Published on Saturday, 11 September 2010 10:59
Something big is happening in Berwyn tomorrow afternoon, bring out one of Chicago's greatest bands and one of Chicago's greatest DJs. Here is a hint:
"I'm a friendly stranger in a black sedan
Won't you hop inside my car.
I got pictures, got candy,
I'm a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star.
I'm your vehicle, baby
I'll take you anywhere you wanna go.
I'm your vehicle, woman,
But I'm not sure you know,
That I love ya,
I need ya,
I want ya,
Got to have you, child...
Great God in heaven, you know I love you."
Those are the opening lyrics to "Vehicle," the monster hit single for Chicago's own rock superstars, The Ides of March. If you can't hear that booming horn section inside your head when just reading those lyrics, there is probably something wrong inside that head of yours.
The Ides of March began in west suburban Berwyn, IL in 1964, first calling themselves The Shon-Dels. They released their first single the following year. In 1966, bassist Bob Bergland was forced to read Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in his high school English class. There was a part of the famous book that stuck in his head: the line where Titus warned Caesar, "beware the Ides of March." Bergland suggest that name to the rest of the band, who liked it. Thus the band changed their name to The Ides of March that year. The Ides released a few more singles with some minimal success. In the late 60's, they added a brass section, just as did another local band around that same time: Chicago Transit Authority (later to be named simply Chicago). With the horn section now beefing up the band's sound, they were able to secure a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1970. They recorded their major label debut & released "Vehicle," which became Warner Bros. fastest selling single ever (at that time). It went on to sell well over a million copies. The single hit #2 on the Billboard charts and the album of the same name hit #55. Their follow-up album in 1971 featured the single "LA Goodbye," a #1 hit in Chicago and a #73 hit on the national Billboard chart. The band released two more albums after that, before splitting up in November 1973. Their final performance was played back where it all started, at Morton West High School in Berwyn.
The Ides of March reunited in 1990 with the full 1970 line-up, agreeing to play Berwyn's annual "Summerfest" that year. Over 20,000 fans turned out to see this huge show, which reignited the fire inside the band members. The Ides have been rocking Chicagoland ever since. Their first album of all-new material was released earlier this year.
The driving force behind the band is lyricist and Berwyn native, Jim Peterik. In addition to his work with The Ides of March, he also formed the hugely successful 80's band, Survivor, writing all of their biggest hits. He has also written or co-written hits for .38 Special, Sammy Hagar, Brian Wilson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon and many others. Always busy, Peterik has formed and played with numerous bands, ranging from hard rock to smooth jazz.
Peterik's first big smash, "Vehicle," may be the one song he will be most remembered for. The song was given new life back in 2005, when American Idol fan-favorite, Bo Bice sang the song three times on the show.
Tomorrow, Sunday, September 12th, the City of Berwyn will be honoring these favorite rock & roll sons of theirs. A section of Home Avenue in Berwyn is being renamed as "Ides of March Way." The street is right in front of their alma mater, Berwyn's Morton West High School, where it all began for the band in the 60's - and (temporarily) ended for them in the 70's. The new sign will be placed at the corner of Home & Riverside Avenues.
The ceremony dedicating the renaming of the street and the unveiling of the "Ides of March Way" street sign begins at 4:00pm at the Morton West High School Auditorium, located at 2400 Home Avenue in Berwyn.
The entire band will be at the ceremony, which will also feature guest speakers, including: Robert Lovero, Berwyn's Mayor, Joanne Zendol & Joseph Keating from Berwyn's school districts, and Father Dan Mayall, the Pastor of Holy Name Cathedral.
One very special guest speaker will be none other that Chicago radio's living legend, Dick Biondi from WLS-FM. Jim Peterik was by Dick Biondi's side when "Dick Biondi Way"
was dedicated in downtown Chicago on June 29th. He and the Ides also participated in Dick Biondi's 50th Anniversary
celebration on WLS on May 2nd. Tomorrow, Dick Biondi returns the favor for the Jim & the band and will speak in their honor at the event.
Of course, if all of the Ides are in one place, that must mean some good music will happen. Expect the Ides of March to perform a mini-concert (mostly unplugged) of their biggest hits before it's time to go home.
Jim Peterik said regarding this honor being bestowed upon his band: "I never could have dreamed that when I was ambling down Home Avenue - books under my arm on my way to school - that I was really walking down Ides Of March Way. This is a huge honor from the town that brought us to life, dear old Berwyn."
"We are very proud of being from Berwyn, and no matter where we go, we tell everyone where we're from. To receive this honor from our hometown is unbelievable," said Ides of March keyboardist Scott May.
The Ides of March's trumpeter Chuck Soumar added "We are honored to be a part of Berwyn's rich history and are grateful we can take our street sign unveiling to another level to raise money for our former high school where it all started."
This is only the second time in Berwyn's 102 year history that the city has issued a ceremonial street sign in honor of somebody.