While fans of Chicago are still recovering from the news that the epic group’s longest standing drummer–hallmark performer Tris Imboden–is departing from the band, we would be remiss if we didn’t comment on this blockbuster move considering all the coverage that we have given Tris over the years.

First, in case you missed the announcement it came via Tris’ Facebook page and it appears below:

Obviously, the initial reaction–from a business point of view–is that this presents a big hole for the braintrust of Chicago to fill. Tris, a solid timekeeper, accomplished drummer, fan favorite, and, a musician who is as reliable as the sunrise, will surely be missed. This is particularly true considering that the chemistry between Tris and percussionist Wally Reyes is so very special. However, knowing the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the band, they will recover as they always have. 

Tris was the architect for the legendary drum work on “Footloose”

But that’s not our focus here. Musicians do leave groups and people do move on in life. In fact, Tris himself had quite a career before he joined Chicago. He had a long stint with Kenny Loggins and he also performed and/or recorded with the likes of Anita Baker, Neil Diamond, Richard Marx, Roger Daltrey and Crosby Stills & Nash, just to name a few.

Thus, we have no doubt that Tris will continue in his Hall Of Fame ways after he “departs” Chicago and indeed his announcement indicates as such. This seasoned musician clearly has a lot of gas left in the tank so we expect much more from this iconic drummer.

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Rush, “Freewill”

Having said that, we wanted to focus on the man himself. Make no mistake about it, the music industry is not the most stable around and any musician who considers leaving a well known band that is constantly working has got a difficult (and gutsy) decision to make. After all, the age old model of holing up in a studio and recording a record to sell to the public is no longer the preferred method of generating an income. Arguably, the industry focus has largely turned to touring and live performances.

Chicago is clearly still going strong

That said, this decision is a gutsy one. Chicago is still very strong and they are a perennial sell out; their drawing power has done anything but decrease. If you accept that touring and live performances are where it’s at, then Chicago would have to be a preferred destination.

However, there’s more. The first thing we thought of when we heard the news was that this is reminiscent of those times (rare nowadays) where an athlete places an emphasis on something other than money so that he or she can remain with a particular club. Fans, teammates and owners love that. It speaks volumes about the athlete’s real intentions and fortitude and in professional athletics, it is sign of purity and being truly genuine.

Tris with wife Mary Montiel Imboden

Here, by way of analogy, Imboden’s intentions are just as noble because at the root of his decision is the most important thing in life; family and loved ones (and more specifically, Mary, his wife). In our opinion, that decision is beyond reproach and that’s what makes this “departure” so special if you can think about it that way. One has no choice but to respect and admire Tris Imboden the man but then again if you have had the pleasure of meeting or knowing Tris, this really is in character for him.

We salute Tris for all he has done with Chicago. Indeed, it was a great ride. We even salute him for this decision. His musical career has been a special one and it is far from over however, it’s the human interest side of this story that really grabbed us and we are sure it grabbed you too. This is a special man and musician who has followed his heart his whole life. It has never let him down nor did it do so this time. If there was a hall of fame for humanity, he should be inducted there too. Best of luck friend.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor