Born into the American Midwest’s cradle of blues: Chicago. Pete Thelen spent his first seventeen years listening to rock and roll and raising a bit of hell, before leaving home to join the Army. Thankfully, Uncle Sam sent him to Germany, and he got his first taste of the wider world that would come to influence so much of his life and art.
When Pete returned stateside, he started his music career as part of the Here After, with a few old friends from his hometown, Wheaton, IL. But after chasing the dream, life intervened, with its marriages, children, and responsibilities. So, he hung up his microphone, traded it in for a briefcase and a more respectable wardrobe, and found himself building a hospital in Riyadh and managing skyscrapers on Michigan Avenue.
The songs in Pete’s head neither faded or subsided, and he started writing and producing music as part-owner of Crystal Recording. With the studio’s co-owner Charlie Prazma, Pete co-wrote “Welcome Home,” honoring Vietnam Veterans. Chuck Britton at WLS in Chicago featured the song as part of the POW/MIA campaign in the 1980’s.
Now, the latest creation of harmonic wisdom, Best for Last is, in fact another beginning, to another chapter of a life lived.
When we recently reviewed the video for the track “Thought Passing Through” he said in commentary, “I chose this song because it speaks to how I feel when I leave the family I love, to do what I love. It’s a dilemma for me as an artist. I chose my dear friend Hans Christian on cello to play the lead instrumental part, because I knew he could capture how I was feeling, with his soulful, melancholy touch.”.
Best for Last is full of titles that sound “simple” but say so much more, “Lost & Found”, “Move On”, “Part Time Love”, “You Make It Easy”, “New Pain” … to just name a few, but the wisdom is found in the words he sings and the music he plays, with his work, you must read between the lines and each letter of every word, there the meanings are clear as a bell.
Pete also commented on some of his past journeys, “In 2004 I left my wife and family to join the Dinosaurs in the Valley of the Sun for two months playing the clubs around ASU, and a gig that was near and dear to us, a fund-raising gig for Paz de Cristo a food pantry in Mesa, where they feed the homeless 365 days a year. For years it was at another dear friends “Mustang Sally Kellett” in Tempe. That is the place where the course of The Dinosaurs changed forever. Chicago Blues Legend, and Howlin’ Wolf’s Drummer, Chico Chism, showed up and we backed him for a couple of songs. We became the best of friends; I loved him like my brother, and we backed him several times over the years. I saw him in Chicago at Kingston Mines circa1976, after Wolf died. Who would have thought we’d become best friends twenty years later? We moved the benefit to The Rhythm Room in Phoenix, owned by famous harp player Bob Corritore and managed by one of the nicest people, Mona Lisa Watkins. “
Pete Thelen’s voice and charm has captivated his fans through the years and continues to bring light into some of the darkest shadows, and with a road worn wisdom he sings from the heart.
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