.50 to $6.50 each. These exorbitant ticket prices were for a good cause. At Chicago's request, $5,000 of the concert's proceeds went towards creating a music scholarship at DePaul.
The concert was special for one other reason, which "The DePaulia" noted in its issue dedicated to the show: "The memories are there, as are the photographs and copy, but no camera or pencil could have successfully captured the exchanges of expression between the members of the band and the proud, beaming faces in the front row of Alumni Hall - their parents."
Chicago would return again on Aug. 5, 1982, to perform in a benefit concert for DePaul at Park West. Many things had changed for the band members in the intervening years, most notably the length of their hair. But their spirit and enthusiasm for their alma mater remained the same. Numerous photographs show the DePaul alums hanging out around campus, showing support for Blue Demon basketball and posing with the legendary Leon Stein, another famous School of Music alum. The pictures capture the true spirit of DePaul: like any home, no matter how long you may be gone, the people here will welcome you back with open arms and pride.
Just as the members of Chicago have given back to DePaul time and time again over the years, DePaul has also done its best to continue to recognize them. In 2008, the university awarded Parazaider an honorary doctorate of humane letters, an honor that highlighted the relationship between the band and the university.
The band members of Chicago will always see DePaul as part of their roots, a place where they were given the support and resources to form their own destiny. DePaul will always be proud of the positive influence these alumni have had on the world.