(Above: AHJ around the time of LSD)
As if the music world hadn’t suffered enough this week, the Chicago music scene took a specific hit as word spread that Skip Haynes passed away in Los Angeles on October 5 at the age of 71 after a long bout with cancer.
Skip was the Haynes in Aliotta, Haynes, and Jeremiah, a band not widely known outside of the Chicago area due to the fact that their signature song, “Lake Shore Drive,” was essentially a love letter to one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares. The song got wider exposure this past year after its inclusion in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, and Haynes was able to attend that film’s premiere. Skip was performing as a solo artist in Old Town when he began working with Mitch Aliotta (of the Rotary Connection) and John Jeremiah, who had also worked with Minnie Riperton. The band got their break one night when the scheduled act at The Earl of Old Town failed to show up, and the club’s manager enlisted the three to play.
“Lake Shore Drive” became a staple of Chicago FM radio stations. WDHF, which later became WMET, which later became WNUA, which is now country, I think, had a custom cut of the song that worked the call letters into the lyrics. I made sure to get it on to WJMK more than a few times when I was selecting the music there, and even got my hands on a copy to bring to Grand Rapids so that fellow expatriates like myself could enjoy the song every so often.
It’s hard to picture a scenario where I’ll live in Chicago again. But “Lake Shore Drive” helps to evoke a picture in the mind of driving into the city and seeing its magnificence appear before you. The driver in the song is coming in from the north side; I always came in from the south. There’s a moment when you merge onto LSD from the Ryan where the entire skyline appears before you. As a kid sitting in my parents’ backseat it was a glorious site to behold as it looked nothing like the treeless suburbs. Even as I close in on fifty, after a long ride on the Skyway, it’s still pretty cool to get a look at – even if they made Soldier Field look silly.
See if you can smell the green. You can hear “Lake Shore Drive” by clicking here.