Robert Lamm

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Robert Lamm
Robert Lamm.jpg
Robert Lamm, with a keytar, 2013
Background information
Birth nameRobert William Lamm
Born (1944-10-13) October 13, 1944 (age 74)
Brooklyn, New York United States
OriginChicago, Illinois
  • Musician
  • songwriter
Years active1967–present
LabelsBlue Infinity
Associated actsChicago
WebsiteOfficial website

Robert William Lamm (born October 13, 1944) is an American keyboardist, singer and songwriter who came to fame as a founding member of the rock band Chicago. He wrote many of the band's biggest hits, including "Questions 67 & 68", "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Beginnings", "25 or 6 to 4", "Saturday in the Park", "Dialogue (Part I & II)" and "Harry Truman".


Robert Lamm (center) performing with Earth, Wind & Fire on keytar.

Lamm was born on October 13, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York.[1] His parents had a collection of jazz records, which were an early influence on him. As a youth, he performed in the boys' and men's choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Brooklyn Heights.[2] In a 2003 interview, Lamm said, "My first musical training came as a member of that choir. It exposed me to some of the great sacred music from the Middle Ages, right up through Bach and into the 20th Century composers."

His mother eventually remarried, resulting in Lamm moving to Chicago, Illinois, when he was 15 years old.[1] He studied art in high school, particularly drawing and painting, but changed direction in college by enrolling in the music program at Roosevelt University in Chicago.[2]

In 1967, Lamm was one of the 6 founding members of a “rock band with horns” - soon to be known as “Chicago”. After recording 6 overwhelmingly successful albums, in 1974, Lamm released Skinny Boy, the only solo album from a member of Chicago before the 80s. Lamm seemingly drifted into a period of both personal and professional frustration. He emerged in 1982 with a new attitude.[3]

A number of solo albums began to appear after Lamm relocated back to New York in 1991. Lamm formed a trio (Beckley-Lamm-Wilson) with Gerry Beckley of the band America and Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. After Wilson's death from lung cancer in February 1998, an album was released entitled Like a Brother (2000).

All of these solo albums and songs were in addition to the continued semi-active recordings by Chicago, “The Stone of Sisyphus”, “Night and Day”, “Chicago XXX”, and “Chicago Now 36”.

Lamm has been a guest lecturer on music production at Stanford University. In 2012, he lectured at New York University on the subject of songwriting.


In Chicago's early years, Lamm used a simple setup of Hammond organ and Wurlitzer Electric Piano.[4][5] After the band's first tour of Europe, he began using a Hohner Pianet.[6] Initially, his use of the grand piano was limited to the studio until he began to use one more regularly on stage, purchasing a Steinway Model D Concert Grand by the early 1970s. The Fender Rhodes electric piano became a favorite around 1972.[7] Around 1973–1974, he added a Mellotron and Hohner clavinet in his keyboard rig and also incorporated Moog and ARP synthesizers. In the late 1970s, he also started using the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer and possibly a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 - according to an interview with Keyboard Magazine in 1979, he discovered that he no longer needed the Hammond organ after starting to play the CS80, so he retired it.[8] On a 1980 TV appearance, he played a grand piano with a Multimoog synthesizer above it. He then accessed various synthesizer sound modules via MIDI keyboard controllers such as Yamaha, Kawai, Rhodes, and a Yamaha keytar. Beginning in the late 1980s, he began using the Lync LN1000 keytar. As his primary keyboard, these days, he prefers the Yamaha Motif ES8 keyboard.

Solo discography[edit]

  • 1974: Skinny Boy[2]
  • 1993: Life Is Good in My Neighborhood[2]
  • 1999: In My Head
  • 2000: Like a Brother (Beckley-Lamm-Wilson)
  • 2003: Subtlety & Passion
  • 2004: Too Many Voices (expanded reissue of In My Head)
  • 2005: Leap of Faith – Live in New Zealand
  • 2006: Life is Good in My Neighborhood 2.0
  • 2006: Skinny Boy 2.0
  • 2008: The Bossa Project
  • 2012: Living Proof
  • 2012: Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE Remixes

Personal life[edit]

Lamm was married to the late Karen Lamm Wilson (née Perk) from 1970-1971. He married second wife Julie Nini in 1976. They had one daughter, Sacha. They divorced in 1981. Robert married his third wife, Y&R actress Alex Donnelly in 1985. They had two daughters, Kate and Sean, before divorcing in 1991. He married his fourth wife Joy Kopko in 1991. They have no children[9][10]


  1. ^ a b Helander, Brock (1999). Rockin' sixties. Schirmer Books. p. 77. ISBN 0028648730. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Iwasaki, Scott (July 12, 1996). "Chicago brings 29-year musical journal to Utah". The Deseret News. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  3. ^ Interview with musician Jim Newsom for PortFolio Weekly, a Virginia regional magazine of news, opinion, arts and culture, July 15, 2003
  4. ^ CHICAGO Live in Amsterdam 12/12/1969. YouTube. October 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Chicago Transit Authority – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (1969). YouTube. May 12, 2007.
  6. ^ Chicago Transit Authority (aka Chicago) – I'm A Man. YouTube. January 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Chicago – Dialogue (1972). YouTube. June 18, 2007.
  8. ^ "Robert Lamm Interview - (Contemporary Keyboard '79)".
  9. ^ "Carl Wilson Benefit".
  10. ^ RockConcertsOnline: Chicago's Induction Speech at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. YouTube. April 8, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2016.

External links[edit]