The Night Chicago Died

May 25, 2024

This month I’m focusing on One Hit Wonders of the 70s.

Today our song is:  The Night Chicago Died

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

"The Night Chicago Died" is about a shoot-out between the Chicago Police and gangsters tied to Al Capone. It was inspired by the real-life Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, although that involved Capone's men killing seven of Bugs Moran's gang members and had nothing to do with the police. No confrontation large enough to leave around one hundred police deaths ever happened. Al Capone was arrested in 1932 for income tax evasion.

The song's events supposedly take place "on the East Side of Chicago". Chicago has three commonly referred-to regions: the North Side, the West Side and the South Side. There is no East Side, as Lake Michigan is immediately east of Downtown Chicago. While there is an area of Chicago known as "East Side", it is a neighborhood on the Far South Side on the Illinois/Indiana state line. East Side is also several miles away from where Capone lived on Prairie Avenue in Chicago. Furthermore, in the 1920s, East Side was known for being a quiet, residential, and predominantly Eastern European neighborhood—a sharp contrast from the site of the bloodbath described in the song.

Songwriters Peter Callender and Mitch Murray said in interviews (most notably on Beat Club shortly after the song's smash success) that they had never been to Chicago before that time, and that their knowledge of the city and that period of its history had been based on gangster films. (Callender defended his interpretation of Chicago's geography by saying, "There's an East Side of everywhere!")

As reported by

" England there were at least a few young men that didn’t have all the facts straight, and in the 1970s their pop group from Nottingham turned their romantic misunderstanding of American history into a historically dubious yet gloriously catchy hit record. Though it was never intended for the American market, Paper Lace’s "The Night Chicago Died" crossed the Atlantic and became a #1 hit on the U.S. pop charts..."

Paper Lace sent the song to the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, who greatly disliked it. A member of Daley's staff is quoted as saying that Paper Lace should "jump in the Chicago River, placing your heads under water three times and surfacing twice. Pray tell us, are you nuts?”



  1. That's old man Daley, not his son, who was also dah Great Mare of Chicagah...

  2. Yes...I absolutely l9ve this song but, when I was a kid, I didn't listen to the lyrics, so I thought it was about the great fire. I related it to a TV movie about the event where 2 drs go vack in time


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