Since first blowing out of Rockford, Illinois, to reinvigorate American rock
'n' roll with a unique brand of high-powered pop, the colorful quartet
of Rick Nielsen (guitars), Robin Zander (voices, guitars), Bun E. Carlos
(drums) and Tom Petersson (basses) has never stopped adding to its achievements.
They've gotten onstage with
Smashing Pumpkins, backed Move
wizard Roy Wood, recorded with...John Lennon, wreaked fandemonium on
tour in America and Japan and worked with producers as diverse as George
Martin and Todd Rundgren.
can point to four platinum albums ("Cheap
Trick at Budokan" reached triple-platinum) and three gold LPs, a
number-one single ("The Flame"), seven other Top 40 hits and a
gold-certified video compilation entitled "Every
Trick in the Book." In addition, they've created original
soundtrack songs for numerous films, including "Roadie,"
"Up the Creek," "Spring Break," "Caddyshack II,"
"Encino Man," "Heavy Metal," "Say Anything,"
"American Gladiator" and the animated "Rock & Rule."
Cheap Trick is one veteran band that still makes
stardom look like fun. Nielsen remains the guitar hero for a warped
universe, prancing around, shouldering a different axe for each song,
making faces and flicking bag-loads of picks into crowds as souvenirs.
Petersson slings 12-string basses as if the massive instruments were
easy to play, and Zander sings with more accurate energy than a
heat-seeking missile. Behind them all, Bun E. Carlos keeps the beat with
In addition to working with executive producer Bruce
Dickinson on the assembly and packaging of the "Sex,
America, Cheap Trick" box set, the group continues to bring its
checkerboard showmanship to concert stages all over the world. Nielsen,
Petersson, Carlos and Wisconsin native Zander all grew up in Rockford,
coming of Midwest age just as the British Invasion hit. Inspired by
English rock, they did what a lot of other young music fans did – picked
up instruments and formed bands. In between research and recreation
trips of various sorts to Europe and elsewhere, Petersson and Nielsen
made their long-playing debuts on a 1969 album by Fuse, and subsequently
launched Sick Man of Europe with Carlos and Robert "Stewkey"
Antoni, the former singer of Nazz.
Upon Zander's induction to the band in 1974, Sick Man
of Europe became Cheap Trick, and Midwest clubs were soon rocking to
"The Ballad of Richard Speck," "ELO Kiddies" and
"He's a Whore." With a vivid image, a great singer and more
instruments than a music store, Cheap Trick brought arena-scaled
flamboyance to the unsigned band circuit, and became the area's biggest
local attraction. After being sold on the idea by producer Jack Douglas
(who had seen the group play in a bowling alley), Epic signed the group
in 1976, and released its self-titled album the following February. The
roaringly weird debut got great reviews but didn't sell; the more
pop-conscious follow-up, "In
Color" and "In Black and White," (despite containing
the original studio version of "I Want You to Want Me"), met
roughly the same fate.
Between January 1977 and January 1978, Cheap Trick
played 179 concerts before nearly a million people. Within days of
returning from that year-long trek, the band cut "Heaven
Tonight" on a rushed four-week schedule before flying off for a
European tour. In April '78, just as "Heaven
Tonight" (leading off with the classic "Surrender")
was being released, Cheap Trick toured Japan, where "In
Color" had already gone gold. Three shows were recorded for a
live album to be released in Japan only, but "Cheap
Trick at Budokan" became a phenomenally popular import in the
U.S., where it was belatedly released and went on to sell three million
copies. The live version of "I Want You to Want Me" became the
band's first American Top 10 hit, followed by a cover of Fats Domino's
"Ain't That a Shame."
In 1979, Cheap Trick released the ambitiously
Police," its fifth album in less than three years. In 1980, the
band recorded "All
Shook Up" with Beatles producer George Martin, and then bid
adieu to Petersson, who took a seven-year hiatus, rejoining the group in
time to make "Lap
of Luxury." That 1988 album reinvigorated Cheap Trick's
commercial stature when "The Flame," a ballad, reached number
one; the album's cover of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel"
also became a Top 5 single. (In the meantime, the group had sequentially
employed bassists Pete Comita and Jon Brant and had released four
albums: 1982's "One
on One," produced by Roy Thomas Baker; 1983's "Next
Position Please," produced by Todd Rundgren; 1985's "Standing
on the Edge," produced by Jack Douglas; and 1986's "The
Doctor," produced by Tony Platt.)
In the wake of its resurgent stardom, Cheap Trick
made "Busted" in 1990, and then ended its career-long tenure
with Epic Records. That move sparked a greatest hits collection salted
with a new cover of the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" in
1991 and a second disc of vintage live tracks (Budokan
II) in 1994. Zander made a solo album with an all-star cast of
collaborators in 1993. The band then moved to Warner Bros. and released
"Woke Up With a Monster" in 1994. The group subsequently
contributed an imaginative cover of "Cold Turkey" to "Working
Class Hero," a John Lennon tribute record and re-recorded
"Come On, Come On" from "In Color" and changed it to
"Come On Christmas" for a Rockford charity CD.
In 1996, still without a label, Cheap
Trick recorded a stunning 3-song demo which got passed around with a
mini-bidding war ensuing. Red Ant Entertainment, a new independent
label, offered Cheap Trick a deal and their own imprint, Cheap
The band took them up on it and recorded an
album with Ian Taylor ("One
on One") that critics and fans agreed was one of their finest.
In February, 1997, Sub Pop Records released a limited edition Cheap
Trick single produced by Steve Albini. This sold-out, vinyl-only
recording featured a cover of The Move's "Brontosaurus" and an
original, "Baby Talk." In April, 1997, their self-titled album
was released by Red Ant. The band deemed this the first record of the
second half of their career.
1998 saw Cheap Trick part company with Red Ant. Robin recorded
"Automatic Soup" for the movie soundtrack "First Love,
Last Rites." The soundtrack, assembled by the band Shudder To
Think, also featured guest appearances by other artists such as Billy
Corgan, Liz Phair, Jeff Buckley and John Doe among others. Rick appeared
in Michael Moore's movie, "The Big One."
Cheap Trick hit the road with a variety of
different shows during the year: special "Budokan" shows to
commemorate the 20th anniversary of the "Cheap
Trick at Budokan" album and "three-night-stand" shows in
select cities where the band performed their first three albums ("Cheap
Color" and "Heaven
consecutive evenings to sold out crowds. These amazing shows lead to the
release of 1999's "Music
For Hangovers," recorded over a three night stint at Chicago's
Metro in 1998.
In 1999, Cheap Trick celebrated their 25th anniversary...in
style. Holding court for 15,000 rabid Cheap Trick fans at
Rockford's Davis Park, the three-hour bash found the band performing
"every Trick in the book" – a song from every Cheap Trick
album! A number of special guests were on-tap to join in the fun –
Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins),
Slash (Guns N'
Roses), Art Alexakis (Everclear),
Jon Brant (Cheap Trick's bassist in the mid-'80s, now a leading
advertising music player) and the Nielsen and Zander offspring, plus
members of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, the Harlem High School Choir
from Loves Park, Illinois, and Rockford’s Phantom Regiment Drum Corp.
The resulting two-CD set, titled "Silver,"
was released to overwhelming critical praise on February 27, 2001.
So what's next for Rockford's finest? Only time will tell. One thing is
certain – more great chords from four great guys.
Cheap Trick will keep on rocking through the new millennium!
Hit songs include --
- The Flame
- Can't Stop Fallin' Into Love
- Don't Be Cruel
- I Want You To Want Me
- Tonight It's You
- If You Want My Love
- Woke Up With A Monster
- Dream Police
- Back 'N Blue
- Ghost Town
- Ain't That A Shame
- Let Go
- Say Goodbye
- Everything Works If You Let It
- Saturday At Midnight
- Stop This Game
- Wherever Would I Be?
- She's Tight
Cheap Trick may be available for your next special event!
Genre: Rock 1
Genre: Rock 3
..70s, ..80s, ..90s, ..00s, ..10s
Formed: ..in Illinois