The Night Chicago Died

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"The Night Chicago Died"
Single by Paper Lace
from the album And Other Bits of Material
B-side "Can You Get It When You Want It"
Released 15 June 1974
Format 7"
Recorded 1974
Genre Rock
Length 3:30
Label Philips
Writer(s) Peter Callander, Mitch Murray
Producer(s) Peter Callander, Mitch Murray
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Paper Lace singles chronology
"Billy - Don't Be a Hero"
(1974)
"The Night Chicago Died"
(1974)
"The Black Eyed Boys"
(1974)

"The Night Chicago Died" is a song by the British group Paper Lace, written by Peter Callander and Mitch Murray. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in 1974, reached number 3 in the UK charts, and number 2 in Canada. It is about a fictional shoot-out between the Chicago Police and members of the Al Capone Syndicate. The narrator retells his mother's anguish while awaiting news of the fate of her husband, a Chicago policeman.

History[edit]

"The Night Chicago Died" was Paper Lace's follow-up single to "Billy Don't Be a Hero", a #1 hit in the U.K. but virtually unheard in the U.S. where Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods' cover reached #1. Callander and Murray wrote both songs.

The U.S. single received a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, signifying sales of at least one million copies. Though the song's story is set in the United States, Paper Lace were unable to perform the song live in the U.S. at the height of its popularity because of contractual issues.[1]

The translated version of the song was recorded in Spanish by Mexican Tejano group, Banda Toro, titled "La Noche Que Chicago se Murio"

Accuracy[edit]

"The Night Chicago Died" is about a shoot-out between the Chicago Police and gangsters tied to Al Capone. It may have been inspired by the real-life Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, although that involved Capone's men killing seven of Bugs Moran's gang members and had nothing to do with the police.

The song's events supposedly take place "on the East Side of Chicago." Chicago has three commonly referred-to regions: the North Side, the West Side and the South Side. The East Side is not one of these "sides" of town, but is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of Cook County. East Side is 13 miles away from where Capone lived on Prairie Avenue in Chicago.

The songwriters said in interviews—most notably on Beat Club shortly after the song's smash success—that they had never been to Chicago before that time, and that their knowledge of the city and that period of its history had been based on gangster films.

Paper Lace did send the song to Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was not impressed with the song and greatly disliked it.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paper Lace Interview - Nottingham Articles - LeftLion.co.uk
  2. ^ Fred Bronson. The Billboard book of number 1 hits. p. 373. 
Preceded by
"Feel Like Makin' Love" by Roberta Flack
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
17 August 1974
Succeeded by
"(You're) Having My Baby" by Paul Anka and Odia Coates