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Danny Seraphine

Danny Seraphine
Danny Seraphine - Live in Concert
Background information
Birth name Daniel Peter Seraphine
Born (1948-08-28) August 28, 1948
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Rock
Instruments drums, percussion
Years active 1967–present
Associated acts Chicago, California Transit Authority, David "Hawk" Wolinski
Website Official website
Notable instruments
DW Drums, Zildjian cymbals

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


  • Early life 1
  • Chicago Transit Authority 2
  • Chicago 3
  • Post-Chicago 4
  • Awards and achievements 5
  • Endorsements 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Danny Seraphine was born in Chicago and raised in the predominantly Italian Mont Clare neighborhood adjacent to the west suburbs of Elmwood Park and River Forest. He started playing drums at the age of nine while attending St. Priscilla Catholic grade school. When he was 15 years old, Seraphine dropped out of 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

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 out 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 just 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/rock and roll groups.

Seraphine co-wrote several songs for the band: "Lowdown" (a Top 40 hit for the band), "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 Chaka Khan and Rufus. 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 based on Xbox Kinect, Dance Dance Revolution X2 for PlayStation 2, and SingStar Dance, the dancing game based on 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 left Chicago in 1990, following the recording of Chicago 19. After some session drummers, this vacancy was filled permanently by veteran drummer, Tris Imboden, 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, Danny published his autobiography Street Player: My Chicago Story.[1][2] 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

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)".


Seraphine has played DW drums, pedals & hardware, Remo drumheads, Zildjian cymbals and drumsticks. He had previously endorsed Rogers, Slingerland and Yamaha drums in the past prior to hooking up with DW, whom he has been with since 1988. In Chicago's heyday, Seraphine was a faithful user of 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 has cited Buddy Rich as a major influence, which may be the reason why he used Slingerland for so long. He switched to Yamaha Drums around 1984 prior to the departure of singer/bassist Peter Cetera, but in 1988, he switched to Drum Workshop, whom 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.


  1. ^ 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.  
  2. ^ "22-Sept-2013 Interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Retrieved 3 November 2013. 

External links

  • 2013 Audio Interview with Danny Seraphine from the Podcast "I'd Hit That"
  • Danny Seraphine - Drummer Cafe
  • Danny Seraphine - Drummerworld
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