Peter Cetera‘s on-again, off-again involvement in Chicago‘s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is now back in the off position, effectively turning the band into this year’s version of Kiss, Guns N’ Roses and other inductees plagued with personal (and personnel) drama.
The group’s original singer and bassist — who left Chicago in 1985 — has posted a copy of a note he sent to Rock Hall Foundation chief Joel Peresman and induction ceremony producer Alex Coletti on his website that reverses previous statements that he was willing to play with the band on April 8 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Cetera writes that, “Unfortunately this scenario doesn’t work for me. I know we all did our best to make it happen, but I guess it’s just not meant to be. Personally I’m frustrated and tired of dealing with this and it’s time to move on. I have a life with two beautiful daughters and a solo career and its time to get back and give them the full attention they deserve. Thanks for all your help and consideration! Have a great show and please send any individual award I receive to the contact you have for me.” The note does not specify what the “scenario” was for the show.
Cetera’s post is the latest in a dramatic series of events surrounding his role in the induction. Singer-keyboardist Robert Lamm said in December that Cetera and founding drummer Danny Seraphine would be attending and performing at the ceremony, only to be corrected by Cetera. Lamm subsequently apologized for being premature, and in January, Cetera posted a letter on his website saying he was willing to perform “25 or 6 to 4” that night, also suggesting that all of Chicago’s living members, past and present, be invited to play the song.
“I have to tell you… it’s so weird,” Lamm told Billboard last week, before Cetera’s latest missive. “I honestly don’t know if he’s going to be there. I don’t know what’s gonna happen, if it’s gonna happen. I don’t even know if our band is going to play. I don’t know if it’s going be a house band or Paul Shaffer playing. I have no idea. It’ll all be worked out, I’m sure, but as to what I know now, it’s very little.”
Lamm was communicating with Cetera by email and said “there was always a desire and assumption on my part” that Cetera would be there and perform during the ceremony. But Cetera apparently had other ideas. “He decided he wanted to play [the song] in a different key if he was going to play with us, which is definitely not going to happen, and then he wanted to play with his band but not with us and sing his songs or sing whatever songs the Hall wants him to sing,” Lamm said. “It’s all very strange.”
Seraphine, who left Chicago in 1990, has not been heard from publicly. But Lamm said, “Danny and Peter are connected to the hip, so whatever happens with Peter will happen with Danny.” Lamm said he did speak with Michelle Kath, daughter of Chicago’s late founding guitarist Terry Kath, but more about the documentary she’s making about her father than the Rock Hall induction.
Despite the turmoil, Lamm said he and remaining co-founders Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider are looking forward to the festivities. “After being passed over for so long, we just sort of put it out of our mind and didn’t expect it to ever happen,” he said. “So to finally sort of break through just kind of made us stop and just be grateful and remember to be gracious.”