Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bill Champlin - A Musical Thank You Note

I've had this on my mind for some time and perhaps it takes the sad and tragic passing of people like Bob Welch or football great Junior Seau to make you appreciate the truly talented people that you have crossed paths with if only for a brief moment in time.

I first heard Bill Champlin sing "Isn't She Lovely" on the Lee Ritenour recording Captain Fingers. It was like being handed the musical keys to the kingdom. My musical epiphany, well that and my first Sonny Rollins record. After years of following Chicago upon his membership and performing locally and regionally myself with various jazz acts, I decided to follow corporate America. Life is a series of choices. Wrong gig. Wrong woman. Story of my life.

Bill Champin was my first interview here. Champin was kind, gracious and offered the best advice in the world - find where you want to be and get there. Now the Welch reference is in no way saying Bill Champlin lived the same sort of life style. The similarity between Champlin and Welch is in their departure from their respective bands and the potential crime against music if Bill Champlin does not make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sorry Chicago fans but truth can be a fickle bitch. Chicago is now and has been their own tribute band for at least a decade. Replacement players are now showing up in the horn section and they are simply not worth the price of admission. I can name a half dozen better horn sections but that takes away from Champlin's legendary accomplishments with the group. Champin's integrity and his superior skills could have alienated himself from the band - I don't know but if you did not see the split coming you were not looking close enough. No Place Left To Fall is the most recent solo release and had Chicago recorded only half the songs from this release they would have been something more than the headline act on the geezers of rock tour 2011 with America and another band or two whose regular list price for releases is probably less than 9.99. Hey, if you want the best you gotta pay for it. The last tour for Chicago was in support of a Christmas release that stiffed faster than "Hope And Change." Is Chicago musically better off now than they were 3 years ago?

In all likely hood the powers that be within the band will keep him out of the Hall of Fame much like Bob Welch and much like Welch - Champlin is/was and will forever be tied to bringing the corpse of a band left for dead back to life. In a conversation with Bill a little over a year ago he indicated he had little interest in showing up for the ceremonies and less interest in even engaging the current members in conversation. Champlin hedges at times occasionally stating it was a mutual decision and at other times stating he was contacted via email and told his services were no longer needed. Champlin may have been working on some solo projects as a side gig and perhaps he felt he had to. One will never know for sure. But if it walks like a duck...

Bill Champlin, Pete Cetera and Danny Seraphine to be left out in the cold is a crime against music.

But then again to charge over twenty bucks a head for replacement players comes with its own set of issues.

Bill - From the bottom of my musical heart thank you for all the good work you have done and will continue to do. You are blessed with a special gift, a loving family and friends that adore you.

Keep up the fine work and simply...Thank you!