Hailing from the Dunning neighborhood of northwest Chicago, Danny Seraphine became a founding member and a vital part of Chicago, the world-renowned American rock band. According to Billboard, Chicago was one of the world’s best-selling groups of all time, having sold more than 130 million albums.
His affinity for playing the drums was evident by age 9, as he aspired to be like his uncle who played drums at family events. A self-described Type A personality, he dropped out of high school at age 15 and turned to studying privately with percussionist Bob Tilles at DePaul University. It was there, under the tutelage of Tilles, that Seraphine developed his technique and style.
Seraphine was quoted in Drummerworld as saying, "To be a good drummer, one must develop his own technique. Good timing and good taste is essential, but it is the technique that sets the truly great drummers apart from the rest."
In the late 1960s the seven-member band played under the name Chicago Transit Authority until threatened by legal action by the actual Chicago Transit Authority, at which time they shortened the name to Chicago. With egos boosted by the enthusiastic support of Jimi Hendrix and approval by his hero Buddy Rich, Seraphine’s career was underway. While still Chicago Transit Authority, the band traveled with Jimi Hendrix, opening for him on a number of gigs. The band also opened for Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin and The Beach Boys.
Seraphine was the legendary drummer with Chicago for 23 years. The band earned 22 gold, 18 platinum and 8 multi-platinum albums in the United States. Seraphine’s final album with the group was Chicago 19.
The band was often referred to as being “faceless” because the image of the Chicago logo was better known than any of the individual members of the band.
As part of the group, Seraphine began recording albums in 1969. He co-wrote several songs: “Lowdown,” “Prelude to Aire,” “Aire,” “Devil’s Sweet,” “Little One, “Take Me Back to Chicago,” “Show me the Way,” “Birthday Boy,” and “Street Player.” Seraphine played with Chicago until 1990.
Rolling Stone Magazine has ranked Danny Seraphine as one of the top 100 drummers of all time. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cape Breton Drum Festival in 2010, followed by another Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 at the Montreal Drum Festival. He and other members of the band were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a former member of Chicago, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 where he reunited with former band members after 26 years.
Seraphine lived in and around Evergreen for 12 years starting in the 1980s. After his break with Chicago, he enjoyed a more low-key lifestyle – skiing and fly-fishing in Colorado but missed playing with a band. He had a business called Street Sense, a production company where he identified unknown talent and worked with them to place them with independent record companies.
He's also been involved with numerous musical and theatrical endeavors, including producing and seeking investors for Broadway shows.
Since 2006 he’s been part of the California Transit Authority, a band he co-founded for the purpose of playing for charitable events. The group has since recorded albums. Seraphine was an executive producer and music supervisor for the film “Lonely Street.”
In 2010 he wrote and published his autobiography Street Player: My Chicago Story.
For a YouTube video of Chicago in 1973, click here.
Sources: dannyseraphine.com; Anne Carlini - Exclusive Magazine; MusicWorld.com; Wikipedia; Drummerworld; effingham.com; kdvr.com; lmbd.com; RockCellar Magasine; broadwayworld.com