Terry Kath

Happy Birthday

Terry Alan Kath
January 31, 1946
Chicago, Illinois

We take time to remember Terry Kath on his birthday. Kath was an amazing guitarist and songwriter, best known as a founding member of the band "Chicago". Severely underrated, Jimi Hendrix once told Chicago band member Walt Parazaider that "Your guitar player is better than me."

Kath played guitar and sang lead vocals on many of the band's early hit singles. He has been praised by the band for his guitar skills and Ray Charles-influenced vocal style.

Chicago came out of the Windy City's '60s counter-culture, and most of the band members met as music students with hopes of creating jazz- and-rock-influenced songs that reflected the tumultuous times. They also wanted to dabble in experimental music.

​On the band's 1969 self-titled debut album, Kath raised eyebrows with his nearly seven-minute instrumental guitar extravaganza called "Free Form Guitar." Electric guitar lovers still talk about that ear-bending recording all these years later.
Guitar Player magazine called "Free Form Guitar" "astounding." Players said it proved that Kath's manipulation of the strings, fretboard and effects were ahead of his time. On the track, there are moments when he plays around with "two-handed tapping," a style that would be made popular a decade later by a young upstart guitarist from the Netherlands named Eddie Van Halen.

Kath "could play a rhythm guitar part, a lead guitar part and sing a lead vocal simultaneously. I've never heard anybody that could do that," said the band's trumpet player, Lee Loughnane.

Kath sang lead on "Make Me Smile", "Color My World", "I'm A Man", "Wishing You Were Here", and many more.  Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell reportedly has described Kath as a vocal inspiration. 

Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne said Kath was "the fastest guitar player I've ever seen." Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, an icon in his own right, recently called Kath "one of the most underrated guitar legends of the '70s." Who could forget the classic guitar solo in "25 or 6 to 4"!

Kath struggled with substance abuse issues, and enjoyed playing with handguns, which is a recipe for disaster. In 1978, Kath accidentally shot himself and died instantly. He was only 31 years old. Kath left a wife and 2 year old daughter. 

We remember and salute Terry Kath on his birthday!
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