The Buckinghams were by far one of the biggest pop-rock hit makers to come out of our city. Named for The Buckingham Fountain in Chicago (of course), the group was originally known as the Pulsations. They changed their names to a British-sounding name in hopes of benefitting from the British Invasion, the trend in the mid-60s during which British Rock Groups trounced their American counterparts in terms of record sales. But their sound was pure Chicago: witness their Horn-driven oh-so-hip brass-rock sound (and some fly suits) circa 1967, below.
When they had their first hit, “Kind of a Drag,” they were signed to local USA Records (a small local label best known for its blues, soul, and garage rock releases). Based on strong record sales, they were signed to Columbia Records (at the time, the biggest label in the industry). In 1967 Cash Box Magazine named them “The Most Promising Vocal Group in America”. Billboard Magazine called them “The Most Listened to Band in America” that same year. But meteoric success wasn’t to last.
They followed up with huge hits like “Don’t You Care”, “Susan”, and a cover of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” (all of which were Top 20 Chart toppers). But, their second album was produced by James William Guercio, who had stylistic clashes with the group. The group started out with a more rock and blues-based sound, but their Guercio-produced album was much slicker (yet much more off-kilter, too) featuring long edits and sometimes psychedelic horns and strings by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra that countered what the group wanted to sound like: more homegrown. For comparison purposes, here’s an early rare performance on a local TV show showcasing their homegrown bluesy-rock sound (note their notably less outrageous suits):
Fast Forward to about 1969. The group gained artistic control and parted ways with Guercio; but, consequently, their hits dried up. After a couple of additional albums, the group split: but for a moment in time, they were Chicago’s answer to the British Invasion. Below, “And Our Love”, a piece of Baroque brass-rock from their 1967 album “Time and Charges” (which I highly recommend).