In 1987, Cetera received an ASCAP award for "Glory of Love" in the category, "Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures". His performance on "Glory of Love" was nominated for a Grammy Award for best pop male vocal. That same year Cetera and Amy Grant, who duetted on "The Next Time I Fall", were nominated for a Grammy Award for best vocal performance by a pop duo or group.
Cetera attended Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary for one year of high school because, he says, "my mother wanted me to be a priest".:59 He transferred to Mendel Catholic Prep High School, graduated from there in 1962, and is listed among the "Notable Alumni".
Cetera's interest in music began at 11 years of age when his parents bought him an accordion instead of the guitar he wanted. When he was 15, some older students from his high school took him to a club to see a band called The Rebel Rockers, which led to his purchasing an acoustic guitar at Montgomery Ward.
He eventually took up the electric bass, and with some high school friends--a drummer, guitarist and saxophone player--Cetera began playing the local dance circuit, dividing lead vocals with the guitarist. Cetera played in several groups in the Chicago area, including a popular local rock band named The Exceptions, which toured the Midwest in the mid-1960s. They released several singles and a five-song seven-inch EP titled Rock 'N' Roll Mass. Cetera is quoted as saying, "By the time I was 18 I was making more money than my dad."
Professional music career
Peter Cetera in 2017
Tenure in Chicago
In December 1967, Cetera arrived early for a show to watch a band called The Big Thing. Impressed by their use of a horn section combined with rock and roll, Cetera left The Exceptions to join The Big Thing within two weeks. The Big Thing, which soon changed their name to The Chicago Transit Authority (and eventually shortened it to Chicago) released their self-titled debut album Chicago Transit Authority on Columbia Records in 1969. Cetera shared lead vocal on three of the eleven songs on the album - "Questions 67 & 68," "I'm a Man" and "Someday," with his tenor voice complementing the baritone voices of the two other lead singers in the group, keyboardist Robert Lamm and guitarist Terry Kath.
The follow-up album, Chicago, vaulted the band to popular status throughout the world. The song "25 or 6 to 4" was the first major hit single with Cetera singing lead vocals. Chicago is also notable for featuring Cetera's first songwriting effort, "Where Do We Go From Here?"
As the 1970s progressed, Cetera would become a more prolific songwriter for the group, contributing the songs "Wishing You Were Here" and "Happy Man" from the 1974 album Chicago VII. "Wishing You Were Here" featured vocals by members of The Beach Boys, and reached number eleven on the charts. "Happy Man" was, according to Chicago producer James Guercio, "'a Number 1 record that was never released as a single.'" Cetera's biggest singing and songwriting accomplishment with Chicago came in 1976 with the ballad "If You Leave Me Now", from Chicago X. It was the group's first number one single in the United States, it reached number one on charts worldwide, and it has been certified Gold and Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song won a Grammy Award for Chicago, the group's only Grammy Award to date, for the 1976 Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus, at the 19th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 19, 1977. According to group biographer, William James Ruhlmann, " ... the success of "If You Leave Me Now" overshadowed the album from which it came, and also consolidated what by now seemed a definitely stated preference on the part of radio, if not Chicago's audience in general, for lush ballads sung by Peter Cetera over any other style the band might care to put forward." Following that success was Cetera's 1977 composition, "Baby, What a Big Surprise", from Chicago XI. The song featured Cetera on lead vocals and made it to number four on the record charts.
During this time Cetera also worked with other recording artists. He is credited as one of the background vocalists on the single "My Life", released in 1978, from the album 52nd Street by Billy Joel. The following year he collaborated with Karen Carpenter on her self-titled solo album, providing backing vocals for a song which he had also written, "Making Love in the Afternoon".
By the end of the 1970s, with the rise of disco music, Chicago's popularity declined, culminating in the release of the band's poorest-selling album to that point, Chicago XIV, which peaked at number seventy-one on the Billboard 200 chart in 1980. Columbia Records subsequently bought out the remainder of Chicago's contract.
In 1981, Cetera released his first solo album, Peter Cetera, on Warner Bros. Records, after personally buying the rights from his previous contract with Columbia Records, who would not release the project. The album, which peaked at number 143 on the Billboard 200, was considered a commercial failure, which Cetera attributed to Warner Bros.' refusal to promote him as a solo artist out of fear that he would leave Chicago, who had only recently signed with the label. Former bandmate Danny Seraphine agrees with Cetera on this point, and says that the album "... sank like a stone due to lack of record company support. Warner Brothers didn't want it to interfere with their plans for Chicago.":200
In 1982, David Foster was brought in as producer and the resulting group effort was Chicago 16. The album, which peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200 chart, represented a major comeback for Chicago, and leading the way was the hit single co-written by Cetera and Foster and featuring Cetera on lead vocals, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry". It went to number one on the charts, was certified Gold by the RIAA in September of that year, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It was also featured in the movie Summer Lovers starring Daryl Hannah. The second single, "Love Me Tomorrow", was also co-written (again with Foster) and sung by Cetera, reaching number twenty-two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The third single, "What You're Missing", was yet again sung by Cetera.
When Chicago 17 was released in 1984, it became the veteran band's most successful selling album in their history, eventually going on to sell over six million copies in the United States alone. All four singles released from the album were sung by Cetera, including three which he co-wrote, and all of them charted in the top twenty: "Stay the Night" (number sixteen), "Hard Habit to Break" (number three), "You're the Inspiration" (number three) and "Along Comes a Woman" (number fourteen).
With the advent of the music video and the growing popularity of MTV, Cetera became the 'face' and public leader of the long-time faceless band that was Chicago.
Departure from Chicago
With his newfound popularity, Cetera was interested in recording another solo album. In addition, he had stated his lack of interest for the extensive touring schedule of the band, especially to promote Chicago 17. When the 17 Tour concluded in May 1985, Chicago's management, along with several members of the band, had expressed a desire to book another tour for that summer and start working on the group's next album. The two sides could not resolve their differences and Cetera left the band in July 1985.:200, 209-2016, 265-266 Retrospectively Cetera said he wanted an arrangement similar to the one that Phil Collins and Genesis had at the time, with Collins being a member and touring with Genesis, while also doing some solo work at the same time and also retrospectively, his former bandmate, Danny Seraphine, said that's what the group should have done.:213 In a 1987 interview, Cetera said about his split from the group, "'It wasn't amicable, but it wasn't the worst. It's nothing that me having a hit and them having a hit won't make better.'"
After leaving Chicago, Cetera continued his streak of success. His first single, "Glory of Love" was used as the theme song for the film The Karate Kid Part II. Co-written by Cetera, David Foster, and Diane Nini, Cetera has said it was written originally for the film, Rocky IV. It was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts in the US in 1986, and achieved similar success throughout the world. It went on to win an ASCAP Award for Cetera for Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures and a BMI Film & TV Award for David Foster for Most Performed Song from a Film. It was also nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award in the category of Best Original Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Male Artist. He performed a shortened version of the song live at the 59th Academy Awards ceremony. In two interviews Cetera gave in 1987, he discussed people's confusion about "Glory of Love", and said they thought initially that it was a new song by Chicago. By February of that year, however, he had achieved enough recognition as a solo performer to win the American Video Award for "best new artist".
"Glory of Love" was included on Cetera's second solo album, Solitude/Solitaire, released in 1986. The album was also successful, with more than one million copies sold, and has been certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA. It produced another number one hit single on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, "The Next Time I Fall", a duet with Amy Grant. "The Next Time I Fall" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.Solitude/Solitaire, which made it to number twenty-three on the Billboard 200 chart, outsold Chicago 18, the first Chicago album without him, which peaked at number thirty-five. Cetera was listed at number nine on Billboard's Top Pop Singles Artists--Male of 1986.
In 1988, he teamed up with producer Patrick Leonard and released his third solo album, One More Story. Cetera and Leonard share writing credits on eight of the ten songs on the album, including the title song "One More Story", and the song, "One Good Woman", which became a number four hit single. Leonard also played piano and synthesizers on the album. The album features many well-known music artists such as: Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys on backup vocals, and Bonnie Raitt on guitar and backup vocals on the song, "Save Me";David Gilmour of Pink Floyd on guitar on the songs "Body Language" and "You Never Listen to Me"; and Madonna, who was working with Leonard on her new album at the time, in cameo as 'Lulu Smith', on vocals on the song, "Scheherazade". "Save Me", co-written by Cetera and David Foster, was the original opening theme music for the television show Baywatch. "You Never Listen to Me" plays during the opening scene of the Miami Vice episode, "Redemption in Blood: Part 2", although it is not credited.
In 1989, Cetera recorded another duet, this time with Cher, called "After All", which was included on the soundtrack of the movie Chances Are, as well as on Cher's Heart of Stone album. The song was a hit, reaching number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and receiving a Gold certification by the RIAA. In a 2014 article in Billboard, writer Keith Caulfield listed "After All" as Cher's ninth biggest Billboard hit.
In 1992, his final album on Warner Bros. Records, World Falling Down, was released. It featured the Adult Contemporary number one hit, "Restless Heart", as well as two other successful singles: "Even a Fool Can See" and another duet, this time with Chaka Khan, "Feels Like Heaven". The songs made it to number three and number five on the Adult Contemporary chart respectively. According to writer Melinda Newman, World Falling Down, "lyrically describes the crumbling of his marriage."
In 1995, Cetera released his first album for River North Records, One Clear Voice, and featured the single, "(I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight", a duet with actress Crystal Bernard, which peaked at number twenty-three on the Adult Contemporary chart, and number eighty-six on the Hot 100 chart. Following the release of the album, Cetera launched his first solo tour--accompanied by his River North labelmate, country singer Ronna Reeves--lasting into 1996. The tour had been delayed while Cetera recuperated from a motorcycle accident.
1997 brought You're the Inspiration: A Collection, a collection of all his duets from over the years, along with three re-recorded songs he had written while a member of Chicago--"If You Leave Me Now", "You're the Inspiration", and "Baby, What a Big Surprise"--and two brand new recordings, "Do You Love Me That Much", and "She Doesn't Need Me Anymore". In a 1997 interview, Cetera said that he had to remake the three Chicago songs because Chicago band members refused to release the master recordings for River North Records to use for this album. Although Cetera was at first reluctant to revisit his Chicago material, he soon had a change of heart and said, "'I viewed them as what I would do with the songs if they were new today.'" Additionally, this is the first of Cetera's solo albums to feature "After All", his 1989 number six duet with Cher from the soundtrack of the movie Chances Are.
Also in the 1990s, Cetera recorded covers of two of his songs from his Chicago days with the R&B vocal group, Az Yet. In 1996, Cetera performed a back-up vocal on Az Yet's single of "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", from Chicago 16, titled "Az Yet - Hard to Say I'm Sorry (Featuring Peter Cetera)". The song was nominated, once again, for a Grammy Award, this time in the category of "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal". In 1997, Az Yet performed vocals with Cetera on his single of "You're the Inspiration", from Chicago 17, titled "'You're the Inspiration' - Peter Cetera featuring Az Yet", and they appeared together in a music video featuring the song.
From 2003 until summer 2007, Cetera performed a very limited number of concerts each year with a 40 piece orchestra, playing re-arrangements of songs from throughout his career, including several from his tenure as a member of Chicago.
In December 2007, Cetera embarked on the You Just Gotta Love Christmas tour of the United States. It marked his return to a traditional rock band show, his first since 1996, featured songs from his 2004 Christmas album and from throughout his career.
Cetera sang live with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra for Smucker's Presents Hot Ice, Cool Sounds, an event featuring world-class ice skaters performing to the music of Peter Cetera. The show was taped on October 18, 2008, in Youngstown, Ohio, and was televised nationally by NBC on December 25, 2008.
Recently, Cetera formed a new band called The Bad Daddies. A seven-piece electric rock band, the group performs original material and covers of popular songs, as well as material from Chicago and Cetera's solo career and Cetera also plays bass on some songs during the shows.
In 2017, Cetera was a co-headliner for the Night of the Proms in Germany and Luxembourg, his first time performing in Germany in 35 years.
Prospect of a reunion with Chicago
During interviews, Cetera has often been asked about the prospect of a reunion with Chicago. While Cetera has compared his departure from the band to the divorce of a married couple, and thus far has declined to perform with the band despite attractive financial offers, he has also said "never say never".
In December 2015 it was announced that the seven original members of Chicago -- Cetera, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, Walter Parazaider, James Pankow, Danny Seraphine, and Terry Kath -- were to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the induction ceremony was set for April 8, 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Although initially Cetera and current band members had entertained the possibility of performing together for the induction ceremony, ultimately, Cetera decided against it. He announced his decision via two posts to his web site, dated February 8, 2016, and February 25, 2016, and in those posts expressed his frustration with trying to work out the performance details with band members and show producers. Cetera did not attend the ceremony even for the purpose of accepting his award. Since then there have been indications that a reunion between Cetera and Chicago is unlikely to ever happen. Cetera declined to be interviewed for the 2017 documentary Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.
Cetera's tenor voice has been labeled as "distinctive" and "unmistakable" by music reviewers.
Cetera's trademark singing style would develop as a result of having to sing for a period of time with a wired-shut jaw after getting into a brawl at a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 1969.:107-108
For Cetera, recording the vocals with members of The Beach Boys for "Wishing You Were Here" from Chicago VII was satisfying on a personal level per William James Ruhlmann. He writes that Cetera said, "'There's two people that I always wanted to be, and that was a Beatle or a Beach Boy. ...I got to do the background harmonies - myself and Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson and Al Jardine. For a night, I was a Beach Boy.'" Cetera had the opportunity, of sorts, to be both a Beatle and a Beach Boy. During a radio interview in 2015, he recalled as one of the highlights of his life a joint concert of Chicago and The Beach Boys when the two groups, who were performing on stage together, were joined by former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr for a rendition of the Beatles song, "Got to Get You into My Life."
Recognition and influence as singer
Cetera's former Chicago bandmates had high regard for his voice and singing ability. In his autobiographical book, Street Player: My Chicago Story, Danny Seraphine, the original drummer for the band Chicago, recollects that when the group was being formed in the city of Chicago in the 1960s it needed someone who could sing in the high range. Seraphine says Cetera was, at that time, "the best singer in the city".:58-59 In a 1992 interview, seven years after Cetera had left the group, original band member and woodwinds player Walt Parazaider called Cetera, "one of the finest singers in the world" and rated Cetera among his choice of top five singers. In a 2009 interview, former Chicago member Bill Champlin said of Cetera, "'I think he's one of the major voices of our time.'", and that he thought Cetera was one of, "'maybe the two best tenors on the Earth.'" In a 2016 documentary about the history of the group, original band member and keyboard player Robert Lamm says, "There were and are a lot of tenor voices in rock, and none of them sound [sic] like Cetera."
The Grammy Award and nominations, for songs that feature Cetera on lead vocals in whole or in part, together with the list of well-known singers who have recorded vocals with him, as detailed in this article, suggest that many others in the music industry also had a high regard for Cetera as a singer.
Besides the high sales history of songs featuring Cetera on lead vocals, here are some other indications of his popularity as a singer.
Cetera was the subject of discussion in a television advertisement for Heineken Premium Light beer that first aired in summer 2010. A young man at an assisted-living home holds up a copy of the World Falling Down LP cover and asks one of the residents why he likes Cetera. The older resident replies that he does not like Cetera, but the ladies do, "and if you like the ladies, then by default, you like Cetera." Cetera's song "Restless Heart" from the World Falling Down album is heard playing in the background.
Cetera's music and name have been featured on several episodes of the American television situation comedy series, The Goldbergs (2013 - 2017), which is set in the 1980s.
Bass equipment and playing style
Cetera's first bass guitar was a Danelectro Shorthorn and he switched to a Höfner 500/1 to use with The Exceptions, but after determining that the sound was not "bassy or ballsy" enough for Chicago, he bought a 1963 Fender Precision Bass to play and being his favorite bass, it would be his usual choice of instrument throughout his 17-year tenure with the band, hence he kept returning to it.
Writing for Bass Player magazine, Stevie Glasgow says, " ... Peter Cetera's bass (and vocals) were key to Chicago's sound. His tasty 4-string style was forged through a deep knowledge of early rock & roll and R&B, bolstered by a keen melodic sense, astute rhythmic prowess, and a dexterous technique capable of issuing graded nuance and fervent oomph in equal measure."
He currently endorses Wilkins basses, as well as Fender Precision Basses, Taurus bass amplification and initially using LaBella flatwound bass strings, he switched to the roundwound bass strings made by LaBella, but didn't quite like them as much as the flatwounds. He now uses the flatwounds again and Fender medium picks.
Recognition and influence as bass player
Cetera was featured in the cover story of the December 2007 issue of Bass Player magazine. Shortly thereafter, he saw the former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee playing bass guitar on television. Cetera sent his compliments, along with an autographed copy of the issue, to Huckabee, who was at that time a presidential hopeful in the 2008 Republican primaries. Huckabee said, "'I was totally awestruck to get a letter from Peter Cetera. ...having one of the greatest bass players in my generation give me a compliment is like winning New Hampshire.'"
Bass player Will Lee says Peter Cetera influenced his playing, calling Cetera's playing, "like a loose McCartney, but with all that Chi-town funk, and just as much taste and melodicism."
On February 22, 2017 it was announced that Cetera, Robert Lamm, and James Pankow are among the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees for their songwriting efforts as members of the music group, Chicago. The induction event was held Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, but Cetera did not attend.
In a 1986 interview, David Foster said of Cetera, "'He's the best writing partner I've ever had.'"
About the process of writing songs, Cetera has said, "'I'm like the very bad student who only studies the day before a test! I only tend to write songs when I have a purpose - I need to know that I'm going to do a new album, and then I would start writing. There are not a lot of Peter Cetera songs lying around, because I don't really write a lot of things when I'm not expected to do an album!'"
According to William James Ruhlmann, in 1969 the moon landing, Walter Cronkite, and convalescence after having his jaw broken provided Cetera with the right mix of inspiration and available time for him to write his first song, "Where Do We Go from Here", which was included on Chicago's second album. Up until that time he did not perceive himself as a songwriter, telling Ruhlmann, "'I came from a band that did Top 40 [The Exceptions], ...and as far as I was concerned, especially when the Beatles came along, number one, all melodies had already been taken, and, number two, certain people were songwriters and certain people were singers, and I didn't consider myself to be a songwriter.'"
Cetera also tells Ruhlmann that songs can come to people in "'flashes,'" but without a recording device at hand they're apt to "'disappear just exactly the way they come, into thin air.'" He says about the song, "Happy Man", from Chicago VII: "'[It] was a song I wrote about midnight driving down the San Diego Freeway on my motorcycle, ...It was the one and only song that I ever remembered, words and music, and I went home and sang it into a tape a day later, and that's how that song came out.'"
^ abcdRuhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set)(CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 14, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
^ abRuhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set)(CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. p. 8. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved 2016.
^Jerome, Jim (October 16, 1978). "Chicago's 'Alive Again'". People Weekly. Click on "Download the Entire Issue in PDF" then scroll PDF to magazine page 87 (pdf page 91). Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2017.
^ abcRuhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set)(CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. p. 4. Archived from the original on November 12, 2017. Retrieved 2016.
^ ab"Peter Cetera". Billboard. 93 (46). November 21, 1981. p. 100 (Full page advertisement for album). Retrieved 2019 – via Google books.
^Grein, Paul (January 26, 1985). "Record of the Year: Chicago Sustaining Comeback Momentum". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 4. New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. pp. 6, 79. Retrieved 2017. . . . they were dropped by Columbia when Cetera was in the middle of recording his first solo album. 'I had to buy out my album,' Cetera remembers, 'so here I was, walking around with an album that was half done, looking for a record company.'
^ abGrein, Paul (December 13, 1986). "Chart Beat". Billboard. Vol. 98 no. 50. New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 6.|quote=Costas Zougris of Athens notes that Peter Cetera has joined the lengthening list of artists who have topped the Hot 100 solo, in duet, and in a group. He made it on his own with "Glory of Love", with Amy Grant on "The Next Time I Fall", and twice with Chicago. Others who have done this: Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Diana Ross, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.
^ abCollins, D.M. (September 6, 2012). "TIM HEIDECKER: WHAT IS REAL AND FAKE". L.A. Record. YBX Media Inc. Archived from the original on January 4, 2017. Retrieved 2017. On Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, you were able to get some real soft- rock veterans to appear as themselves. I was pretty enamored of your 'Tairy Greene Machine' episode, in which both Richard Marx and Peter Cetera appeared to sing 'Little Dancing Man' songs. How did you get them, considering they were satirizing their own sound? We have a producer around when we're writing, and we try to get as much casting integration as possible, you know? Our producer went to them and made them the best offer that we could. They were nice guys! We want- ed Richard Marx to wear a wig because he doesn't have that big mane of hair anymore, but he refused.
^"Chicago". classicbands.com. classicbands.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved 2016. Four marines didn't like a long-haired rock 'n' roller in a baseball park," Cetera recounts, "and of course I was a Cub fan, and I was in Dodger Stadium, and that didn't do so well. I got in a fight and got a broken jaw in three places, and I was in intensive care for a couple of days. The only funny thing I can think about the whole incident," he says, "is that, with my jaw wired together, I actually went on the road, and I was actually singing through my clenched jaw, which, to this day, is still the way I sing.
^Cetera, Peter (September 28, 2015). "Peter Cetera/September 28"(audio). Humble & Fred Radio.Com (Interview). Interviewed by Howard Glassman and Fred Patterson. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Humble and Fred Radio. Event occurs at 1:07:04. Archived from the original on August 4, 2017. Retrieved 2017.
Top 100 (Kent Music Report) peaks to June 19, 1988: Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. pp. 18, 59. ISBN0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid-1983 until June 19, 1988.