On the cusp of their 50th anniversary, the band Chicago remains as relevant as ever. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band have sold over 100 million records and had an unmatched streak of chart dominance in the 1970s. The band has a documentary titled Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago, which chronicles the group's achievements from their inception in 1967 all the way to the present day. It will air on Jan. 1 on CNN, while you are still recovering the night before and we have an exclusive clip of from the doc. They describe in detail meeting Jimi Hendrix, where the legendary guitarist says that Terry Kath was better than him.
In addition to the minute and a half clip where the band gets emotional talking about two legendary now deceased guitarists, we were able to speak to film director Peter Pardini to talk about making the movie, a wild story about one night of destruction and his own favorite Chicago moments.
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago airs on CNN with limited commercial interruption on CNN at 8 p.m. EST. Watch the short clip exclusively below to get you ready for the two-hour documentary and read our interview with Pardini for more insight into the film.
What was most challenging thing about making documentary?
The most challenging thing was that I was wearing so many different hats. Beyond having my cinematographer John Honoré and our crew (3-4 people), I was pretty much doing everything else. The band tours so much and we tried to keep the budget as low as possible, so I was not only the director and editing in my apartment in LA, but I was transportation, equipment manager, production manager, you name it. This is all incredibly gratifying now that the movie is done, but it got pretty intense while making the movie juggling so much.
In terms of the content of the film, I'd say just trying to tell a 50-year story in a concise way in 2 hours was also a major challenge. Luckily, the guys in the band were the greatest producers because they let me make my film with virtually no pre-conditions.
What was you favorite part about making it?
Working with all of my best friends. I've worked with my cinematographer John Honoré for 10 years since I was 20 years old and we are great friends. I was in his wedding and pretty much everyone on set at any given time is a friend. A college classmate of mine did all the graphics and then my girlfriend Katie was integral in helping me through making the movie for the emotional support. She's also in the film in several recreations. I just feel fortunate that I was able to make this movie with great support from both the band and my friends.
What was a story that got cut, but you still think people should know?
There are great stories from every era of the band. Considering they have toured every year for 50 years, there was a lot that is gone. But I'd have to say the one I like the most is when the band was in their early days. I think they were in a hotel in Canada and this was back in the time of rock bands hanging from hotel lobby chandeliers and destroying hotel rooms, etc. Chicago was not really of that ilk, but one night they decided to cause some trouble and a few of the guys started throwing furniture out the window. Unfortunately, the kitchen was just below the room they were in and a chair they had thrown out broke the main water line in the kitchen.
The guys were called up by their manager saying that the hotel was going to press charges and charge a very large sum of money for damages, and thinking quick, one of the guys told the others to leave the room. Once hotel security got to the room, he had put on a bath robe as well as a pissed off look and started berating the security guy along the lines of: "Is this the type of security your hotel has?! Some crazy person just came into my room while I was sleeping and started destroying it and now they're gone! How are you gonna take care of this?!" The hotel pardoned them of any wrongdoing and it's my favorite story that just couldn't find its way into the movie.
When did you first encounter them or their music and what is your memory of that moment?
I've been listening to Chicago since I was a kid in Fresno, CA. My dad introduced them to me just by default as a great band. My mom says she was a huge fan in high school and Colour My World was played at all the dances, etc. I even used "Saturday in the Park" in a class project in 7th grade, obviously not knowing I'd ever work for them.
I just loved the opening intro of that song and had no idea I'd use it in a legitimate film about the band one day. But the crazy thing is that my uncle (my dad's brother) is an amazing musician and actually joined the band in 2009. This gave me the opportunity to be the band's videographer for a couple years right after I graduated film school. So after working for a few years with them, I proposed the idea of making this documentary and the rest is history.