Danny Seraphine

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Danny Seraphine
DannySeraphine(by Scott Dudelson).jpg
Danny Seraphine - Live in Concert
Background information
Birth nameDaniel Peter Seraphine
Born (1948-08-28) August 28, 1948 (age 70)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresRock, Jazz.
Years active1967–present
Associated actsChicago, California Transit Authority, David "Hawk" Wolinski

Daniel Peter "Danny" Seraphine (born August 28, 1948) is an American drummer, record producer, theatrical producer and film producer. He is best known as the original drummer and founding member of the rock band Chicago, a tenure which lasted from February 1967 to May 1990.

Early life[edit]

Daniel Peter Seraphine was born in Chicago and raised in the Dunning neighborhood on Chicago's northwest side. He started playing drums at the age of nine while attending St. Priscilla Catholic grade school. When he was 15 years old, Seraphine withdrew from Steinmetz High School. He studied privately with famed percussionist Bob Tilles at DePaul University, where members of Chicago were also studying.

He continued his education with big band drummer Chuck Flores, followed by two years of study under jazz drummer Jo Jones (also known as Papa Jo Jones) in the mid-1970s.

Chicago Transit Authority[edit]

By the late 1960s, Seraphine was drumming in various bands, including one with teen friends Walter Parazaider (saxophone and woodwinds) and Terry Kath (guitar). After the addition of Lee Loughnane (trumpet), James Pankow (trombone), Robert Lamm (keyboards) and Peter Cetera (bass), the band performed under a number of different names, first the Missing Links, then The Big Thing (sometimes called The Big Sound), before settling on Chicago Transit Authority, which was soon shortened to Chicago because of threatened legal action by the actual Chicago Transit Authority.


Their producer and manager, James William Guercio, moved Chicago to Los Angeles and they became the house band at the Whisky A Go Go. They subsequently obtained a contract with Columbia Records and recorded their first album — a double album — in two weeks. The album was titled after the band's name, The Chicago Transit Authority, and released in 1969. Second only to The Beach Boys in terms of Billboard singles and albums chart success among American bands, Chicago is one of the longest running and most successful pop and rock groups.

Seraphine cowrote several songs for the band: "Lowdown" (a Top 40 hit for the band), the instrumentals "Prelude to Aire," "Aire," and "Devil's Sweet" from the album Chicago VII, "Little One," "Take Me Back to Chicago," "Show Me the Way," "Birthday Boy" and "Street Player." His writing partner was often David "Hawk" Wolinski, the keyboardist for Rufus featuring Chaka Khan. His song "Street Player" was sampled by The Bucketheads for the dance hit "The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall into My Mind)", and later by rapper Pitbull for the hit "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" from the album "Rebelution". The song samples "75, Brazil Street" by Nicola Fasano versus Pat Rich, which itself samples "Street Player". "I Know You Want Me" has also been featured in Dance Central, the dancing game for Xbox Kinect, Dance Dance Revolution X2 for PlayStation 2, and SingStar Dance, the dancing game for PlayStation Move.

In 1974, during the peak of the band's career, Seraphine invested in and was a moving force in the establishment of B'Ginnings, a music venue with capacity of almost 1,000, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

Seraphine was let go from Chicago in May 1990, after disagreements with the band that were chronicled in his book Street Player: My Chicago Story.[1][2] After his departure, veteran session drummer Tris Imboden joined the band in time for Twenty 1.


In early 2006, Danny Seraphine debuted a new band, California Transit Authority (CTA), featuring himself on drums, Marc Bonilla on lead guitar, Mick Mahan on bass guitar, Ed Roth and Peter Fish on keyboards, Mike Wallace on guitar, and Tower of Power singer Larry Braggs on vocals. Seraphine and Bonilla initially put the band together to play for several charity benefit shows.

Included in the new band's repertoire are several Chicago songs, including "Make Me Smile," "25 or 6 to 4," "South California Purples," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and Steve Winwood's "I'm A Man".

CTA released their first studio album, Full Circle, on August 14, 2007, followed by a tour of the United States. The band's second CD Sacred Ground was released on March 21, 2013.

2009 saw the release of Lonely Street, a film for which Seraphine served as an executive producer and the music supervisor. In 2010 he published his aforementioned autobiography Street Player: My Chicago Story.[1][3] In the same year, he released the biographical and instructional DVD "The Art of Jazz Rock Drumming" produced by The Drum Channel.

Awards and achievements[edit]

Seraphine has been ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 100 drummers of all time. In 2010, Seraphine received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cape Breton Drum Festival. In 2011, he also won a Lifetime Achievement Award, Montreal Drum Festival. Additionally, he was recognized by the ASCAP as a co-writer of Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)".

On May 9, 2015, the City of Chicago dedicated the 3500 block of North Normandy Avenue on Chicago's northwest side "Honorary Danny Seraphine Way".[4][5]

Seraphine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Chicago on April 8, 2016.[6]


Seraphine plays DW drums, pedals & hardware, Aquarian drumheads, Zildjian cymbals and drumsticks. He had previously endorsed Rogers, Slingerland and Yamaha drums in the past prior to endorsing DW in 1988. With Chicago, Seraphine used Rogers and Slingerland drums; and in the 1970s, he used an array of Slingerland drum kits in both recording and touring and in a variety of configurations. He switched to Yamaha Drums around 1984 before the departure of singer and bassist Peter Cetera. In 1988, he switched to Drum Workshop, which he has been with ever since. He had previously used Pro-Mark drumsticks, but eventually switched to using Danny Seraphine signature drumsticks, a line created for him by Zildjian, and for many years, he used Remo heads.


  1. ^ a b Seraphine, Daniel; X., Adam (2011) [2010]. Street Player: My Chicago Story (Book and eBook). Chicago (Musical group) (2nd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470416839. OCLC 463675584. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. ^ "22-Sept-2013 Interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  3. ^ "22-Sept-2013 Interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  4. ^ "Honorary Danny Seraphine Way Dedication Ceremony". Steinmetz Alumni Association. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  5. ^ Office of the City Clerk. "Document Tracking Sheet". City of Chicago. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  6. ^ Graff, Gary. "Chicago on Their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction". Billboard. Retrieved January 29, 2016.

External links[edit]