Jason Scheff 

Leader • Legacy • Mentor

By Randy Patterson, Boomerocity.com

Jason Scheff. Son of Jerry Scheff, legendary bassist for Elvis, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Chris Hillman, and so many others.

At age 23, young Jason joined Chicago, replacing Peter Cetera. 

Chicago. At age 23. Wow.

Jason held that position for 31 years until his departure from the legendary band in 2016. It’s Jason’s voice that we hear on the band’s 1986 remake of their 1970 hit single “25 or 6 to 4” and “Will You Still Love Me.” 

After his departure, Jason joined Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Denny Laine (of Wings fame), and Badfinger’s Joey Molland for a tour of “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today – A Tribute to the Beatles White Album.”

He has also donated a significant amount of time performing for charities. It was at one such event that I first met Jason, as well as his son. Backstage at a 2019 Nashville fundraiser hosted by Jason’s dad’s former bandmate: the legendary James Burton, we had a brief conversation and parted ways agreeing that an interview was in order.

Fast forward to today.

With Rascal Flatts’ bassist, Jay DeMarcus, Jason has formed the super group Generation Radio with Journey drummer, Deen Castronovo, and guitarists Chris Rodriguez and Tom Yankton. The band’s sound brings to mind Chicago, Eagles, and, yes, Rascal Flatts, as well as Journey. It is this unique sound that will make Generation Radio THE new band to seek out in 2022-2023 and beyond.

The new band’s self-titled debut album landed last month, giving Jason and me the perfect excuse to set up an interview. Before chatting about Generation Radio and the new album, I brought up Jason’s legendary father.

“I’m going to be able to get to hang out with my dad for a good three weeks when he comes out here in August for Elvis Week along with my other brothers and one of my sons will be there. My father is just amazing.”

The subject shifted to Generation Radio, and Jason shared the backstory to its creation.

“Well, going back to the very beginning, Jay DeMarcus played the Washington State Fair in 2002 with Rascal Flatts two days before Chicago. The lady who runs the event, who I’ve gotten to know over the years, said, ‘Jason, do you know who Rascal Flatts is?’ and I said no, that I was really not into country. She said, ‘Well, they’re big fans of you guys, and they’re so excited that they sold the grandstand out and knew you were going to be here a couple of nights later. Jay wanted me to give this to you.’ 

“She gave me their CD with a letter. I thought I was going to open the letter and it would say ‘Dear Chicago,’ but it said ‘Dear Jason, I’m a bass player in a band called Rascal Flatts. I’m a huge fan of Chicago. That’s what made me want to play music. And I’m a big fan of yours. I’ve followed your years with the band.’ 

“That was the moment for me where I realized wow, this is my legacy now. I grew up on Chicago in the ’70s. When I joined the band in ’85, I thought – along with a lot of other people – this is probably not going to work. I mean, come on, this kid is just not on this level. But something happened on the way to the office that I felt comfortable going in the studio with David Foster, and the rest is history.” 

From that humbling letter with the Rascal Flatts CD, a close friendship began.

When Rascal Flatts decided to take a sabbatical just before the pandemic hit, Jason and Jay started laying the groundwork for Generation Radio. With friendships with Journey’s Dean Castronovo, as well as Tom Yankton and Chris Rodriquez, everything began to gel.

Jason remembered, “The whole concept Jay always had was ‘Let’s put a band together with the talent levels of like an Eagles, where everybody sings strong, everybody writes.’ And that’s what we did.”

When asked if there were any surprises as the band and its new album came together, Jason replied, “I was not surprised because of the talent that we’re bringing to the table. Because you’re kind of going, ‘You shouldn’t be surprised that it turned out like it did.’ But when you actually hear it – Surprise, Surprise, Sergeant Carter. It’s like, wow! We knew from the first notes we played in the studio, and it was just coming back, feeling so great.”

You can watch the interview with Jason Scheff, where he talks about his friendship with Doors guitarist, Robbie Krieger, Generation Radio’s album sound being a throwback to a “kinder, gentler time,” and his conversations with current Journey lead singer, Arnel Pineda, on Boomerocity.com. You can also check out more info on the band at their website, GenerationRadio.net, and JasonScheff.com.