Peter Cetera is a lot of things to a lot of people. He’s the former lead singer of Chicago, a father to two daughters, and voice behind so many first dance wedding songs.
One thing he is not, is like you or me or most people.
Case in point, this past September, Cetera celebrated his 73rd birthday in a way that can only be described as fantastical and surreal.
“I was in Italy on the night of my birthday. I had my youngest daughter with me and I had a couple of shows in Florence. The night of my birthday I sang with Andrea Boccelli. And so, I had the honor of having Andrea Bocelli, Brooks and Dunn, and Reba [McEntire], who were all there, sing happy birthday to me. It was quite special.”
Perhaps more impressive is that Cetera is still heavily touring in his 70s. Between past dates and upcoming shows, Cetera will grace the stage over two dozen times here in the states and abroad.
“I’m working this year more than I ever have and I’m having a blast. I have great group with me.”
Florida welcomes him back at the end of this month for his second visit this year. On Saturday, October 29th, the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre will host the prolific, Grammy award-winning balladeer.
During one of his many trips south, Cetera recalls once playing outdoors at dog racing track and the unique challenges the gig posed. “Every few minutes, jets flew over from the airport. So I tried to turn it around so it would be a positive thing. I said to the crowd, ‘every time a jet flies over, you guys have to cheers like you’re the happiest campers in the world and you love my music. So every time a jet flew over, I got a standing ovation. It was fabulous.”
Speaking of awards and celebrating his music, Cetera was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his former band, Chicago. However, that was one concert he could not and would not accommodate into his busy schedule.
In the thirty plus years since his “divorce” from Chicago, Cetera has made it painfully clear how happy he is solo and his lack of interest in every rejoining his old outfit. He parted ways with the band in 1985, essentially because management wouldn’t budge on allowing him to work on individual projects, and never looked back, enjoying phenomenal chart and radio success on his own. Over the years he’s been repeatedly approached about a reunion, but always declines, stating that the main reason to do so would be a money grab, something he has no interest in. Still, that won’t stop people from asking.
“I think it’s the same thing that I felt with the Beatles. You grow up loving something and when they break up or do whatever they do, you always blame one side or the other and then you want them to get back together and you don’t understand the ramifications of that.”
Cetera debates the sentiment that perhaps it’s a simple case of people wanting what they can’t have. He supposes it has more to do with the warm comfort of nostalgia.
“I think it’s good memories. I don’t really want to talk too much about this subject because I don’t think many people understand. This whole thing is like a marriage. You know, you’re in love, you get married, everything is peaches and cream. Then you have children and la da da. The children move out of the house and some people go, okay, that’s it for us and you break up.”
Cetera’s metaphor is apt in that once the children (the hit songs he wrote for and with Chicago) flew the coop, it was time to move on for him and staying for the children (or songs) would be akin to staying in a loveless marriage. Worse yet would be getting back together with the band the way one might return to “an ex-wife you had a contentious divorce with.”
Instead, the focus should be on the good times, both his own and the ones fans have drawn from hits such as “Glory of Love” and “You’re the Inspiration.”
“A lot of people through the years have come up to me and said how much this song means to me or that song means to me, or that song was our wedding song. When I started paying attention to that, and I realized how much music means to so many people, it got me re-enthused and that’s why I’m working so much now.”
As for his immediate future, Cetera has no desire to stop touring. As for recording a new album, well, it sounds as if he could use some assistance from 80s music loving millennials and their tech savviness.
“Well, I’d love to. I have a couple of things ready to go. But it’s hard for, I don’t want to say old, I want to say mature artists to find a venue to record. I don’t do this internet thing. I don’t even know what that is and there’s not very many record companies around. We’re kind of stuck in limbo. We’re ready to go, we just need the vehicle to do it with.”
Until then, whether he’s home in Idaho, traveling to Nashville or California to visit his daughters, or being wished a happy birthday by a world famous Italian tenor, Peter Cetera will be adding lots of airline miles and road trip stories to his life.
“I wanna continue on as long as I can continue on. The whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing, as bittersweet as it is, has made people pay attention all of a sudden that weren’t before. So the shows are just twice as fun now. I’m having fun doing it and when I’m out there singing, I’m giving it my all. - Angel Melendez
Peter Cetera will be performing at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater on October 29th. Tickets are available at www.TheAmpPompano.org