Who is Peter Cetera?
Peter Cetera is an American singer, songwriter, noted vocalist and bassist who was one of the original members of the rock band ‘Chicago’. He was a member of the band till 1985 before he decided to launch a successful solo career. Cetera wrote and sung “If You Leave Me Now” which helped the group win their first Grammy Award. It was also considered to be group’s first super hit song. As a solo artist, Cetera garnered fame and success for his singles which were also nominated at the Academy and Golden Globe Awards. He has also received ASCAP award in the category of ‘Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures’. Cetera has collaborated with David Foster and Amy Grant for which he was nominated for Grammy Award. In addition to that, he has also collaborated with many internationally and nationally recording artists from different genres of music like Billy Joel, Karen Carpenter, Paul Anka, Az Yet, Cher, Alison Krauss and many more. In 2014, the first album of Cetera’s group ‘Chicago Transit Authority’ was inducted on Grammy Hall of Fame. He is still going strong and is one of inductees for the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Childhood & Early Life
Peter Cetera was born on 13 September 1944 in Morgan Park section of Chicago, Illinois. He is of Polish and Hungarian descent and his father was a machinist.
He has five siblings; one elder and four younger. His two brothers, Tim Cetera and Kenny Cetera, are also musicians and they collaborated with him on some of the recordings he made with his band Chicago, and also on some of his solo recordings.
Peter Cetera went to Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary for one year of high school, and then transferred to Mendel Catholic Prep High School from where he graduated in 1962.
He was interested in music ever since he was a child and once his parents bought him an accordion instead of a guitar. He began his musical journey by taking up electric bass and playing the local dance circuit with some high school friends, which included a drummer, guitarist and saxophone player.
He used to play in various groups in the Chicago area which included a popular local rock band by name ‘The Exceptions’. The band released many singles and an EP titled Rock ‘N’ Roll Mass.
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Peter Cetera started his musical career with ‘The Exceptions’ but when he watched the band ‘The Big Thing’ performing he had a change of mind. Within two weeks, he left ‘The Exceptions’ to join ‘The Big Thing’. Soon ‘The Big Thing’ changed their name to ‘The Chicago Transit Authority’ and gradually shortened it to ‘Chicago’.
In 1969, ‘Chicago’ released their self-titled debut album ‘The Chicago Transit Authority’, on Columbia Records. The next album ‘Chicago’ helped the band to garner fame and popular status all over the world. Its song “25 or 6 to 4” became the first major hit single with Cetera singing lead vocals.
In the 1970s, Cetera contributed with many songs for the group like “Wishing You Were Here”, “Happy Man” in the album ‘Chicago VII’. His biggest singing and songwriting achievement came with the ballad “If You Leave Me Now” in 1976. It became the number one single in United States and was number one on charts worldwide.
The song was certified Gold and Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and also won Grammy Award for ‘Chicago’ in 1977.
In the late 1970s, disco music started to gain popularity due to which Chicago’s popularity started to decline. Cetera released his first solo album ‘Peter Cetera’ in 1981 which was considered to be a commercial flop.
In 1982, the 'Chicago' band came up with their album 'Chicago 16'. The album was a big hit and its song "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
In 1983, he took a break and in 1984 the band came up with their album ‘Chicago 17’. It went on to become the band’s most successful album selling over six million copies in the US alone. Cetera sung all the four singles from the album which gained him popularity and made him the face of the band.
With his growing popularity, Cetera decided to record another solo album. The management of the band and several group members had differences with him which resulted in him leaving the band. Due to this, he left the band to start his solo career.
Peter Cetera’s first single after splitting with the band was ‘Glory of Love’ which was used as the theme song in the film “The Karate Kid Part 2”. It was nominated for Grammy Award, Academy Award and Golden Globe Award.
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In 1986, his second solo album ‘Solitude/Solitaire’ was released which had the song ‘Glory of Love’ in it. The album was successful as it sold more than million copies and was certified Gold and Platinum by the RIAA.
In 1988, he released his third solo album ‘One More Story’ after teaming up with producer Patrick Leonard. The album featured well-known artists like Bonnie Raitt, Richard Sterban, David Gilmour, Madonna and many more.
In 1989, he teamed up with Cher and recorded another duet “After All”. The song became a huge hit and reached number six on US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
In 1992, his album “World Falling Down” was released which featured Adult Contemporary number one hit “Restless Heart” as well as “Even a Fool Can see” and “Feels Like Heaven”.
In 1995, his album ‘One Clear Voice’ was released which featured the single ‘(I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight’.
In 1997, collections of his duets over the years were released in the album ‘You’re the Inspiration: A Collection’. This also included three songs which were re-recorded and written while he was a member of Chicago. In the same year, Az Yet performed vocals with him on his single “You’re the Inspiration” from Chicago 17, and they were also seen together in a music video.
In 2001, he released his seventh solo album ‘Another Perfect World’. In 2002, he performed at The Concert for World Children’s Day a medley of four of his songs.
In December 2007, he started the ‘You Just Gotta Love Christmas’ tour of US. He also sang live with the ‘Cleveland Pops Orchestra’ for Smucker’s Presents Hot Ice, Cool Sounds, which was an event with world-class ice skaters performing to Cetera’s music. The show was telecasted by NBC on December 25, 2008.
In 2010, he was seen in Adult Swim program ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show’ and ‘Great Job!’ Of late, he has formed a band called ‘The Bad Daddies’ which is a seven-piece electric rock band. The band performs original material as well as material from Cetera’s songs and Chicago’s songs.
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Peter Cetera had a successful musical career right from his early years. He has given some major hits for Chicago when he was a part of the band. Some of them include ‘If You Leave Me Now’ which won the band accolades and awards.
As a solo artist, he is best remembered for some of his hits like “Glory of Love” which was a theme song in the famous movie ‘The Karate Kid 2’. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and achieved success all over the world.
In 1996, Cetera’s back-up vocal in Az Yet’s single ‘Hard to Say I’m Sorry’ was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of ‘Best R & B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal’.
Awards & Achievements
Peter Cetera has won tons of awards for his phenomenal music over the years. As a member of ‘Chicago’, he won Grammy Award for “If You Leave Me Now” in the category of ‘Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus’ in 1976.
In 1987 as a solo artist, he won ASCAP Award for “Glory of Love” in the category of ‘Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures’. In 1987, he was awarded American Video Award for Best New Artist.
In 2014 and 2016, Cetera and his band were inducted in Grammy Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, respectively.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1968, Peter Cetera got married to Janice Sheely but their marriage ended in 1973.
In 1982, he married Diane Nini and they had a daughter, Claire, in 1983. Cetera and Nini separated and got divorced in 1991.
Peter Cetera’s second daughter, Senna, was born in 1997 with his the then girlfriend Blythe Weber.
He has been a long-time resident of Ketchum, Idaho and has been living in Idaho since the 1980s.
Apart from music videos, Peter Cetera was seen in two movies: ‘Electra Glide in Blue’ where he played the character of Bob Zemko, and Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Memories of Midnight’ which was a television movie made for USA Network.