Terry Kath

American guitarist and singer (1946–1978) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Terry Alan Kath (January 31, 1946 – January 23, 1978) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter who is best known as a founding member of the rock band Chicago. He played lead guitar and sang lead vocals on many of the band's early hit singles alongside Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera. He has been praised by his bandmates and other musicians for his guitar skills and his Ray Charles–influenced vocal style. Jimi Hendrix cited Terry Kath as one of his favorite guitarists, and considered Kath to be "the best guitarist in the universe".[1][2]

Quick facts: Terry Kath, Background information, Birth nam...
Terry Kath
Kath smiling
Kath in 1969
Background information
Birth nameTerry Alan Kath
Born(1946-01-31)January 31, 1946
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJanuary 23, 1978(1978-01-23) (aged 31)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresRock, hard rock, blues rock, jazz rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
  • guitar
  • bass
  • vocals
Years active1963–1978
Formerly ofChicago
Pamela Robinson
(m. 1970; div. 1975)
Camelia Ortiz

Growing up in a musical family, Kath took up a variety of instruments in his teens, including the drums and banjo. He played bass in a number of bands in the mid-1960s, before settling on the guitar when forming the group that became Chicago. His guitar playing was an important component of the group's sound from the start of their career. He used a number of different guitars, but eventually became identified with a Fender Telecaster fitted with a single neck-position humbucker pickup combined with a bridge position angled single-coil pickup and decorated with numerous stickers.

Kath struggled with health issues and drug abuse towards the end of the 1970s. He died in January 1978 from an unintentional self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The bereavement tempted Chicago to disband, but they ultimately decided to resume as is signified by their memorial song "Alive Again". To commemorate his musicianship, they issued the 1997 album The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath. In 2016, Kath's daughter Michelle Sinclair released the documentary The Terry Kath Experience, which chronicles his life and Chicago's early years.[3]

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