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12. Chicago

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Had we done this list with the criteria of chart success, Chicago would have easily been in our top ten. Having charted over multiple decades, Chicago has enjoyed a devoted following that few on this list can match. One has to wonder if the band was a little flashier, and the fans a little louder if it would not come as such a great shock as to the average music fan as to just how successful they were.

Chicago blended Jazz, Blues, Rock and Pop that combined with a rich assortment of horns created a melodic sound that reached mass audiences.   Although it was a successful style, the critics never seemed to respect them, despite the obvious technical talents they had.  In terms of seeking induction to Cleveland, Chicago developed a more Adult Contemporary style in the 80’s which although successful was even more critically disliked than before.  Despite their large fan base and Billboard success, there is a good chance that they could remain the most successful group of musicians to never gain enshrinement.



The Bullet Points:

Previous Rank:

2010: #20 


Eligible Since:



Country of Origin:

U.S.A. (Chicago, IL)


Why They Will Get In:    

Their extensive body of work has a large contingent of fans. 


Why They Won’t Get In:

Could this be another Jann Wenner snub?


Nominated In:



Essential Albums:

The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)

Chicago II (1970)

Chicago VII (1974)

Chicago X (1976)


Our Five Favorite Songs as Chosen by Each Member of the NIHOF Committee:

Beginnings (From The Chicago Transit Authority, 1969)

Questions 67 or 68 (From The Chicago Transit Authority, 1969)

25 or 6 to 4 (From Chicago II, 1970)

If You Leave Me Now (From Chicago X, 1976)

Baby, What a Big Surprise (From Chicago XI, 1977)




Should Chicago be in the Hall of Fame?

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Definitely put them in! - 63.4%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 12.2%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 2.4%
No opinion. - 2.4%
No way! - 19.5%

Last modified on Friday, 16 January 2015 10:05


+1 #11 Lane 2013-10-16 14:37
Quoting Sonny Knight:
Perhaps the death of Terry Kath and Chicago's constant changes in band members is partly to blame. The theory that banda with horns are contrary to R&R standards. Not flashy enough? Don't tell that to James Pankow. Then again, he plays trombone.

I'd say it's more due to the fact that they never had a "face" - their logo is far more recognizable than any person in the band. This was intentional at the time, but has proven to be a double-edged sword.

With the exception of Peter Cetera, would anyone who wasn't a Chicago die hard recognize the rest of the band if they walked past them on the street?
+11 #12 Mickey Boyle 2014-01-30 23:20
With the refusal of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to recognize one of the greatest R&R bands of all time Chicago, I will always consider the organization a farce. Politics - Bull; "inappropriate horn section" - Bull; these guys are really a jazz band - Bull (play 25 or 6 to 4 only once and you will be full of crap to say that wasn't rock and roll and one of the greatest rock performances of all time. 45 years of existence will cause turnover for any group, and who says that Robert Lamm doesn't deserve to be considered the "face" of the group. All of the arguments I have heard over the years are all crap. I don't know what politics exist but to keep them out, as well as the Doobie Brothers, makes the Hall irrelevant with these two bands still entertaining people after all these years. Whoever runs the establishment is a moron.
0 #13 Carl Hardy 2014-06-30 15:31
You really are kidding? Chicago is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Once again the R&RHF is out of touch with the true roots of great rock and roll. Chicago meshed rock with brass and made it work. No other band has done that mix as successfully as Chicago. They are a magical mixture of rock and jazz. But then again let us look at the source. Rolling Stone magazine did not give any LOVE to Chicago. I suppose they won't give them any LOVE here either. Like I have said many times Rolling Stone should have NO say as to who gets in the RRHF. Rolling Stone should get out of reviewing or writing about Rock & Roll. They are out ot touch.
+1 #14 ews1707e 2014-10-03 14:13
Fans have been complaining loudly for years. The hea of the HoF is also the head of Rolling Stone & he never liked the band.
-1 #15 Kevin in Toronto 2014-10-11 21:30
It is an absolute travesty that Chicago is not in the RRHOF. It blows my mind. 17 platinum+ albums, 19 top 10 singles, 50 top 100 singles. Utilized almost every instrument under the sun. Were probably the most successful rock/jazz fusion group in musical history. There is absolutely nothing credible that should have or will keep them from achieving HOF membership. I hold out hope - Hall & Oates only got in last year and they are arguably the most successful duo of all time.
0 #16 Jennifer Smith 2014-10-17 21:51
Inexcusable. Shame on the HOF.
-1 #17 Kenny Herbert 2014-10-19 11:37
Chicago's founding members were inspired by the Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life," deciding "THAT'S what we want to do!" So the "non-rock/jazz" arguments against them are BS. (And as noted above, "25 or 6 to 4" DESTROYS that argument.) Yes, Chicago changed to adult contemporary after Kath died, but they still had a solid ten-album discography by then (including four double albums and a four-album live set), or more than most groups released in their entire careers, along with a dozen mostly still known top 10 singles.

Unlike many NIHOF bands, Chicago doesn't have a single monster hit that everyone identifies them with (e.g., Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water). Ask a dozen Chicago fans their most identifiable hit, and you'll probably get five or six different answers: Saturday in the Park, 25 or 6 to 4, Beginnings, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Color My World, Feeling Stronger Every Day, etc. Chicago should be in the HOF. Period.
-1 #18 Eskimo 2014-12-23 14:18
I believe that the original R&R HOF was designed to honor and promote Rock n' Roll musicians who's music inspired, influenced, propelled and expanded the boundaries of Rock n' Roll. You can see this in the many non-actual rock acts that were inducted such as the blues musicians including Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Bobby Darin, Lavern Baker, Johnny Cash, Etta James, Brenda Lee and Abba...
So where does Chicago fall into this scheme? I believe that they were/are a solid rock band that incorporated Jazz influences that indeed did influence, propelled and expanded the boundaries of Rock n' Roll. They should've been voted into the R&R HOF in 1994. End of story! Their day will come...and a glorious one it will be.
-1 #19 diggitee 2015-02-09 20:59
I think Chicago should be in I mean damn 1967 and still going is enough.I also think Boston should be in as well

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