Chicago’s Longest-Tenured Guitarist Has Left the Band
Chicago guitarist and singer Keith Howland announced his retirement from the band after almost 27 years, noting that a recent accident heralded the “next chapter” of his career.
The band was reported to have subsequently hired Tony Obrohta, a member of former singer Peter Cetera’s solo group, as his replacement. Obrohta had been standing in for Howland since he injured his arm on Nov. 15 during Chicago’s current tour. The development comes after they announced a co-headlining tour with Brian Wilson for next summer.
In a statement posted by Howland on a private Facebook fan page, he wrote: “As you all know, I broke my arm just before we were supposed to go on stage in Louisville. I have given serious thought in the last few weeks and honestly as to what my future might look like. I can’t play the guitar right now, and it’s probably going to be several months before I can get back to anything normal.”
He added that "at this point, I have decided to move on to the next chapter in my life. I will no longer be performing with Chicago. You may see me pop up musically here and there, but we shall see how that comes to fruition. I am extremely grateful for the 27 years that Chicago has given me musically. I am honored and blessed to be part of the legacy that is Chicago. … I love you all, and I will be seeing you.”
Chicago management confirmed Howland's departure but declined further comment. The change was not immediately announced by Chicago, but Howland's name was removed from their website's lineup page. The band's Wikipedia page also now lists him as a former member and Obrohta as a current one.
Speaking in 2020, Howland reflected on his arrival in 1995, telling Boomer City: “The guys were into their 50s and the band had been around for 30 years or something. … I thought, ‘Well, you know, if I get five years out of this thing, that would be great.’ It just kept going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny.”
Asked about the legacy he’d like to leave, he replied: “I'd hope that people would remember me as somebody who sort of helped to perpetuate the legacy of a great Hall of Fame rock 'n' roll band, just by sheer commitment and longevity. And I hope people remember me as a good guy and a good, good father. That's kind of all you can hope for.”