The year 1978 started on a devastating note for the band Chicago. Founding member Terry Kath had accidentally killed himself in late January while playing with guns at a roadie’s house. It was a big enough blow to the group that they considered calling it quite in the wake of the tragedy. Legendary band leader Doc Severinsen of the Tonight Show band convinced them to keep the legacy alive. Chicago’s first album after Kath’s death: Hot Streets.
The album marked a decided change in direction for the band. With new guitarist Donnie Dacus now in the fold, they headed off to recording studios in Miami, L.A. and Colorado to make the LP. While in Miami, they were right next door to the Bee Gees, who were recording their massive Spirits Having Flown full-length. The two acts would form a kinship with the Bee Gees singing on Hot Streets track, “Little Miss Lovin’.” The Chicago horn section would return the favor by appearing on the Bee Gees “Too Much Heaven.”
Hot Streets would also mark changes in the band’s aesthetics. It was the first to feature an actual title instead of a number. Also, the record’s cover art featured a photo of band members instead of a play on their iconic logo.
The LP was launched with first single, “Alive Again,” an upbeat dance-floor-filler heavily influenced by the disco sound that had swept the nation in the wake of Saturday Night Fever. It would peak at No. 14 on the Hot 100. Second single ”No Tell Lover” was a smooth mid-tempo ballad that would also top out at No. 14 on the charts. The song would also be their last Top 50 hit until 1982 with “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”
Donnie Dacus’ tenure in Chicago would be short-lived; after Hot Streets and the 1979 follow-up, Chicago 13, he was unceremoniously fired from the band.
“He was let go because he really didn’t fit into the band, never did, it was a mistake in the first place,” drummer Danny Seraphin told The Review Revue in 1997. “It wasn’t his fault either, he was a good guy, he just didn’t fit in with the mix. I know it really hurt him to be let go like that, believe me now I know how that feels.”