Peter Paul Cetera (born , 1944, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.) is an American singer, songwriter, bass guitar player and producer best known for being an original member of the rock band Chicago, before launching a successful solo career. As a solo artist Cetera has scored five top forty singles, including two that reached number 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
Cetera (pronounced ) was born the second of six children to a Polish-American father and a Hungarian-American mother on the South Side of Chicago. He wanted a guitar but his parents instead bought him an accordion at 11 years old. 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 bass guitar, 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 Midwestern United States in the mid 1960s, releasing two albums and several singles.
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 its name to The Chicago Transit Authority (and eventually shortened it to Chicago after complaints by the actual CTA), released their self-titled debut album The Chicago Transit Authority on Columbia Records in 1969. Cetera sang lead vocal on three of the eleven songs on the album, with his tenor voice complementing the baritone voices of the two other lead singers in the group, keyboardist Robert Lamm and guitarist Terry Kath.
His 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.
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 hits "Wishing You Were Here" (#11) and "Happy Man" from the 1974 album Chicago VII.
His biggest singing and songwriting accomplishment with Chicago came in 1976 with their first worldwide No. 1 single, the ballad "If You Leave Me Now." Cetera's next composition in 1977, "Baby, What A Big Surprise" (#4), also became a major hit and cemented the band's status in the late 1970s as a "ballad band."
By the end of the 1970s, with the rise of disco music, Chicago's popularity declined, culminating in the release of the band's least selling album Chicago XIV (#71) in 1980. Columbia Records subsequently bought out the remainder of Chicago's contract.
Peter Cetera, his first solo album, released in 1981
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 was, subsequently, 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.
In 1982, David Foster was brought in as producer and the resulting group effort was Chicago 16 (#9). The album represented a major comeback for Chicago, and leading the way was the hit single co-written (with Foster) and featured Cetera on lead vocals, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," which went to #1 in the charts. The second single, "Love Me Tomorrow," was also co-written (again with Foster) and sung by Cetera, reaching No. 22 on the singles 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 7 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 20: "Stay the Night" (#16), "Hard Habit to Break" (#3), "You're the Inspiration" (#3) and "Along Comes a Woman" (#14).
With the advent of the music video and the growing popularity of MTV, Cetera became the 'face' and public leader of the longtime 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 work on the next Chicago album. Cetera insisted that they take a break from touring so that he could concentrate on a solo album and spend more time with his family.
After the band rejected his offer to stay in the band while recording a solo album (similar to the arrangement between Phil Collins and Genesis at the time), it was announced that Cetera and Chicago would go their separate ways in July 1985.
Almost immediately, Cetera continued his streak of success. His first single, "Glory of Love" (the theme to the movie The Karate Kid, Part II), was a US No. 1 hit in 1986, and achieved similar success throughout the world. It went on to win an ASCAP Award for Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures and a BMI Film & TV Award for Most Performed Song from a Film. It was also nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in the category of Best Original Song, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Male Artist.
Peter Cetera's first solo single after parting ways with Chicago, "Glory of Love," went to No. 1 in 1986
His album, Solitude/Solitaire, released in 1986, was also successful, selling over 1 million copies and producing another No. 1 hit single, "The Next Time I Fall," a duet with Amy Grant, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In fact, Solitude/Solitaire outsold Chicago 18 (#35), the first Chicago album without him.
His third solo album, One More Story, was released in 1988 and contained the No. 4 hit single "One Good Woman" and "Save Me," the original opening theme for the television show Baywatch.
In 1988 he recorded another duet, this time with Madonna. The song, "Sheherazade" was included on his album.
In 1989, Cetera recorded another duet, this time with Cher, called "After All," which was included on the soundtrack of the movie Chances Are. It reached #6 on the US charts.
In 1992, his final album on Warner Bros. Records, World Falling Down, was released. It featured the Adult Contemporary #1 hit, "Restless Heart," as well as two other successful singles: "Even a Fool Can See" and a duet with Chaka Khan, "Feels Like Heaven."
In 1995, Cetera released his first album for River North Records, One Clear Voice, and featured the hit single, "(I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight," a duet with actress Crystal Bernard. 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.
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, and two brand new recordings.
2001 saw the release of Another Perfect World.
In 2002, Cetera performed a medley of four of his songs at The Concert for World Children's Day, backed by David Foster and an orchestra at Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. Subsequently, this led to his appearance, in 2003, with the Chicago Pops Orchestra on the PBS music program Soundstage, which was broadcast throughout the United States and released on DVD.
From 2003 until the summer of 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 2004, Cetera released a collection of holiday classics, You Just Gotta Love Christmas, which featured background and duet vocals by his eldest daughter, Claire.
On , 2007, Cetera sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs game that was televised on WGN-TV and again on , 2009 on Comcast Sports Net.
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.
Other musical contributions
Over the years, Cetera has contributed as a singer, producer, bass guitar player and songwriter for numerous artists.
When he was 22 years old in 1966, Cetera played bass guitar on Chicago folk singer and songwriter Dick Campbell's album Dick Campbell Sings Where It's At.
In 1976, Cetera performed background vocals on "Hurly Burly," the lead song on rock band Angelo's self-titled debut album.
In 1977, Cetera provided vocals on Beached, an album by Ricci Martin (the son of Dean Martin), and produced by Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys.
In 1978, Cetera sang background vocals on Billy Joel's song, "My Life," from Joel's 52nd Street album.
In 1979, Cetera wrote and sang a duet with Karen Carpenter, "Making Love In The Afternoon," for her only solo album, which was not released until 1996.
In 1983, he sang on "Hold Me 'Til The Morning Comes" with vocalist and songwriter Paul Anka, a song produced by David Foster.
In 1984, Cetera sang a duet with Japanese singer Naoko Kawai entitled "Love Assistant." The song appeared on her album Daydream Coast, which was recorded in Los Angeles.
In 1987, Cetera produced Swedish former ABBA member Agnetha F?Īltskog's third English-language album, I Stand Alone, in Los Angeles. He co-wrote the title track (with Bruce Gaitsch) and sang a duet on "I Wasn't the One (Who Said Goodbye)." The song peaked at No. 93 on Billboard Hot 100 and became a No. 19 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
In 1991, he co-wrote (with David Foster and Linda Thompson) and sang on "Voices That Care," a song and supporting documentary music video intended to help boost the morale of American troops involved in Operation Desert Storm, as well as supporting the International Red Cross organization. The single reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales, No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, and No. 6 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.
In 1996, Cetera provided background vocals on "God's Perfect Plan," a song on Janey Clewer's album Call Me Romantic.
In 1997, Cetera performed on Philadelphia R&B group Az Yet's remake of his 1982 Chicago song, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." The single reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and achieved platinum status.
In 1998, Cetera served as the producer and background vocalist for country singer Ronna Reeves' first pop album, Day 14. Reeves, a River North Records labelmate of Cetera's at the time, had performed a duet, a cover of ABBA's "SOS," on Cetera's 1995 album One Clear Voice.
In 2002, Cetera contributed to two songs on Amos Galpin's album, Rock N Roll Recidivist, providing harmony vocals on "You'll Go" and playing bass guitar on "Dreaming of Bones."
In 2005, Cetera performed a duet, "Barbados," on former Poco member Paul Cotton's album When the Coast is Clear.
Cetera has appeared in two movies: Electra Glide in Blue, filmed in 1973, where he played the character of Bob Zemko; and Sidney Sheldon's Memories of Midnight, a 1991 television movie made for the USA Network, where he played the role of Larry Douglas.
In 1982, Cetera married Diane Nini, with whom he had his first daughter. Claire, born in 1983, graduated from the University of Southern California in 2006 and is currently an artist, actress, singer and producer living in Los Angeles. She was previously a competitive snowboarder. This was Cetera's second marriage. An earlier marriage to first wife Janice ended in divorce. Cetera and Nini divorced in 1991.
For a period of time, Cetera was brother-in-law to bandmate Robert Lamm, who had maried Diane's sister, Julie. They have since been divorced.
His second daughter, Senna, born in 1997 by an ex-girlfriend, lives in Nashville, where in 2006, she starred in the music video for country singer Josh Turner's song, "Would You Go with Me," which was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart.
Cetera has lived in Sun Valley, Idaho, since the mid-1980s, where he routinely participates in numerous sports, including basketball, mountain biking, soccer, ice hockey and motorcycling.