James Pankow Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What Is James Pankow’s Net Worth?

James Pankow, an American musician, songwriter, and producer, has a net worth of $20 million. He is best known for playing the trombone, writing songs, and arranging brass music. He is one of the founding members of the famous rock band, Chicago.

James Pankow’s fame comes from his exceptional skills in creating brass arrangements and his important role in Chicago’s brass and woodwind section, alongside Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider.

He co-founded Chicago in 1967 with other talented musicians like Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Danny Seraphine, and Lee Loughnane. The band has achieved tremendous success, selling over 100 million records and releasing classic albums such as “Chicago Transit Authority” (1969), “Chicago” (1970), “Chicago at Carnegie Hall” (1971), “Twenty 1” (1991), and “Chicago XXXVI: Now” (2014).

Besides playing the trombone, Pankow is also known for writing hit songs like “Colour My World,” “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” and “Make Me Smile.” In 2016, Chicago was honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the following year, James Pankow was recognized for his songwriting talents as he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Pankow’s influence extends beyond music; he served as the executive producer for the 2016 documentary “Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago,” which received acclaim at the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival and the Sedona International Film Festival.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:


James Pankow

Net Worth:

$20 Million

Date of Birth:

Aug 20, 1947


$2 Million Per Year

Source of Wealth:

Songwriter, Musician, Actor, Music Arranger

James Pankow Net Worth

Learn more: richest singers in the world

Early Life, Family, and Education

James Pankow’s journey began in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was born into a big family with nine siblings. He’s also the older brother of actor John Pankow, known for “Mad About You.” When he was eight, the Pankow family moved to Park Ridge, Illinois.

Music was in his genes, thanks to his musician father, Wayne. He started playing the trombone at St. Paul of the Cross Elementary School. At Notre Dame High School, Father George Wiskirchen, CSC, guided his musical development.

James earned a full music scholarship to Quincy College, focusing on the bass trombone. However, after the first year, driven by his love for music, he formed a band that played local gigs. He then moved to DePaul University to pursue his musical dreams.

Notably, James Pankow is a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity. He received the National Citation and was honored as a Signature Sinfonian with his Chicago bandmates and fellow Sinfonians on August 26, 2009, for his musical talents and contributions.




While studying at DePaul University, James Pankow met Walter Parazaider, and this encounter marked the beginning of an extraordinary career. Parazaider invited him to join a band called “The Big Thing,” which eventually transformed into the legendary “Chicago Transit Authority.” After their first album, they simplified their name to just “Chicago.” Since that momentous decision, Pankow has remained a devoted member of Chicago, making significant contributions to its musical legacy.

In addition to showcasing his trombone talents, Pankow is a prolific songwriter. He has penned many of Chicago’s hits, including timeless classics like “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World” (both part of his suite “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon”), as well as “Just You ‘N’ Me,” “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” “Old Days,” “Alive Again,” and a collaborative effort with Peter Cetera on “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

Pankow also serves as the mastermind behind most of Chicago’s brass arrangements. While not primarily known for his vocals, he took the lead on two Chicago tracks: “You Are On My Mind” (from Chicago X, 1976) and “Till the End of Time” (Chicago XI, 1977).


James Pankow’s musical influence goes beyond Chicago. Alongside fellow Chicago horn players Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider, he played a significant role in Three Dog Night’s 1969 hit “Celebrate” and collaborated on several tracks from the 1979 Bee Gees album, “Spirits Having Flown.” Pankow’s talent has also graced albums by the rock band Toto, notably on their Grammy Award-winning 1982 release “Toto IV” and their 2006 album “Falling in Between.” For the latter, he not only composed brass arrangements but also performed on the song “Dying on My Feet.”

Personal Life

James Pankow has had two important chapters in his personal life:

In his first marriage to Karen, they were together for 18 years and had two children: Jonathan, born in 1981, and Sarah, born in 1986.

After his first marriage, James Pankow began a new chapter with his second wife, Jeanne Pacelli. Together, they had two more children: Carter, born in 1999, and Lilli, born in 2002.

Awards and Nominations

The iconic band Chicago has garnered recognition and awards throughout their remarkable career:

  1. Grammy Awards: They received 10 Grammy nominations and won Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus for “If You Leave Me Now” in 1977. Their nominations covered various categories, including Best New Artist (1970), Album of the Year for “Chicago” (1971), “Chicago X” (1977), and “We Are The World-USA For Africa/The Album” (1986), Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus (1971), Record of the Year for “If You Leave Me Now” (1977) and “Hard Habit To Break” (1985), and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” (1983) and “Hard Habit To Break” (1985).

  2. Grammy Hall of Fame: In 2014, their groundbreaking album “Chicago Transit Authority” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, recognizing its enduring impact on music history.

  3. Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award: In 2020, Chicago received the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, acknowledging their lasting contributions to music.

  4. American Music Awards: They won the title of Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group in 1977 and 1986 at the American Music Awards.

  5. Billboard Awards: In 1971, they received Billboard awards for Top Album Artist, Top Album Group, and the Trendsetter Award, cementing their place in the music industry.

  6. Hollywood Walk of Fame: In 1992, the band was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a lasting tribute to their impact on the entertainment world.

If you have doubts about our figures, you can read how we calculate a celebrity's net worth here. To stay updated with the latest celebrity news and changes in their net worth, subscribe to our newsletter.

Leave a Comment

Got a Tip About a Celebrity's Net Worth?