The Night Chicago Died

The Night Chicago Died

"The Night Chicago Died" is a song by the British group Paper Lace, written by Peter Robin Callander and Mitch Murray. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in 1974 and also reached number 3 in the UK charts. Its subject matter is a fictional gang shootout in Chicago between gangsters tied to Al Capone and the Chicago Police. The narrator retells his mother's anguish in awaiting news of the fate of her husband, a Chicago policeman.


"The Night Chicago Died" was Paper Lace's follow-up single to "Billy, Don't Be A Hero", a #1 hit in the U.K. but virtually unheard in the U.S. where Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods' simultaneously-released cover reached #1. Callander and Murray wrote both songs.

The U.S. single received a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, signifying sales of at least one million copies. Ironically, though the song's story is set in America, Paper Lace were unable to perform the song live in the U.S. at the height of its popularity because of contractual issues. [ [ Paper Lace Interview - Nottingham Articles - ] ]


"The Night Chicago Died" is a work of fiction. Although it references the notorious Chicago mobster Al Capone and his gang by name, no such massive police shootout took place during Capone's reign as the head of the city's organized crime syndicate. In fact, Capone's criminal career ended quietly in 1931 when he was convicted of income-tax evasion and weapons possession.

The song's events supposedly take place "on the East Side of Chicago." This is problematic, as native Chicagoans would never refer to "the East Side of Chicago." To most Chicagoans, this would refer to Lake Michigan. Unlike the North, West, and South Sides, which divide the city into three general and commonly-referred regions, East Side is, in reality, a small local neighborhood several miles south of downtown Chicago, ironically, not far where Al Capone lived (his address was 7244 South Prairie Avenue).

Elements of the story may have been inspired by the famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.Fact|date=March 2007 However, that encounter was between Capone's men and a rival Chicago gang rather than the police, and it took place in February instead of "in the heat of a summer night."

Many of the inaccuracies can be attributed to the fact that the songwriters do not hail from Chicago, but from England. They admitted in interviews - most notably on "Beat Club" shortly after the song's release - that they had never been to the city itself, and that their sole knowledge of the city and that period of its history had been based on gangster films.

Covers and Popular References

*At many sporting events, the song is commonly played over the public address system to add humor and slight humiliation to visiting Chicago sports teams.Fact|date=May 2008

*The song was parodied in the 2000 John Cusack film "High Fidelity", in which Jack Black's character Barry alters the lyrics of the song: "The night Laura's daddy died, Sha-na-na-na-na-na-na, brother what a night it really was, brother what a night it...angina's tough. Glory be!"

*A cover was recorded by Banda Toro entitled "La Noche en que Chicago se murió".Fact|date=August 2007

*The band The Minus 5 recorded a song in 2004 entitled "The Night Chicago Died Again", about a fictional disastrous show by the band Chicago. It is on the album "In Rock".

*A Korean pop boy band, Super Junior K.R.Y, covered the song in Korean entitled "The Night Chicago Died" .

*Local Chicago radio DJ John Records Landecker did a parody of this song called "The Day that Dahmer Died" describing the death of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer on a CD full of parodies done by his band "Landecker and the Legends"

*The Thai band Pairoj released a version entitled Khor Tan Gor Mee Hua Jai (The Beggar Has a Heart) aka "The Night Chicago Died".

*'The night Chicago died' is the title of a set of short stories {ISBN 9781438900117)

*The Finnish pop-star Vicky Rosti made her recording debut with a Finnish-language cover of the song, named "Kun Chicago kuoli" (When Chicago died). The song remains popular to date.


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