James William Guercio
James William Guercio
Parazaider invited Guercio to hear his new band, "The Big Thing," and Guercio was impressed enough to offer to manage and produce them. He relocated the band to Los Angeles in 1968, convinced them to change their name to "The Chicago Transit Authority," and arranged for them to appear in local clubs where they quickly became popular. While recording their first album for CBS/Columbia, Guercio was also approached about producing a second album for Blood, Sweat & Tears. Both of these highly-successful albums were released in 1969), and Blood, Sweat & Tears won Guercio an Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 1970, threatened with legal action by the "real" Chicago Transit Authority, Guercio shortened the band's name to Chicago and worked with them on a second album, Chicago II.
Both this album and the original The Chicago Transit Authority featured long recordings which were moderately popular on FM stations, but when Guercio edited several tracks down to a radio-friendly 3-minute length -- including single versions of "Make Me Smile," "25 or 6 to 4," and "Beginnings" -- Chicago became a huge commercial success. Guercio would ultimately produce a total of eleven albums for the band (including five straight number 1 pop albums, starting with Chicago V) and 17 Top 25 singles. The Chicago X album yielded the band's first number 1 single, "If You Leave Me Now," which also earned two Grammy Awards (best pop performance for the band, and best arrangement for Guercio). However, Guercio and the band members found themselves increasingly at odds over creative decisions, tour schedules, and finances, and they parted ways soon after completing an eleventh album in late 1977. Guercio's attention was not only on the big-time artists.
In 1969 he encountered street poet and musician Moondog, going on to produce two albums with the eccentric character; on the second he performed vocals with Moondog and the artist's daughter. Guercio produced the Firesign Theatre's single "Station Break," which was released in March of 1969 (and later appeared on the Forward Into The Past anthology), and in April 1970, Guercio produced the "Shoes for Industry" segment of their classic LP Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers. In addition, both Dwarf and Firesign's earlier How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All were labelled with "Poseidon Productions: A Division of James William Guercio Enterprises Inc." Guercio also produced the album Gerard for the English singer/songwriter Gerard McMahon. Read more on Last.fm.
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