Established in 1961, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by frontman Alberts Legzdiņš (1933-2017) and associates, Čikāgas piecīši became a hit band among the Latvian diaspora in the US and Canada.
With tapes making it past the Soviet censors, the witty and often wistfully nostalgic songs of Čikāgas piecīši eventually became underground classics in Latvia proper.
They introduced local audiences to Latvian-language covers of the Limelighters, Bob Dylan and others. A smash concert in 1989 in Rīga attracted an audience of about 100,000 with the band finding crowds in Latvia singing along to their songs thanks to underground tape proliferation.
Streips was a musician and microbiologist working at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. He is a benefactor to the Vītols Fund and there's a scholarship for Latvian students in the name of Streips and his wife Eleonora.