I was born in Brooklyn, New York. New York City resonates within me, always.
I was drawn to music, as my parents listened to the music of their generation, jazz and Broadway musicals.
Later, I was enrolled in a good choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. This exposed me to some of the great sacred music from the Middle Ages, right up through Bach and into some of the 20th Century composers. This was also the dawn of Rock.
I spent my teen years in Chicago, where I studied art in high school, particularly drawing and painting. Also played in rock bands, and so, changed direction at college by entering the music program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, studying music theory and composition.
I listened closely to Ray Charles, and noticed he was writing much of his early repertoire. Then, the Beatles arrived, also composing their music. I discovered Miles Davis/Gil Evans…and by the mid 60’s, I was completely amazed by Antonio Carlos Jobim’s writing.
Early in 1967, out of nowhere, came a telephone call, inviting me to join a band that would become “Chicago”. This new venture allowed me to write songs and teach myself to arrange horns for my songs. Experimenting constantly. While I enjoy playing and singing, I realized it was composing that would always be my primary interest.
Regarding my role in Chicago’s early success, it seems no coincidence that 7 of the 12 songs on the band’s debut album were among my first compositions and vocals. I was, in some ways, a victim of our ‘faceless’ status. Individually, the singers/songwriters within the band rarely received the recognition they perhaps deserved. It is gratifying that in 2014 the album “Chicago Transit Authority” was voted into the Grammy© Hall of Fame.
I understand there would be no ‘Robert Lamm’ without Chicago. Being a part of a band with its ethic, and its willingness to embrace each others’ musical path, has been a rare blessing. Because of what we do, (perform and record music) there has been mutual enjoyment, shared experiences, satisfaction, disappointment, amusement, the acquisition of a bit of maturity and something like wisdom.
I am a loner by nature and very comfortable with it. I am an observer and a listener. The thrust of my fulfillment is derived from the writing, arranging, producing and recording of my songs. I have absorbed lessons from great producers like James Guercio, Phil Ramone, Bruce Fairbairn, Tom Dowd, and David Foster.
In the 80’s I drifted into a period of personal and professional frustration. I relocated to NYC in 1991 with new energy and began working on a solo project, “Life is Good in My Neighborhood”. Soon followed by: “In My Head”, “Too Many Voices”, “Subtlety & Passion”, “The Bossa Project”, “Living Proof”, “Like a Brother” (BeckleyLammWilson). and “Robert Lamm Songs: JVE ReMixes”. I found that solo work brings interaction with a wide range of musicians, an experience which I treasure. I have learned to trust my instincts in the studio.
Visit robertlammsolo.com to learn more about Robert Lamm and his library of solo projects.
Heres' the thing.
The band is down to 3 of the original 6. ( or 7, if we are counting the actual band on record, the band that recorded a dozen or so albums, sold millions, sold out coliseums and ballparks.)
The existing group now has gradually increased in number to 9. The remaining 6 are good enough, even excellent, musicians ... but they don't, and probably cannot ever, have the level of enthusiasm or commitment to the idea and unconscious manifesto of the original band.
Over the last few years, we managed to record what may have been our last album, released July 2014. It took varying degrees of effort, and personal motivation. Immodestly, I peppered the project with 7 of the 11 tracks, determined to get those particular songs documented. As satisfying as this was, I realized soon enough, that what I was doing was completely irrelevant to what the perception of the band's oeuvre had become. (We only performed 2 of these new songs in the aftermath.)
It is the ballads.
. . . that began becoming mega hits starting as early as 1976.
We are just ending a short group of concerts in Asia where the 2 x 4 across my head, once and for all, has convinced me that my voice, my vision, my ideas, my compositions, have not been the strength of the band's success. Not quite full venues where we played 30 +- of our hits, and the audiences only erupted when we played big 80's ballads. That would be maybe 4-5 songs (If we ever tour Asia again, we'll be adding another 5 power ballads to the show and jettisoning the rest, IMO).