The LA WEEKLY Article

Never Heard of Guitarist Terry Kath From the Band Chicago? He's Ah-Mazing

ANDY HERMANN | AUGUST 15, 2014 | 4:15AM

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In Canoga Park in January 1978, a young guitar player and singer named Terry Kath died of an accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wound. Joking around with a friend, Kath held what he thought was an unloaded handgun to his temple and pulled the trigger, Russian roulette style. But there was a single bullet in the chamber, and Kath died instantly. He was 31 years old.

Kath left behind one of the most successful rock bands in history, Chicago – a group that, at the time of his death, had released 11 consecutive platinum-selling albums, and would go on to release seven more. He also left behind a wife, Camelia, a two-year-old daughter, Michelle, and a complicated legacy that Michelle, now 38, is exploring in a forthcoming documentary, Searching for Terry.

Fans of Chicago call Kath one of rock’s most underrated guitarists, with a unique way of mixing together blues, funk and jazz techniques into propulsive rhythm parts and fiery, unconventional leads.

An often retold story has Jimi Hendrix approaching the band’s sax player, Walt Parazaider, after a show at the Whisky a Go Go in 1968 and saying, “I think your guitarist is better than me.”

But over the years, treacly pop hits like “Baby, What a Big Surprise” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” diminished Chicago’s credibility as serious musicians. Though songs like “25 or 6 to 4” and “Make Me Smile” from the band's jazzier, horn-driven early days remain staples of classic-rock radio, they seem like the work of a completely different band – one whose guitarist was forgotten by all but a few diehard fans.

Kath’s daughter, Michelle Kath Sinclair, was cruelly reminded of this when she began trying to finance Searching for Terry about five years ago.

“The question was always, ‘Who is your target audience? Where would this project end up?’” she says, still unable to hide her frustration.

Only the drug-fueled circumstances of her father’s death sparked any interest. Sinclair recalls one would-be producer telling her, “If you were a fucked-up drug addict and struggling with the same demons as your father, this would be great.”

(While there was no definitive evidence that Kath was high when he shot himself, he was known to have substance abuse issues: “Coke had its hooks deep into Terry and his behavior spiraled out of control,” drummer Danny Seraphine wrote in his memoir, Street Player: My Chicago Story, describing Kath just before his death.)

Finally, Sinclair took the project to Kickstarter, where the Chicago faithful have thus far supported two separate crowdfunding campaigns to the tune of over $98,000. With her latest fundraising goals met, Sinclair anticipates she can have the film finished by 2015.

So far, Searching for Terry includes interviews with every original Chicago member except Peter Cetera, the bassist with the silky, high tenor on all those soft-rock ballads, who left the band for a solo career in 1985. “He’s a tough one,” says Sinclair. “He doesn’t do interviews or anything regarding Chicago. So we’ll see.”

Sinclair was also able to interview the band’s longtime producer, James William Guercio, and guitarist Joe Walsh, a friend and admirer of Kath’s. But some of her favorite moments in the film are interviews with her Uncle Rod, Terry’s brother, and her mother, who surprised her with a few stories she had never heard before.

“Some of the great stories are just learning a little bit more about his personality,” says Sinclair, who grew up with only the haziest memories of her father. She cites one story, told more than once, about a kid who ran up and stole one of Kath’s more expensive guitars after a gig. Before the roadies could chase after him, Kath called them off: “If he needed it that bad, just let him have it.”

In a way, even before Searching for Terry gets released, Sinclair has already achieved one of the project’s goals: She knows more about her father now than she ever did before. But her other goal with the documentary is “giving him the recognition he deserves as a guitarist, which I felt he never really got.”

Based especially on Chicago’s many live recordings from the ‘70s, which really showcase Kath’s skills as a bandleader and soloist, it’s recognition that’s long overdue.

Posted on April 20, 2018 and filed under Press.

Why the MEMBER's LOUNGE is going public

Hello, Members and Fans,

We are going public with the Member's Lounge and turning it into a blog. 

Now that the film is out there, thanks to your amazing contribution, we would like to make the Terry Kath Website a place to host the history of Terry's news.  Since our first Kickstarter, there has been a host of articles and exciting Terry developments that we would like to keep a register of, here on the official Terry Kath website, for all future inquiring minds.  Sort of like an official collection of all things Terry.  Or an online record of Terry Kath.  Fun!  This will also help those Members that have lost their password (man that was hard to keep up with)  

Thank you again to all that have become a part of the Terry Kath Community.  It has been an amazing experience for me and I have loved every minute of the journey

Michelle Kath Sinclair

Posted on April 10, 2018 .

My Letter To Danny

Hello and hope your travels are safe,

So I am playing around with songs that are proud pleasers and song that have good breaks in them with my Dad’s sound (voice or guitar).  It’s pretty cool cause I can hear where you can come in and, with some stuff, I can drop out the song, you play and then I mix in the next track.  

Also, messed around with Free Form Guitar and found a cool way to work that over some drums.  Would be a pretty rad moment.

I am open to your thoughts on songs too.  Trying to think of a good opener and a feel good closer.  Here is the list, in kind of an order.  Just been mixing and playing with it.

25 or 6 to 4

Listen

It Better End Soon

Free Form Guitar mix with live drum

Saturday in The Park  ( want to mix in De La Soul ‘Saturday’ drum sample.  May be a cool DJ drum moment)

Beginnings

Make Me Smile

I’m a Man

 

Also thinking about how to fit in Introduction & Feeling Stronger Everyday possibly as the closer.

What day would work for you next week?  I leave Monday the 12th.  

Much love from LA

Michelle Sinclair

www.djladysinclair.com

 

www.hautemobiledisco.com

Posted on September 6, 2016 .

2016 Rock Hall of Fame

Behind the scences

Members!  We did it!  We got those guys recognized for their amazing talents.  What an epic trip and at such a great point in my journey of making the film.  

 Before the show I got a chance to catch up with the band and the Chicago families.  So nice to see them all.

Before the show I got a chance to catch up with the band and the Chicago families.  So nice to see them all.

 I loved the group at my table.  Um, yes! Steve Miller was at my table!  What a nice man.  Danny and our hot dates also sat with Rob Thomas, Cassandra Berns and her brother.

I loved the group at my table.  Um, yes! Steve Miller was at my table!  What a nice man.  Danny and our hot dates also sat with Rob Thomas, Cassandra Berns and her brother.

 I can't even begin to explain the feeling of standing up there and honoring my father.  It is beyond anything I have ever experienced.  I can't believe I deleveried those three sentences so clearly.  

I can't even begin to explain the feeling of standing up there and honoring my father.  It is beyond anything I have ever experienced.  I can't believe I deleveried those three sentences so clearly.  

 Here are those Chicago kids. 

Here are those Chicago kids. 

 I literaly jumped out of my seat when I heard him actually say "the most underated guitarist of all time."  Something I can't wait to hear on HBO, televised to the world.

I literaly jumped out of my seat when I heard him actually say "the most underated guitarist of all time."  Something I can't wait to hear on HBO, televised to the world.

 First time meeting this guy!  

First time meeting this guy!  

Posted on April 12, 2016 .

Today : Audio Mix

The audio mix is a crucial element in this film, for obvious reasons.  I have learned that it is truly an art to mix the various storytelling while still allowing the soundtrack to shine. 

 

Meet Mike From Kill The Mess audio mix house.  Today was the first time I heard out film sound mixed and it was so good.  It is super exciting to hear the music come to life.

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Posted on March 29, 2016 .

Last shoot day

 
  Film Fun Fact  : The first ever day of filming was a concept shoot at Forge Studio in Los Angeles which contributed to the teaser for the first Kickstarter campaign.  That last day of filming was six year later at the Forge studios for b-roll in the film.  

Film Fun Fact : The first ever day of filming was a concept shoot at Forge Studio in Los Angeles which contributed to the teaser for the first Kickstarter campaign.  That last day of filming was six year later at the Forge studios for b-roll in the film.  

 

Hello Members!

 

Even though I am a first time documentary film maker I knew from the beginning that there were certain elements that I wanted to include in the film.  One of the elements I went on about was the 'studio shoot'.  In the teaser reel for the first Kickstarter campaign, we filmed some concept ideas for my 'studio shoot'.  (PS. I edited that thing after teaching myself how to use final cut through youtube videos).  

Some of my most favorite documentaries have a lot to look at which means you don't see the talking heads that much.  As we shot interviews I would often mention what the 'studio shoot' would be for that moment.  It got to the point where Tony and Jordan would say, "enough with this ominous studio shoot" because they didn't quite understand what I wanted out of it yet. Finally, when we had our first string out of the film, I was able to put together actual concepts and trouble shoot them with the team.  

Certain concepts were completely out of the question, such as reenactments and filming a record spinning on a record player.  Also, filming the guitars was a must, so that lead to motorized turntables and rigging.  Once we got lighting, props and the wonderful Forge Studio lined up we were good to go.  

 

Posted on March 16, 2016 .

There's a symphony in me somewhere...

This is a clip from one of my most favorite articles I came across in my hunting.  First, of course, I love the fact that my mom is in it (isn't she just so hot!).  Second, the way they go into the interview really takes you into the moment.  Like you are sitting with him.  

Enjoy the article and don't forget to enter the sweepstakes.  

Posted on March 7, 2016 .

Let's Play Ball

I love this photo.  

 
 

When I look at this picture I am reminded of the journey I took and the folks I met.  There are only four guys in this photo I didn't have the pleasure of interviewing.  This photo was given to me by one of my favorite people, whom I first met the day I interviewed him, Jerry Vaccarino.  (He is pictured here in the yellow Chicago shirt).  Jerry's interview was the first one that truly took my breath away and gave me chills down my spin.  He was a true friend of my Dad's and loved him very much.

Sharing a story that was cut from the film:

In the film, Jerry tells a story about how he and my Dad crashed my Dad's new green Porsche.  As you many know, my father loved his cars and motorcycles.  Later, when Jerry was having a hard time, my Dad stopped by his house and put a set of keys in his hand, telling Jerry that the newly remodeled green Porsche was for him.  Jerry protested, saying he couldn't take such a gift, but my Dad told him he wanted a new one anyway and had already bought it.  Jerry thinks he just told him that so he would take the car.  With tears in his eyes, Jerry told me that this was just the kind guy my Dad was.  Generous to a fault and kind to those he loved.

Happy Friday Members

Michelle

 

Posted on February 26, 2016 .