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  • Jim Peterik of Ides of March and a prolific songwriter, was on the cutting edge of the big brass band era in rock music. He's pictured here at the Cutting Room in New York City.

    Jim Peterik of Ides of March and a prolific songwriter, was on the cutting edge of the big brass band era in rock music. He’s pictured here at the Cutting Room in New York City.

    Jim Peterik is a true musician and a true survivor in a changing industry He was the force behind ’70s group Ides of March (“Vehicle”) and also wrote and performed Survivor’s “Eye Of the Tiger” and “That’s Why God Made The Radio” with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys.

    Peterik and the Ides just released a four CD, DVD package of almost everything they’ve ever recorded, called “The Ides of March: Last Band Standing.” It was released this year to mark the band’s 50th anniversary.

    It’s a magnificent retrospective of the band and Peterik. And, it includes two new tracks, one with the legendary Steve Cropper, best known as lead guitarist for Booker T. & the M.G.’s, sitting in.

    Ides of March stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other brass rock band giants of the time, like Chicago, If and Blood, Sweat and Tears.



    “Vehicle,” the band’s emblematic song, came out in 1971. If you were a music fan back then, you couldn’t resist it; it was a signature song for those times.

    I think of all the music people I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with over the years, some real magic moments stand out.

    Pop writer/producer Andrew Gold, Prague-born Jan Hammer, who crafted the original “Miami Vice” theme, horn-player David Sanborn, Box Scaggs and Phil Collins among others have provide some true insights.

    Yet, I never got the chance to interview, Peterik, someone I’ve always admired, until earlier this week.

    We spoke to Jim from his home base in Chicago.

    Improper: Last year I finally got to meet you at The Cutting Room in New York City, celebrating the release of your book, and watched you perform a one-man show, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen.

    Peterik: Thanks. It was a great night; a lot of friends were there from the area and the show went off perfectly.

    IM: I don’t think I can ever forget the cover of the first Ides Of March album in 1970, a black cover with a center shot of a baby doll. What was the story with that?

    Peterik: We didn’t have anything to do with the cover; we walked in and the label (Warner Brothers) showed it to us. We knew it was going to cause controversy and it did. EJ Korvette’s [one of the big vinyl chains at the time] refused to stock it.

    IM: You’ve done so much great work; what’s your daily schedule like? Do you set aside a certain amount of time every day to write? Do you even have a daily schedule?

    Peterik: Like so many people, I usually do my best work when I’m doing other things; when I get an idea, I like to get it down fast so I don’t forget it. My iPhone or my home studio is usually my first stop. I’ve been working on a song called “The Same Muse.” I don’t know where it will turn up, but I had to get one down fast.

    IM: This Ides package is just phenomenal. It’s almost like a master class in the evolution of a band, and you.

    Peterik: We wanted to put it all down. There’s some never-before released tracks, as well as some different takes that never came out. We had an Ides concert and the very next day we recorded with Steve Cropper (“Last Band Standing”). That was fantastic.

    IM: Who did you perform with in those days with the band; classic acts I’m sure.

    Peterik: One show I remember very well. In Winnipeg, we had The Youngbloods open, then Iron Buterfly, the Ides, and then Led Zeppelin. That was an amazing show to say the least. We were a lot different than Zeppelin. But what they were performing was totally great. I’ll never forget that show.

    IM: You continue to be involved in writing, production and a host of new projects. What’s your motivation for the continuing journey?

    Peterik: I’ve always been fascinated with a great vocalist. Whether it’s with Pride of Lions (a group he’s produced) or Mark Scherer, a great vocalist with the right song can work wonders. I have a track (“No Pier Pressure”) on the new Brian Wilson album, Sail Away that Brian said was his favorite. That knocked me out. I was friends with his brother Carl and formally met Brian in 1999. “Radio” took 6 years to finish.

    IM: What do you make of the big-band brass sound, is that due for a return.

    Peterik: There’s just something so captivating about that sound. When we started Ides, with horns, Blood, Sweat & Tears were definitely in our heads. The big band sound, you can’t beat it.

    IM: What do you make of the so-called music shows, like “American Idol” and “The Voice.”

    Peterik:: I think that they give a lot of these kids false hope in not showing them it’s all a lot of hard work. The business now is very different; if definitely separates the wanna-be’s from everybody else. There’s a lot of hard work involved in every facet.

    IM: I’ve read a lot of these rock memoirs, and yours was by far the best; inspirational too.

    Peterik: I loved writing that [with Lisa Torem]. It’s all there. It’s been quite the ride.

    IM: I know your very bullish of helping the record stores, the so-called brick-and-motor operations.

    Peterik: With the Ides release, we’re really supporting that as much as possible. They’ve played a key role in all our lives.

    IM: Thanks Jim, see you in New York City soon!