BERWYN – Not many people can say they had a chart-topping band perform at their high school reunion, but members of Morton West High School’s class of 1967 will be able to, as the Ides of March get ready to take the stage at the celebration this weekend.
This is the class’s 50th reunion, and two original band members, guitarist Larry Millas and bassist Bob Bergland, were in the class of 1967. Jim Peterik, the group’s singer, graduated in the class of 1968, and drummer Mike Borch was from the class of 1966. The four original members, plus keyboardist and Berwyn native Scott May, will all take the stage to play one set Oct. 14 at Drury Lane Theatre and Conference Center in Oakbrook Terrace.
Millas said he’s excited to play and see some old friends at the reunion.
“We’re happy to do this. I want to make them proud, and they’ll see that we’re still doing this,” he said. “It’s a sense of history and community pride. I feel blessed and thankful we’re still relevant and that people care. It’s pretty cool.”
John Balvich, reunion committee member from the class of 1967, said the Ides of March used to play at the school’s sock hops.
“They were our classmates, and we’re proud of them. They still play all over at venues big and small. They’re entertainers, no doubt about it, and in some way, they were the face of our class,” he said. “They’re regular guys, but they’re still rocking after all these years. We’re all proud of each other at Morton West.”
Millas founded the Ides of March while he and the other original three members were students at Morton West. The band had a top 10 hit in Chicago, “You Wouldn’t Listen,” while they were still in school.
Their biggest hit, “Vehicle,” reached the top of the charts in Chicago and several other cities in 1970, and it was a Top 40 hit nationally. During the late 1960s, the band played with some of the greatest musicians in rock history, including Jimi Hendrix, the Byrds, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin.
Millas said the band members would fly out to play a gig Friday night, return Sunday night and head back to class Monday morning. He said many of the other students at the school weren’t aware of what the band was doing.
“We didn’t walk around like rock stars. We had longish hair and just tried to stay out of trouble,” he said. “When we were in school, everyone was just a kid, and the others had no sense of what we were doing.”
In 2010, the band started a scholarship fund at the high school titled “A Vehicle for Education.” Every year, money is awarded to a Morton West student who is pursuing an art field in college.
The reunion committee is donating the band’s booking fee to the scholarship fund.
“It’s the right thing for us to do. Kids need help, and we know that better than anyone," Millas said. "We want to support future generations, and this is a way we can do that."
While the reunion isn’t open to the public, the band still plays shows all over the country. Millas said he does see some members of his high school class and their families at his shows, which he is grateful for.
“Attendance has grown at every show, and we’re reaching a third generation of fans. We appeal to a wide age range,” he said. “We keep on changing things up. We want to entertain, and we love what we’re doing.”
Members of the Morton West High School class of 1967 can find reunion information at https://il01904869.schoolwires.net/domain/40.