Review: Street Player, My Chicago Story by Danny Seraphine

Quick Note: Just a quick note before we get to the review. Yesterday I was meant to be posting my decision in regards to BA’s Posting Challenge. I got side-tracked! The post will be going up tomorrow now. If you have any feedback or thoughts on the meme you’d like to add, please do so.

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The inside story of Chicago, one of the most successful and enduring rock bands ever.

Street Player: My Chicago Story by Danny Seraphine

With their distinctive blending of soulful rock and horn-infused urban jazz, Chicago has thrilled music fans for more than forty years with their lyrical brilliance. In this no-holds-barred memoir, legendary rocker Danny Seraphine shares his dramatic—and often shocking—experiences as the popular supergroup’s cofounder and longtime drummer. He reveals behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Chicago’s beginnings as the house band at Los Angeles’s legendary Whisky A Go Go, where they were discovered by music icons Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, and personal insights about the group’s many comebacks and reinventions over the years.

  • Offers a lively inside account of the music and history of the perennially popular band Chicago, one of the most successful American bands ever with over 122 million albums sold, by the band’s cofounder and longtime drummer Danny Seraphine
  • Includes riveting tales and rare photographs from Seraphine’s time on the road touring with performers including Dennis and Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen
  • Candidly tackles many rumors about Chicago, including Mafia ties, accounting and payola scandals, and major drug abuse
  • Discusses the mysterious circumstances surrounding Seraphine’s 1990 firing from the band as well as his comeback with his critically acclaimed new band, California Transit Authority

Whether you’re a diehard Chicago fan or just love a well-told rock-and-roll memoir, Street Player will entertain and surprise you.

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While their height of popularity was before my time, I’m well aware of who Chicago is. I’m sure the majority of people, regardless of a love for music, in Western Society would know at least a handful of their songs. What I wasn’t aware of was anything behind their music, such as the members, their roles, conflicts, and lifestyle. I wasn’t aware they became less of a jazz band and began singing love ballads, or they had a horn section. I do know some of their songs when I hear them and I do recognise the Chicago logo. I think it is safe to say it’s hard to miss Chicago with their musical history and contribution to the industry.

I’ve read a few musical memoirs and biographies, but none from the drummer’s point of view. I’m used to lead singers or guitarist, so it was interesting being able to understand more of a drummer’s role besides providing a beat. Chicago’s drummer for the majority of their career, Danny Seraphine, not only was the backbone musically, but placed the band’s interest before his own and delved into the business side of things.

I’m not sure if this was eventually to his detriment or not, but the way he has written his story makes one it appear as though this was the case. It’s hard to know when the story is one-sided and personally wasn’t sympathetic for Danny until the very end of the Street Player. I think analysing your actions only to come up with excuses is not a great way to win sympathy and this is how I read the story.

Attitude aside, it wasn’t difficult to be swept along with Street Player. When I had the time to read, I found myself eating everything up. It wasn’t the prose that got me, but it was Danny’s style of relating to the reader. Relating to the lifestyle isn’t something the majority of readers is going to be prone to do, but Danny has an everyday-person use of language, which is very easy to immerse yourself in.

Street Player would be an excellent read for Chicago and Danny Seraphine fans. There’s a window into the world of Chicago, as well as their vices, attitudes towards music, and the politics of the music industry. It’s a window though, not a nitty-gritty play-by-play, but Street Player gives you a sense of who the members have been as well as the journey of Chicago as an entity.

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