TIFF Docs

The Terry Kath Experience

Michelle Sinclair

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Michelle Sinclair's debut documentary searches for the truth surrounding the life and untimely death of her father, Terry Kath, legendary guitarist and co-founder of the band Chicago.

"Color My World." "25 or 6 to 4." "If You Leave Me Now." "Saturday in the Park." From the late 1960s onward, the band Chicago released an unprecedented string of pop hits. Their music was sophisticated and irresistible, and it all began with songwriter and lead guitarist Terry Kath. Kath led a band that included horns and keyboards for a full, orchestral pop sound, and he was a brilliant, intuitive musician. In early 1978, at the height of Chicago's long domination of rock radio, Kath shot himself dead in a tragic accident. He left behind his band and his family, including a two-year-old daughter.

That daughter, Michelle Kath Sinclair, grew up both anguished by the loss of her father and fascinated by his short life. With access to footage, photos, and letters that have never before been made public, she designed this documentary film as a search for meaning. What inspired Kath, a largely self-taught musician, to such a level of musical complexity that he could play guitar solos that are still studied by musicians? What allowed him to compose intricate songs in multiple time signatures, including passages in mind-bending 19/8 time? At the same time, what drove Kath to his reckless immersion in drugs and his macabre fascination with guns?

For music fans, The Terry Kath Experience is manna from heaven. Sinclair shows how her father customized his guitars to deliver exactly the sound he wanted, while Kath's contemporaries articulate what made him such a remarkable guitar player. Original Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine is especially moving on Kath's musicianship and his humanity. Sinclair is a DJ as well as a filmmaker; when she goes on a quest to track down the long-lost guitars her dad used on all those classic tracks, it's both a search for vintage gear and a hunt for a tangible piece of her father's memory.

CAMERON BAILEY

location_on Scotiabank 11

verified_user Industry

location_on Winter Garden Theatre

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