Chicago Names Walfredo Reyes, Jr. As New Drummer, Add New Vocalist and Bassist

by VVN Music

Over the fifty year history of Chicago, they have only had two drummers, Danny Seraphine from 1967 to 1990 and Tris Imboden from 1990 until this month when he announced that he was leaving the band because of heavy touring commitments.

On Monday (January 22), Chicago announced that their third drummer would be Walfredo (Wally) Reyes, Jr. The drummer has actually been part of Chicago since 2012 when he took over for his brother Daniel as the band's percussionist but his musical experience goes through numerous major artists.

Born in Havana, Cuba, he is a third generation musician and, in 1968, his family came to America where his father played in the house band for the Desert Inn in Las Vegas.

He started making music professionally at the age of 16 in 1971, working around the Las Vegas Area with acts like Paul Anka, Marilyn McCoo and Ben Vereen.  In 1983, he began working on the road and in the studio with Tina Marie and followed with such luminaries as Jackson Browne, Jimmy Barnes, Santana, Boz Scaggs, Gloria Estefan, Traffic, Robbie Robertson, Steve Winwood, Joe Sample, Johnny Hallyday, Khaled, Lindsey Buckingham and Mickey Hart.

Everything for Reyes, though, leads back to Chicago, a band that he has followed all of his life. Reyes says that the first album he ever bought was Chicago Transit Authority and that they have always been one of his favorite bands. "Playing Chicago songs is like playing the soundtrack of my life... through the '70s, '80s '90s, 2000s, and now!"

Also leaving the band due to touring is bassist Jeff Coffey who was brought in when Jason Scheff left Chicago in 2016.

Replacing Coffey are two new members, Neil Donell on lead tenor vocals and Brett Simons on bass.

There are three original members of Chicago that remain with the band, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane and James Pankow while Walt Parazaider remains a member but has retired from the road.

Chicago's full statement:

As many of you have already heard, our long-time drummer Tris Imboden has resigned. For nearly thirty years Tris has shared his tremendous talent, and indeed his life, with Chicago. We are fortunate to have known him and grateful to have shared the stage with him these many years. He has been a great friend and band mate and we’ll miss his enthusiasm and contagious smile. We wish Tris and Mary a lifetime of happiness together.

Walfredo Reyes Jr. has been touring with Chicago for many years as percussionist, but as most of you already know, he is also an accomplished drummer. Walfredo has been fusing the two disciplines of drummer and percussionist since his teen-age years and has toured and/or recorded with an impressive number of artists including Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood and Smokey Robinson, just to name a few. We are thrilled that he will be taking over on drums as we continue our 2018 tour.

We are also saying goodbye to our newest band mate Jeff Coffey, talented bassist and vocalist. While Jeff was only with us for a short time, we are grateful for his considerable contributions and his dedication. We wish him continued success with his solo career and in all his professional endeavors.

The rigors of touring are immense. Now, in our 51st consecutive year of touring, we understand the toll it takes on families, the birthdays and milestones that are missed and the strain of being away from loved ones for weeks at a time. Chicago routinely plays over 100 events a year. When you add in travel days, band members are away from home for over 150 days a year. It is a difficult life, but also one filled with tremendous rewards. We look forward to sharing those rewards as we welcome new members to the band.

Many of you are already familiar with Canadian Neil Donell who has been enthusiastically received as a guest vocalist with Chicago on occasion, we now welcome him as an official band member taking over lead tenor vocals. On bass we will be joined by Brett Simons who has toured and recorded with musical icons such as Brian Wilson, Fiona Apple and Melissa Etheridge. We will be posting more about these new members in the weeks and months to come, and hope you will embrace them with the same love and support you have for all present and former Chicago band members.

–Chicago, the band

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