Terry Alan Kath was born on 31 January 1946 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. He was the son of Ray and Evelyn Kath. He grew up in a musical family. He became interested in music at a young age, and learned to play drums, piano, accordion, and banjo. He then learned to play guitar, and practiced for hours in his basement.
Terry graduated from Taft High School. He attended DePaul University.
When he was in high school, Terry formed a band called the Mystics. A few years later, he briefly played bass with Jimmy Ford & the Executives. Not long afterward, he, drummer Danny Seraphine, and Walter Parazaider were let go. They then joined a cover band called the Missing Links. Terry earned about $500 a week playing with the band in Chicago clubs.
After the Missing Links broke up, Danny decided to form a new band, and asked Terry and Walter to join. James Pankow (trombone), Lee Loughnane (trumpet), and Robert Lamm (keyboards and vocals) also joined, and the band called themselves the Big Thing. The Big Thing's first show was in March 1967. After seeing the band play in Niles, Michigan, record producer Jimmy Guercio told them to prepare to move to Los Angeles. Before they moved, they were joined by bassist Peter Cetera. The band's name was also changed to Chicago Transit Authority.
Chicago Transit Authority got a contract with CBS Records, and released their self-titled double album in April 1969. It reached number 17 on the Billboard charts. After being threatened with legal action, the band shortened its name to Chicago.
The biggest hit on the band's second album, Chicago, was the song "25 or 6 to 4". The song features Terry's electric guitar solo using a wah-wah pedal. The album reached number 4 on the charts. Chicago achieved great success throughout the 1970s.
Terry married Pamela J. Robinson on 28 May 1970 in Los Angeles, California. They divorced in 1974.
Terry married Camelia Ortiz in 1974. They had a daughter, Michelle.
Terry died on 23 January 1978 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles County, California. After going to the shooting range, he went to the home of Don Johnson, Chicago's keyboard tech. He was cleaning his guns, and after taking the clip out of a gun, he waved it around. The pressure released the bullet in the chamber. The bullet entered Terry's head and killed him instantly.
Terry was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Los Angeles County, California.
↑ Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.