Taft High School Alumni Association/Chicago, IL
United States of America

Update (Posted October 11, 2010)

A Terry Kath Tribute Concert was held in May 2010 at Taft High School. It featured special performances by original Chicago drummer: Danny Seraphine, Kenny Cetera (Peter Cetera's younger brother) and legendary producer Jim Guercio. A plaque with Terry's picture was presented to the school which now is on display outside the music department. To view photos of it, feel free to visit the tribute website: www.terrykathtributeconcert.com.

We are continuing to push for Terry's official induction to the Taft HOF. Help us do that by encouraging other fans and friends to sign the petition AND by joining the official Cause page on facebook: http://www.causes.com/causes/246685?m=4e2f81c3


UPDATE (Posted May 19, 2009)!

On Thursday, May 15 the Taft Alumni Board met to decide two things: a) changing the criteria for election to the hall of fame, and b) voting on this year's hall of fame inductees.

First item for consideration was whether or not to change the criteria regarding allowing deceased alumni into the hall of fame. That passed overwhelmingly with a 7-2 vote. Now all worthy, whether living or deceased, can be inducted.

Then the board voted on the nominees. There were 12 on the ballot. The first eleven were voted on verbally. Unison "yay's" were taken...no official way to count them and no "no's" were asked for. The first 11 all got in, even though several were not qualified in the past.

The 12th name on the list was Terry Kath (Taft class 1964), co-founder of the rock group Chicago. Instead of a verbal vote as was done for the others, his was held by "Secret Ballot." He lost by one vote.

The board did say that a plaque of Mr. Kath could be put on the music room door. That's nice and maybe even better, but we are wondering why he's good enough to be honored that way and not with the hall of fame? And why is he considered a notable of Taft in other places, such as the Chicago Public Schools Alumni page and not at his own school?

Compared to the others up for induction, Mr. Kath had equal if not more qualifications to be inducted. This egregious break in the traditional voting methods clearly shows bias against this particular candidate. If something isn't done to correct this now, it surely will happen again. Some get in with little to no discussion, while others are singled out and "raked over the coals."

We are glad the critieria has changed so deceased can now be inducted. However, we are continuing our fight to see that Kath gets the recognition he deserves.


If you are a Taft Alumni, please include that and the year you graduated in the comment section of the petition. To be notified of updates and/or events related to this at Taft or the area surrounding the school, make sure to include your email address on the same screen where you put your basic information. Email addresses ARE NOT made public.
Since the petition’s posting on October 9, an alumni officer has supplied more details regarding the hall of fame criteria.

1. In addition to the Hall of Fame, there is a Book of Honor which celebrates the lives of those who are deceased.

2. The Hall of Fame requires its inductees to be living persons. One of the purposes of the Hall of Fame is to introduce to Taft students to those alumni of high values and accomplishments (not necessarily "famous" people) that they can look up to and speak to, and see that they come from the same beginnings at Taft as do their students.

3. The nomination criteria is not a secret, nor is there a conspiracy among the officers. TAA publishes the nominating criteria when it is timely prior to each induction in our TAA newsletter for the benefit of all of our members. This occurs approximately every four years, however, beginning with this induction, the information will also be published permanently on our website, as our bylaws are already.

Regarding Terry Kath specifically, “he and all other deceased alumni are disqualified for no reason other than their deaths. If the criteria were to change in the future to allow the induction of deceased alumni, only then would their individual qualifications be evaluated.”

Taking the above into account, WE still feel that ALL deserving alumni should be honored as a whole whether living or deceased. It’s a way to be proud of the school’s rich history.

While the officer claims that most young folks are rarely inspired by the deceased, we beg to differ. Every one of us can attribute our attitudes, our feelings, our beliefs, our passions and our inspirations to not only the people who are still in our lives, but to the vast historical body of intellect that is part of our collective history, whether it is in music, politics, writing or any other endeavor we have chosen to pursue.

Why put the deceased in what is essentially a book of the dead? Plus, if the above criteria is not changed, then those on the Hall of Fame list would have to be removed when they are no longer living.

This is only the beginning of changes that need to made not just for Terry but for the benefit of all future Taft graduates.


Update #2
"In attempting to make this petition as accurate as possible, and to eliminate any falsehoods or statements that might be misleading, we would like to state that while the original description/background of the petition claims that 'Terry pioneered the hammer-on harmonic guitar technique' we need to clarify that it was culled out of several postings on the internet. We acknowledge that that technique is actually TWO different styles of playing, and there is debate whether or not Terry "pioneered"either. This is an apology for misleading anyone by not doing more thorough research." The statements referring to the above have been removed.


Beginning in 1989, Alumni Officers of Taft High School in Chicago, IL initiated a “Hall of Fame” to recognize former students “who exemplify the best of Taft,” as well as “bring honor to the name of Taft High School through their accomplishments in their careers, personal achievements, service to others, leadership and courage” (taken from the TAA website: http://www.taftalumni.org/Taft_Hall_of_Fame/HOF_Index.htm).

According to a recent conversation with a Taft Alumni Officer, the criteria also state that those nominated and/or inducted must be "living". (NOTE: NUMEROUS ATTEMPTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO OBTAIN THE TAA HONOR AWARDS CRITERIA IN WRITING. SO FAR, THE OFFICERS WHO HAVE ACCESS TO IT HAVE NOT MADE IT AVAILABLE.)

Taft High School has a terrific history. That’s why the school should recognize as many of their distinguished graduates as possible. Those who were a part of it and made contributions should be celebrated, whether living or deceased. One of the former students who deserves that honor is Terry Kath/Class of 1964.

Terry Kath (January 31, 1946 - January 23, 1978) went from being a self-taught musician to being a co-founder, lead guitarist and vocalist for one of the top selling bands of all time: Chicago. His brilliant guitar skills give the rock edge to classic hits such as: “25 or 6 to 4,” “Feeling Stronger Everyday,” and “Questions 67 & 68.” His fiery guitar combined with Chicago’s brass gave the band its signature sound.

Kath’s voice was equally as vital to the classic Chicago sound. “Color My World,” “Make Me Smile,” and “Wishing You Were Here” are just a few of the hits that feature his unique, soulful voice. In total, Kath performed on eleven Chicago albums from 1969-1977 all of which earned at least gold certification. He was considered the onstage “leader” by his fellow band members on numerous sold out tours.

Kath’s talent paved the way for Chicago’s tremendous success. Chicago has earned over 120 million in record sales and is the second top-selling American band of all time (behind the Beach Boys). Sadly, Terry Kath passed away in 1978 from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Yet, his memory lives on in the music that continues to Color Our World today.

We, the undersigned Alumni, fans, and friends of Terry Kath petition the Taft Alumni Association to:

a) Change the criteria so that ALL distinguished former students (both living and deceased) can be nominated and inducted to the Taft Alumni Hall of Fame rather than put deceased alumni in an "honorary" book separate from the others.

(Newly added) We realize the current criteria is set for those still living because current students would be able to "meet" those alumni for guidance. We have a different view on this and feel that every one of us can attribute our attitudes, our feelings, our beliefs, our passions and our inspirations to not only the people who are still in our lives, but to the vast historical body of intellect that is part of our collective history, whether it is in music, politics, writing or any other endeavor we have chosen to pursue.

b) Set the criteria so that each nominee is awarded solely for the contributions and/or accomplishments they made to society, whether still living or deceased.

c) Publish the nomination and induction criteria on the TAA website after all current officers have had a chance to review agree on it.

d) Nominate and induct new honorary members fairly, without bias.

Furthermore, we petition the TAA to allow Terry Kath to be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Currently, he is ineligible because he is not living and because a few officers of the Taft Alumni Association feel the way Terry died is a poor role model for today's youth even though official reports show his death was an accident.

Terry Kath’s contributions to music history and continued inspiration to others far outweigh the tragic circumstances surrounding his death. Therefore, he should rightfully earn a nomination and induction into the Taft High School Hall of Fame. We urge you to bestow the honors on Terry Kath that he justly deserves. He is just one example of why the current TAA Hall of Fame criteria need to be changed.

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The Taft High School Alumni Honors / Terry Kath Induction petition to Taft High School Alumni Association/Chicago, IL was written by Anonymous and is in the category Music at GoPetition.