How Did I Not Know This Song?

"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace?  What and who is that?  I just heard this song for the first time, which is weird, because apparently it was a #1 in 1974.  I was still living in Greece in 1974 so I wasn't exactly glued to Top 40 radio, but still, you'd think I'd have heard it.  Am I in some kind of weird minority here?

It's an odd song, with an almost-rap beginning and a hodgepodge of story lines. Based on the title, I assumed Paper Lace was a Chicago band, but a couple things in the track left me puzzled.  The little guitar harmony at 1:00 is way too Beatley for a Chicago band; and when I heard the harmony vocals at 1:03 I thought, "That sounds like Sweet!  No American band ever got this kind of vocal sound."  Best resort to Google, and of course, I had my answer in seconds.  They're English…and their other claim to fame is that they were the first band to record "Billy Don't Be A Hero", another #1, but only in the UK.  Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods released "Billy" in the US and topped the charts over here.

But Paper Lace didn't write either of those hits.  The writers were Mitch Murray and Peter Callander, a songwriting/producing team.  Wonder who those guys were?  Well, Mitch Murray's first hit was none other than "How Do You Do It?"  That song was famously rejected by The Beatles in favor of "Please, Please Me" and then scooped up by Gerry & The Pacemakers who had a #1 with it.  Murray had tons of other odd hits as well.

And here's the subtext of this post: although they consume way too much of my time, YouTube and Wikipedia are flat out amazing resources.

The Night Chicago Died

3 comments

  • Neil Keighery

    Neil Keighery Nottingham UK

    well Hux, you must have a calling to come to Nottingham UK .....Paper lace are a band from Nottingham and they made big headlines with Billy Don't Be A Hero.......I remember it very well :) Come to Nottingham with The Orchestra Hux........you know you want to!! :) Neil Nottingham UK

    well Hux, you must have a calling to come to Nottingham UK .....Paper lace are a band from Nottingham and they made big headlines with Billy Don't Be A Hero.......I remember it very well smile

    Come to Nottingham with The Orchestra Hux........you know you want to!! smile

    Neil Nottingham UK

  • mark goddard

    mark goddard Boston MA.

    You never saw the movie High Fidelity? Jack Black does a parody of this song when Laura's father died. The night Laura's daddy died/ Sha-na-na-nananannah / Mother what a night it really was / Brother what a-... angina's tough / Glooory be!

    You never saw the movie High Fidelity?
    Jack Black does a parody of this song when Laura's father died.
    The night Laura's daddy died/ Sha-na-na-nananannah / Mother what a night it really was / Brother what a-... angina's tough / Glooory be!

  • Parthenon Huxley

    Parthenon Huxley

    I saw High Fidelity. Guess I missed the reference!

    I saw High Fidelity. Guess I missed the reference!

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