Out of the Windy City

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Story by Wendy Rhodes


It is unlikely that anyone over 30 has ever fallen in love or suffered a heartbreak without Peter Cetera singing soulfully in the background.

A prolific singer, songwriter and bass player, Cetera is best known for tapping into the deep, raw emotions of both love and loss, and will bring favorites such as “Glory of Love,” “Hard Habit to Break,” “You’re the Inspiration,” “The Next Time I Fall,” and “After All” to the Pompano Beach Amphitheater on October 29.

Cetera rose to fame in 1969 with the rock band Chicago, which ranks No. 15 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Top 100 Artists, producing an endless stream of hits like “25 or 6 to 4,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “If You Leave Me Now,” and “Saturday in the Park.”

Hailing from Chicago’s south side, Cetera was poised to become a priest before cementing his place in history with the rock band Chicago. But music had a strong hold on the young Cetera, and he left the seminary after a short stay to follow the dream that has led to countless chart-topping songs, a Grammy, two American Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Creative differences resulted in tensions within the band, and Cetera was a notorious no-show for Chicago’s induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2016. While Cetera has said he cannot predict the possibility of a Chicago reunion, his current tour offers fans a sampling of a discography spanning 50 years.

“This isn’t a Chicago tribute by any means,” he says. “If anything it’s a Peter Cetera tribute. I do the songs I wrote, sang and recorded both with Chicago and in my solo career.”

Cetera has duetted with a plethora of well-known artists, including Billy Joel, Karen Carpenter, Amy Grant, Chaka Khan, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and Cher, but it is the marketing of his duet with Madonna that he both remembers, and regrets, the most.

“I actually had Madonna come in and sing a part on one of my songs called ‘Scheherazade,’” Cetera recalls. “In my silliness, I thought it was kind of cheating to mention her name because she was so hot at the time. So I used her travel name that she used to use to check into hotels — Lulu Smith. I regret it to this day because it certainly would have helped my sales had people known that.”

Despite the song not reaching the echelon that so many of Cetera’s other duets achieved, he would not trade the experience of working with Madonna for anything.

“You can never tell what somebody’s going to be like, and when you’re singing — that’s when it all comes out, because there’s nothing quite like being in the studio,” he says. “She was fun. She came by herself. No entourage. Not what people think, maybe.”

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At 72, Cetera has countless fan stories, including a frustrating photograph that was splashed all over the internet of him exiting an outdoor portable toilet. But a recent incident with an inebriated mother and baby during a live concert shook him up more than usual.

“All of a sudden I look down and this lady is holding her little daughter up and trying to shove her on stage,” he says. “This poor little kid was terrified, and I thought the lady was going to drop the kid. I picked the kid up and turned it around to the audience and continued singing and tried to gently give her back down to her mom. After the song, I didn’t know what to do. Should I smile at the lady or should I call the cops?”

Outside the craziness of touring, Cetera lives a quiet life in Ketchum, Idaho, where he likes to play basketball, snowboard and cross-country ski. And, unlike many stars, stay away from trouble.

“As much as I love singing, and as much as I love music, I’m pretty private, and that’s what’s sort of kept me out of the limelight all these years,” he says.

While fans have not seen a solo album from Cetera since 2004, he will not rule out doing another one.

“I would love to do another album or two or three,” he says. “But it’s a different world. It’s very hard to do one the way it used to be done. There’s not very many record companies out there anymore. Everything is online and I just don’t do that. I don’t know how to do it. I guess I’ll leave that to the young.”

Peter Cetera at 8:00 p.m. on October 29 at Pompano Beach Amphitheater, 1801 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach, 33060. Tickets range from $40-$100 plus fees. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com.