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Cheap Trick

Combining a love for British guitar pop songcraft with crunching power chords and a flair for the absurd, Cheap Trick provided the necessary links between '60s pop, heavy metal, and punk. Led by guitarist Rick Nielsen, the band's early albums were filled with highly melodic, well-written songs that drew equally from the crafted pop of the Beatles, the sonic assault of the Who, and the tongue-in-cheek musical eclecticism and humor of the Move. Their sound provided a blueprint for both power pop and arena rock; it also had a surprisingly long-lived effect on both alternative and heavy metal bands of the '80s and '90s, who often relied on the same combination of loud riffs and catchy melodies.

Cheap Trick's roots lie in Fuse, a late-'60s band formed by Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson in Rockford, IL. The group released an album on Epic Records in 1969; after the record failed to gain any attention, the band relocated to Philadelphia and changed their name to Sick Man of Europe. The group toured Europe unsuccessfully in 1972 and returned to Illinois in 1973. Not long after their return to Rockford, Nielsen and Petersson changed their band's name once more -- this time to Cheap Trick -- and added drummer Bun E. Carlos and vocalist Randy "Xeno" Hogan to the lineup. Hogan was fired the following year, making room for ex-folksinger Robin Zander to join the group. Between 1975 and the band's first album in 1977, Cheap Trick toured constantly, playing over 200 concerts a year while occasionally opening for the likes of the Kinks, Kiss, Santana, AC/DC, and Queen. During this time, the band built up a solid catalog of original songs that would eventually comprise their first three albums; they also perfected their kinetic live show.

Cheap Trick signed with Epic Records in 1976 and released their self-titled debut early the following year. The record sold well in America, yet it failed to chart. However, the group became a massive success in Japan, and the album went gold upon release. Later that year, the band released their second album, In Color. It backed away from the harder-rocking side of Cheap Trick, featuring slicker production and quieter arrangements that spotlighted the band's melodic skills instead. Due to their constant touring, the record made it into the U.S. charts, peaking at number 73. It became another gold-seller in Japan, however, where the musicians had become virtual superstars. Their Japanese concerts began selling out within two hours, and they packed the sizable Budokan Arena.

Cheap Trick's concerts at Budokan Arena were recorded for possible release, although the live album didn't appear until the band's third album, 1978's Heaven Tonight, was first released. That third album captured both the loud, raucous energy of Cheap Trick's debut and the hook-laden songcraft of In Color, leading to their first Top 100 single, "Surrender," which peaked at number 62. However, the live performances on At Budokan (1979) captured the band's energetic, infectious live show, resulting in their commercial breakthrough in America. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, peaking at number four and eventually selling over three million copies. Meanwhile, a live version of "I Want You to Want Me" became their first Top Ten hit. Later that year, the group released their fourth studio album, Dream Police, which followed the same stylistic approach of Heaven Tonight. It also followed At Budokan into the Top Ten, selling over a million copies and launching the Top 40 hit singles "Voices" and "Dream Police." In the summer of 1980, the group released an EP of tracks recorded between 1976-1979 called Found All the Parts.

Following the recording of the George Martin-produced All Shook Up, Petersson left the group in the summer of 1980 to form a group with his wife, Dagmar. He was replaced by Jon Brant. Released toward the end of 1980, All Shook Up performed respectably, peaking at number 24 and going gold, yet the single "Stop This Game" failed to crack the Top 40. One on One, the group's seventh album and the first recorded with Brant, appeared in 1982. Although it peaked at number 39, the record was more successful than All Shook Up, eventually going platinum. Nevertheless, the group was entering a downhill commercial slide, despite the fact that its music was becoming increasingly polished. Next Position Please, released in 1983, failed to launch a hit single and spent only 11 weeks on the charts. Standing on the Edge (1985) and The Doctor (1986) suffered similar fates, as the group was slowly losing its creative spark.

Petersson rejoined the band in 1988 and the group began working on a new record with the help of several professional songwriters. The resulting record, Lap of Luxury, was a platinum Top 20 hit, featuring the number one power ballad "The Flame" and a Top Ten version of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel." Busted, released in 1990, wasn't as successful as Lap of Luxury, peaking at number 48 and effectively putting an end to the group's commercial comeback.

Cheap Trick soldiered into the new decade by signing with Warner Brothers in 1994 and releasing Woke Up with a Monster, which peaked at number 123 and spent two weeks on the albums chart. That same year, Epic Records released a sequel to At Budokan, aptly titled Budokan II. Compiled from the same shows as At Budokan, the record served as an an effective reminder of why the group had become so popular in the late '70s.

In 1995, Cheap Trick asked to leave Warner's roster after the label's chief executives, Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, departed. The band then decided to go back to the basics, and several alt.rock superstars who had been influenced by Cheap Trick gave the band opportunities to restore its reputation. The Smashing Pumpkins had the band open their tour in 1995, and the group played several dates on the 1996 Lollapalooza Tour. That same year, the box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick appeared to positive reviews, and the band signed with the fledgling indie label Red Ant-Alliance before setting to work on a new album. Early in 1997, the group released a Steve Albini-produced single on Sub Pop, which was followed by the eponymous Cheap Trick, their acclaimed debut for Red Ant-Alliance, in the spring. Unfortunately, Red Ant-Alliance filed for bankruptcy seven weeks after the album's release, sadly putting a sudden halt on the group's building momentum.

On April 30, 1998, the group launched a four-night residence in Chicago, devoting each show to reprising one of their first four albums in its entirety. Those shows later yielded a 1999 live LP, Music for Hangovers, which the musicians issued on their own Cheap Trick Unlimited label. A band-authorized hits collection followed in 2000. By the dawn of the new millennium, Cheap Trick were still without a label, but had retained their loyal following by continually touring the world. Appropriately, another live set saw the light of day in 2001. Entitled Silver, the double-disc album (and companion DVD) documented the band's star-studded, career-spanning 25th anniversary show from August 28, 1999. The band also recorded another studio album, released in 2003 as Special One. It was followed in 2006 by Rockford, named in tribute to the band's hometown, and then The Latest in 2009. Cheap Trick also maintained a heavy touring ethic, canvassing America that summer alongside Def Leppard and releasing their tribute to the Beatles with Sgt. Pepper Live. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Great album
Yes I actually am a California man...
dragonlady60 8 8
love this
I want you to want me
Glad to say my hime town band
An okay band that gets a hit or two throughout the years.
Yes I am!
Got hooked after i bought Live at Budokan LP....almost 30 plus years ago....
Nice songs
The dream police strip search you first then asked questions... k i n d a like it though
Saw them all over the Chicago/Rock f o r d area in the day.
Freaking luv this song!!!
Southern girls you got nothing to lose...
Love Cheap Trick!!!
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and you lovers name will appear on the screen in big letter this is so scary because it actually works
I remember telling my friends in 70's that cheap trick would outlast the beatles
er meh gersh! i love top gun!
ABSOLUTELY LOVE I WANT YOU 2 Want me!!! what a great sing out loud song!!!
I love you to love me,
I'm begging you to beg me

They have so many song I just love. Starts with Hot Love, and on every
release since I can find songs I love...even The Doctor has Take Me To The Top
Proud to say bif fan and from there home town seen them in concert many times never a let down
Come on come on. Well I know you can do it...
Nothing like CHEAP TRICK.
Southern girls you got nothing to lose
This reminds me of someone and you know who you are
One of the best song in my life!!!
Reminds me of Dawson creek chad Michael singing to mrs cruise
push it push it blow it out of orbit booomm!
In Color is still one of my fav albums ever. And the album cover. good god.
I saw them last night in new hampshire still awesome!
Still one of the best groups to see live.
saw them in the 70s on a Wednesday night at a bar called Beginnings in Schaumberg, It was owned by drummer for Chicago. Cheap Trick had just been released, and the place was packed. Everyone knew the band was on its way up and this would be the last time they would play in a place this small. Their attention was focused on the band. I had seen them before this and several times since, but this is still my favorite, PS I still have several Cheap Trick guitar picks.
Saw them in concert today:) I may have been born in 2001 and being 12, but I loved it... They are my favorite 80s band:)
this is one of the songs/soundt r a c k s from the movie Joe dirt i think this was the very last song at the end of the movie
one of my favorite songs from cheap trick
way of the world !
Love this version!!!
Mighty Wings, fly me back to the 80's!!!!
One of the best Live albums
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works.
After hearing the studio release of I Want You to Want Me (on In Color)- I can see why it took the live release (Budokan) to hit it big. Good to see that they dropped the sappy pop sound for the energy rock.
Mighty Wings is the most awesome song on the Top Gun album.
Saw them at a club in Charlottesvi l l e , Virginia back in 95, I think it was. It was like being in the 10th grade for a while. Priceless!
Thank You Cheap Trick for your music and for the Live at Budokan release especially.
Saw them in concert the other Perfect
Cheap Trick brings back junior high memories for me. I got into them when the Heaven Tonight album came out in '78. Not one bad song on that record. Saw them live in San Diego on New Year's Eve in '80, Tom had just left the group but the show was still great. Fun memories :)
How does this band only have 1,846 likes?
So many bands have been influenced by this great group from the Foo Fighters to Guns & Roses to Everclear to the Smashing Pumkpins, how are they not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? You will never see a better live band, period! To top it off they're nice guys.
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