Peter Michael Special, 62, of Forest Park, died May 11. Pete was born in Chicago, May 11, 1952 and spent his school years in Wheaton. His first position as guitarist was in his older brother Phil’s band, which also included the young John Belushi. After high school, Pete spent a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. Leaving Madison, Pete relocated to Carbondale, where there was a fertile music scene. It was there that Pete became dedicated to his life’s work in music, going on to touch thousands of lives with his musical gift.
In Carbondale, Pete formed Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, serving as bandleader, songwriter, and guitarist. From Carbondale, the group headed north to Chicago to pursue their fortune. Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows recorded two albums for Flying Fish Records, followed by three releases on the prestigious Chicago-based Blues label, Alligator Records. The band toured nationally, and was a huge presence especially in the Midwestern music scene.
Parting with the Mellow Fellows, Pete toured with The Band, sharing stages nightly with legends Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson.
Pete spent the last two decades of his life firmly rooted in the Chicago music scene, and enjoyed a solo career that included a larger R&B-based band with a horn section as well as a 4-piece group concentrating on roots music and Americana styles. Albums released in this period of his career were Mozart Street and Blue Telephone. Pete spent his final day playing with friends and passed peacefully in the night.
Pete is preceded in death by his father Peter and sister Nancy. He is survived by his mother Nancy, wife Tricia and her children Rebecca and Aaron; brother Phil; son Peter and daughter Nolan.
A memorial celebration of Pete’s life is being planned, with details to follow.