My first read of 2019 is the autobiographical story of Chicago founding member/drummer Danny Seraphine.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It has been no secret for the last five or so years that I’m a fan of Chicago, though I’ve been listening to their music for at least the last 30 years. Since seeing them in concert in 2015, my interest in them only piqued, and I’ve obtained their albums, watched their concerts (thanks YouTube), and am even going to see them for a second time this coming April. Anything I can find to watch, listen to, or read, I’ve tried to do.
In early 2017, I saw the documentary Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago, and heard the story from humble beginnings to stardom, tragedy, struggles, infighting, and re-emerging back into fame. Quite a story for two hours, let me tell you. But it was their story. After seeing it, I found out that Danny Seraphine (Chicago’s original drummer/founding member) had written a book about his life and times as Chicago’s drummer, a spot he held from 1967 until 1990, when he was unceremoniously kicked out of the group. Of course, I was interested, but it was two years (and a backlog of books) before I could get to this one.
Street Player: My Chicago Story is Seraphine’s story – from beginnings in New Little Italy to getting his start drumming, his colorful teenage life, and leaving behind an uncertain future created as a teenager to join several bands, all leading up to the one that became his life’s work, and beyond that life, into the present.
It’s quite a story, and Danny’s telling of it is quite interesting. He’s done a few things he is clearly not proud of, but what he is proud of is the legacy he helped pave as one of the founding members of Chicago. His story takes quite a few turns, but it never wavers in how interesting it is.
I loved Danny Seraphine’s storytelling – he is quite colorful in his language and descriptions of his life and times. He doesn’t hold anything back, and it makes for an interesting – and at times, intense – story of a man’s rise from practicing drums in the basement to making a career out of drumming. His recent successes in business came out of his willingness to protect Chicago after what turned out to be years of exploitation by their early management (that story wasn’t new to me – he talked about it in the documentary).
I highly recommend Street Player: My Chicago Story if you like music history, or are a fan of Chicago. This is a fun read.
(The title, by the way, is the infamous bomb of a song Seraphine wrote – and Chicago recorded – right at the death throes of Disco.)
Now, if Seraphine were to ever allow movie rights for his story, I’d be all for seeing that…