Rick Neilsen – circa 1979
“I can’t expect to be a household word” – ‘So Good To See You’ (Rick Nielsen)
American rock band Cheap Trick is on stage. Their audience is composed primarily of screaming teenage girls. The crowd is ecstatic, almost worshipping the musicians. But this scene is not taking place in the United States. Cheap Trick enjoys a certain level of success in their homeland, but not like this. Most of the crowd don’t even speak English. The gig is taking place at a venue called Nippon Budokan. Cheap Trick is in Japan.
The story of Cheap Trick begins with Rick Nielsen. Richard Alan Nielsen is born on 22 December 1948 in Elmhurst, Illinois, U.S.A. His parents are Ralph and Marilyn Nielsen. They are both opera singers. Ralph Nielsen is perhaps more successful than his wife. He also directs symphonies and choirs and, over the years, records over forty albums in his own right. Ralph and Marilyn Nielsen share another common interest: they each obtain a pilot’s licence. They have a private airplane.
During Rick Nielsen’s teens, his father owns Ralph Nielsen Music, a shop that sells musical instruments. This shop is situated in Rockford, Illinois. To the chagrin of at least some of its citizens, Rockford was once known as ‘the screw capital of the world’…because of the billions of screws, bolts and fasteners manufactured in Rockford’s factories. Rockford is destined to be the spiritual home of Cheap Trick. It is certainly the physical home of the Nielsen family. With parents in the music industry who own a music store, it is not really surprising that Rick Nielsen also develops an affinity for music. He learns to play a number of instruments. At first, Rick Nielsen plays drums but, after six years, switches to guitar and keyboards.
In 1961 Rick Nielsen begins playing locally with bands in Rockford, Illinois. His first school band is The Phaetons. This mutates into The Boyz before becoming The Grim Reapers.
Rick Nielsen is a fan of British rock band The Yardbirds. Like many guitar players, Nielsen is drawn to The Yardbirds because the group has three legendary guitarists in succession: (1) Eric Clapton (later of Cream), (2) Jeff Beck and (3) Jimmy Page (later of Led Zeppelin). “Jeff Beck…he’s my favourite guitar player,” says Nielsen.
Fuse is formed in 1967. Fuse is a merge of two bands: The Grim Reapers and Toast And Jam. The members of Fuse are: Joe Sundberg (vocals), Craig Myers (lead guitar), Rick Nielsen (guitar, keyboards), Tom Peterson (bass) and Chip Greenman (drums). Sundberg and Nielsen come from The Grim Reapers; the other three members of Fuse were in Toast And Jam. Note: Some sources claim that Tom Peterson also played with The Grim Reapers. The Rockford music scene is comparatively small so it is possible that Tom Peterson played some gigs with The Grim Reapers, perhaps even paving the way for the merger of the two bands. Tom Peterson is the only member of Fuse who will in later years go on to work with Rick Nielsen in Cheap Trick.
Tom Petersson (with a second ‘s’) is born Thomas John Peterson (with one ‘s’) on 9 May 1950. Tom’s mother is named Marge and he has a sister named Jane. Tom Peterson starts out playing rhythm guitar but soon switches to bass. He plays in a group called The Bo Weevils before moving on to Toast And Jam and then Fuse.
In 1969 the members of Fuse record an album. This is released as ‘Fuse’ (1970). The album is ‘little-noted’ and ‘unsuccessful.’ Chastened, Fuse goes through a membership shake-up. In 1970 Rick Nielsen and Tom Peterson joins forces with Robert ‘Stewkey’ Antoni (vocals, keyboards) and Thom Mooney (drums). These two musicians were in The Nazz (1967-1970), a psychedelic rock band, with Todd Rundgren (vocals, guitar) and Carson Van Osten (bass). The Nazz splintered as Rundgren went on to a successful solo career. The Nazz were based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so the reorganised Fuse moves to Philadelphia. The quartet plays gigs as Fuse and gigs as The Nazz, using both names as they see fit.
Around 1970 future Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen marries his wife, Karen. Rick and Karen go on to have four children, three sons and a daughter: Erron (the eldest), Miles (born 1975), Daxx and Scarlett (born 1988).
In 1971 drummer Thom Mooney leaves Fuse (a.k.a. The Nazz). He is replaced by the person who will come to be known as Bun E. Carlos.
Bun E. Carlos is born Brad M. Carlson on 12 June 1950 in Rockford, Illinois, U.S.A. His mother’s name is Vie and she plays piano in public performances at stores and clubs and the like. “I was into Paul Bunyan [the hero of many U.S. folk legends and tall tales] when I was about 4, so Bun and Bunyan were always my nicknames,” says Brad Carlson explaining the first part of his future stagename. Brad has a brother and a sister. Brad’s mother buys him his first snare drum in 1964. “She was my biggest fan,” he acknowledges. As Bun becomes a more professional musician, he gives his original drums to his little brother. Although Brad Carlson is left-handed, he alternates through his career with playing drums left-handed and right-handed. The confusion started when Bun went to one of his earliest rock shows, a gig by U.S. band The Beach Boys. Their drummer, Dennis Wilson, is right-handed, so Bun set up his kit in imitation of Dennis – even though Bun is naturally left-handed. So he becomes fairly ambidextrous as a drummer. At high school, Brad Carlson plays football. While Rick Nielsen is playing in The Grim Reapers, Brad Carlson plays drums with The Pagans, a rival band in Rockford. After The Pagans, he drums for Probe and then Lost Souls (the last-named go on to change their name to Albatross). Bun E. Carlos apparently marries but the name of his spouse and when they wed are not items of public knowledge.
In 1972 Fuse is superseded by the ‘short-lived’ Sick Man Of Europe. Rick Nielsen, Tom Peterson and Brad Carlson are all in this band. The group goes on tour in Europe in 1973. Bassist Tom Peterson decides to remain in Europe. This may explain why Rick Saluga is also credited as bass player for Sick Man Of Europe; he may have replaced Peterson. Sick Man Of Europe collapses in 1973.
Back in Rockford, Illinois, Rick Nielsen and Brad Carlson form a new band called Cheap Trick. The group’s lead vocalist is Randy Hogan (born Randall Curtis Hogan) a.k.a. Xeno. The quartet is completed by ‘someone now forgotten on bass.’ Rick Nielsen phones Tom Peterson in Europe and tells him the band is ‘on the brink of stardom.’ Tom Peterson files back to the U.S.A. and is ‘not amused’ when he finds Nielsen has exaggerated the situation a little. Well, more like a lot, really. In any case, Tom agrees to take over the role of bass player in Cheap Trick – and adds a second ‘s’ to his surname becoming Tom Petersson.
Why did the band decide on the name of Cheap Trick? There are a few different origins given for that appellation. After seeing a concert by British glam rock band Slade, bassist Tom Petersson commented that the group used ‘every cheap trick in the book’ as part of the act. Another account claims the band’s name came from a question it put to a Ouija board about what they should call the new act. The spirit world’s advice channelled through the Ouija board was ‘Cheap Trick.’ Guitarist Rick Nielsen says, “We used a bunch of different names and it [Cheap Trick] was the name that worked that week.”
Just after the group adopts the name of Cheap Trick, Ken Adamany – a Midwest booking agent – becomes the group’s manager. In high school, Adamany had played in a band with Steve Miller – who went on to become a rock star in his own right.
Cheap Trick begins to overhaul their visual image. Bun E. Carlos (Brad Carlson) explains how his distinctive look was created: “…I had really long hair and [guitarist] Rick [Nielsen] had long, straggly hair. The singer we had [i.e. Randy Hogan a.k.a. Xeno] and I went to Milwaukee and he knew a couple of hairdressers there and he wanted to date one. So we went up there and she cut and dyed his hair blonde and I got a [short] haircut. I got a shave and a haircut…I went to the Salvation Army [charity] and found some suits…I bought suits for like three bucks and they were really comfortable to drum in.” Since childhood, Bun or Bunyan have been the drummer’s nicknames, but now it goes up a level. “When we started Cheap Trick, [bassist] Tom [Petersson] started calling me Bun E. That’s when I said, ‘I need a professional name here.’ We had a Carlson, a Nielsen and a Petersson in the band. We sounded like a band of Swedish guys, so I changed my last name to Carlos. I figured if Ringo [Starr of 1960s British rock legends The Beatles, a man who was born Richard Starkey] could do it [i.e. adopt a stagename], I could too.” Bespectacled and moustached, the rotund Carlos looks more like a used car salesman than a rock musician. He also fabricates a jokey past as the son of a Venezuelan industrialist.
Cheap Trick’s guitarist Rick Nielsen too opts for a new image. As drummer Bun E. Carlos explained, earlier Nielsen ‘had long, straggly hair.’ Now his close-cropped locks are perpetually obscured by his ever-present baseball caps with the brims upturned. Nielsen is also notable for his goggle eyes, silly expressions, bow ties and hand-knitted novelty sweaters (i.e. jumpers or pullovers) and cardigans. It is said that Nielsen’s stage appearance is based on Huntz Hall of The Bowery Boys, the stars of a series of tough kid comedy films from 1946 to 1958. Nielsen counters, “[Huntz Hall] that didn’t really influence me at all. That was thirty years ago. [The baseball caps just] looked good on me.”
With Randy ‘Xeno’ Hogan on vocals, Cheap Trick make their first demo recording in mid-1974. The song is called ‘Hot Tomato’. Parts of it are later recycled into their 1980 song ‘I’ll Be With You Tonight’.
In fall 1974, Randy ‘Xeno’ Hogan is fired as vocalist. In parting, he recommends an ex-folk singer named Robin Zander as his replacement.
Robin Zander is born on 23 January 1953 in Beloit, Wisconsin, U.S.A. Robin’s father comes from Dutch/German ancestry; his mother comes from Belgian/Welsh ancestry. Robin’s father is said to be an amateur jazz musician. Robin clarifies, “My father was indeed a musician, but he was a weekend warrior. He was a welder, actually, and worked all his life at the Ironworks in Beloit, Wisconsin, and he played in a swing band on weekends.” It is not only his father who influences Robin’s interest in music. “I’d get up in the morning and my mom would be playing country music on the radio, so I got it from all sides.” Robin Zander has two brothers, Leonard and John, and two sisters, Pamela and Shelly. “I was a young boy. A stock car guy used to live across the street from us. He’d work on his car, and both of my older brothers became gearheads,” Robin recalls. “The first single I bought was a Sam Cooke single [Cooke is an African-American pop singer] and I also used to steal my older sisters’ Elvis Presley singles [Presley is the 1950s King of Rock ‘n’ Roll]…I was 7, 8 years old and this was going on,” says Robin. Robin and his family move to Loves Park, Illinois, when he is 8 years old. It is the appearance on the television variety program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ by The Beatles in 1964 that inspires Robin to pick up a guitar. “It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that the British invasion had come,” Zander suggests. The ‘British invasion’ to which he refers is the influx of U.K. bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals who make inroads on the U.S. pop charts. Prior to this, Robin listened to “pop music, yes, but more stuff that my sister was listening to and my older brother.” He adds, “My dad was a jazz guy so I listened to a lot of instrumental music.” At high school, Robin Zander appears in school musicals and, for three years, sings with a vocal group called The Madrigals. During his high school years, Robin plays basketball and football and works part-time in a sandwich shop. His early bands include The Destinations, Butterscotch Sundae and The Hoods – but these are all ‘cover’ bands i.e. they don’t perform original material. In the case of Robin Zander’s groups, they perform cover versions of songs by the groups in the British invasion. Sometime around 1970 Robin Zander marries his first wife, Karen. They have two children: a daughter named Holland (born 1971) and a son named Ian. It’s not known when Robin and Karen split up, but the marriage is certainly over by 1993, perhaps considerably earlier. In the early 1970s, Robin Zander joins with piano player Brian Beebe to form Zander And Kent, a folk band. Robin turns down an invitation to join Cheap Trick in 1973 because Zander And Kent are playing a summer residency at the Piccadilly club in Wisconsin Dells. When the offer is extended to Zander a second time, it is accepted.
So it is that in the fall of 1974 the definitive line-up of Cheap Trick is assembled: Robin Zander (vocals, occasional guitar), Rick Nielsen (guitar, keyboards), Tom Petersson (bass) and Bun E. Carlos (drums).
Cheap Trick adapt quickly to their new frontman. Guitarist Rick Nielsen describes Robin Zander as his “favourite lead singer in the whole world.” For his part, Robin claims, “I brought more of a Beatles-meet-Roger Daltrey thing into the scheme.” (Roger Daltrey is lead vocalist for The Who, another band from the British invasion.) Listing his vocal influences as including Rod Stewart, Robert Plant [of heavy metal band Led Zeppelin], David Bowie and Harry Nilsson, Zander states, “I’m a chameleon. That’s my personality in the band…I always thought of singing as sort of what an actor would do in a movie…The great actors weren’t pigeon-holed into one type of character.”
Robin Zander’s presence also cements the visual image of Cheap Trick. The quartet now divides between two handsome, long-haired guys (blonde Robin Zander and dark-haired Tom Petersson) and two cartoon characters (Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos). “Nobody forced me to look any way. I just exaggerated what was already there,” says Zander. “Early on I was into David Bowie. Then someone in the band suggested I try a Bryan Ferry type of thing. [Ferry is the lead singer of Roxy Music, a 1970s British glam rock outfit.] That’s when I started wearing three-piece suits. It wasn’t unnatural for me,” says Zander.
Cheap Trick still have a long hard road ahead of them. Between 1975 and the release of their first album, Cheap Trick play over two hundred concerts a year. Many of these gigs are as the opening act for other bands. Guitarist Rick Nielsen says, “We toured with everybody – Kiss, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, AC/DC…” Other bands for which Cheap Trick play support slots include Journey, The Kinks, Santana and Queen.
Cheap Trick’s hard work and inventive stage presence pays off. Record producer Jack Douglas catches one of their shows in Wisconsin. Douglas convinces Tom Werman, the artists & repertoire man at Epic Records (a division of CBS) to offer the group a recording contract. Cheap Trick is signed to Epic in early 1976. Drummer Bun E. Carlos offers this humorous anecdote about their signing a record contract: “In April of 1976, Epic Records was flying out to sign us when I tripped over a light case after a gig and broke my arm. We called the next morning and said, ‘Don’t go to the airport, Bun E. broke his arm.’ They thought Mercury [Records] or someone was trying to sign us, so they offered us, like, twenty-five thousand dollars more on top of the deal.”
The sound of Cheap Trick is difficult to categorise. They have been described as hard rock, power pop and new wave. The hard rock element is probably most apparent in guitarist Rick Nielsen’s hammering power chords. The term power pop was first coined by Pete Townshend to describe early recordings of his group, The Who. It applies well to Cheap Trick too. They are perhaps too early or too old-fashioned for new wave, but this tag helps distinguish their rock classicism from most of their American peers. Vocalist Robin Zander offers this comment: “One minute we were a punk band and the next minute we’re a rock band and the next minute we’re a pop band…I don’t really know what we are except we’re just Cheap Trick.”
Guitarist Rick Nielsen is the chief songwriter in Cheap Trick. Unless otherwise indicated, all songs mentioned hereafter are written by Nielsen. “I think I’m more of a songwriter than a guitar hero,” he says. Rick Nielsen writes almost all material on the first few Cheap Trick albums. Following that, vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson co-write with Nielsen or, occasionally, write songs individually. There is also a group composition or two. A smattering of cover versions can also be found in the group’s catalogue. After a decade or so, Cheap Trick begin to record a number of outside compositions by professional songwriters.
The debut album, ‘Cheap Trick’ (1977) (US no. 207), is released in February. Like all their albums for the next couple of decades, this disc is released on the Epic label. ‘Cheap Trick’ is produced by Jack Douglas, the record producer who championed their cause and helped them obtain a recording contract. Although it doesn’t make the charts, the nominal single from this disc is ‘Oh Candy’. It’s a hard rock song, virtually heavy metal. “I didn’t expect for you to call me…You should have called me on the telephone…You just got so damned depressed / We all liked you except yourself, oh no, oh no,” runs part of the lyric. It seems like a fairly innocuous boy-loses-girl love song, but it has a darker subtext. ‘Oh Candy’ is about a friend of the band, photographer Marshall Mintz (a.k.a. M & M – a kind of candy) who committed suicide. Similarly metallic is ‘Elo Kiddies’ (as in ‘Hello Kiddies’). This track romps along as Robin Zander sings, “So you missed some school? / You know school’s for fools.” ‘Cheap Trick’ is recorded in a mere five weeks in an attempt by producer Jack Douglas to capture the energy of their live shows. However, the end result is perhaps ‘too rough to get the U.S. [radio] airplay needed for massive sales.’ Curiously, the album becomes ‘a massive success in Japan.’ In the cover photo for ‘Cheap Trick’, vocalist Robin Zander wears a tie, waistcoat and suit pants. His inclination towards formal wear swiftly begins to fade, and that inclination vanishes completely around the end of the 1970s.
The second Cheap Trick album, ‘In Color’ (1977) (US no. 73, AUS no. 93), is released in September, seven months after the group’s debut album. This disc is produced by Tom Werman, the Epic Records artists & repertoire man who signed the group. This album’s cover photo sets a template that will be followed on the next two albums: the two pretty boys in the band are on the front cover while the two wacky fellows are on the back cover. Vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson sit astride motorcycles in the front cover photo (in colour) with the album title ‘In Color’. ‘And in black and white’ it says on the upside down (black and white) photo of guitarist Rick Nielsen and drummer Bun E. Carlos sitting on mopeds on the back cover. This disc features the original version of ‘I Want You To Want Me’. Since that song has a more successful second life, there will be more on it later. “And all you Southern girls got a way with your words / And you show it,” sings Robin Zander on ‘Southern Girls’, a song co-written by guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson. A honky-tonk piano underpins the guitar chords on the chorus of the song. These two songs are the singles released in the U.S., although they fall on stony ground. ‘So Good To See You’ is released as a single only in the U.K. – though it is equally unsuccessful. It’s a blue sky pop song framed by crashing guitar chords. By contrast, ‘Clock Strikes Ten’ is released as a single in Japan – and reaches no. 1 on the pop charts of that country. “Clock strikes ten on a Saturday night,” begins the song as its yammering verses lead into a chorus about someone who is “Gonna get down.” The members of Cheap Trick are now ‘megastars in Japan.’ ‘In Color’ also includes such songs as ‘Oh Caroline’, ‘Downed’ and ‘Come On, Come On’. This album is the first on which Tom Petersson plays a twelve-string bass, an instrument which he helps develop. Normally, a standard bass guitar has only four strings. Over the years, Petersson amasses a large collection of guitars and basses. ‘In Color’ has a ‘smoother (more commercial) sound’ than its predecessor. It is not as ‘hard-rocking’ but offers ‘slicker production and quieter arrangements that spotlight the band’s melodic skills.’
Cheap Trick goes on tour in Japan for the first time in April 1978. Given the success of their records in Japan, it makes sense for the band to explore that market. “We had no idea what was waiting for us,” comments guitarist Rick Nielsen. As their plane touches down, the band is greeted by thousands of Japanese fans. Their concerts sold out within two hours and they pack in a crowd for two shows at Budokan arena, a large venue. A recording is made of a concert at Budokan with the idea of releasing a live album for the Japanese audience only. Somewhat stunned at their reception in this foreign land, Cheap Trick returns to their home soil. Drummer Bun E. Carlos says, “I went to my folks’ house and I said, ‘We’re like The Beatles over there,’ and they were like, (sarcastically) ‘Yeah, right.’”
‘Heaven Tonight’ (1978) (US no. 48, AUS no. 84), Cheap Trick’s third album, is released in May. Again, this album is produced by Tom Werman. Vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson are featured on the front cover. As the photo wraps around to the back cover, it reveals the quartet are in a public restroom where guitarist Rick Nielsen is brushing his teeth while drummer Bun E. Carlos adjusts his own tie. The gag of the cover photo dates back to the original plan for the album to be titled ‘American Standard’ – which is the name of a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures. This is why the setting for the photo is a bathroom. The band didn’t like the idea for the album title so that was discarded, but they liked the photo and decided to keep that. ‘Heaven Tonight’ is home to Cheap Trick’s finest single, ‘Surrender’ (US no. 62, AUS no. 32). Rick Nielsen’s echoing chords hail down across a lyric that seems to blur together sexual and military surrender: “Father says, ‘Your mother’s right, she’s really up on things / Before we married, mommy served in the W.A.C.s [Women’s Army Corps] in the Philippines’ / Now I had heard the W.A.C.s recruited old maids for the war / But mommy isn’t one of those, I’ve known her all these years.” Later, the narrator finds his parents rock ‘n’ rolling and they have “my Kiss records out” in a tip of the hat to U.S. rock band Kiss, one of the acts for which Cheap Trick opened concerts. Author Rick Nielsen says of ‘Surrender’, “It’s got kind of a universal sentiment to it. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think their parents were weird.” Although it doesn’t chart, the other single from ‘Heaven Tonight’ is a cover version of the 1972 song ‘California Man’ by British rock band The Move. It’s a slab of super-charged pop. ‘Heaven Tonight’ is said to ‘capture both the loud, raucous energy of their debut and the hook-laden song craft of ‘In Color’.’
The live album recorded during Cheap Trick’s tour of Japan earlier in the year is issued in October 1978 in that country. As expected the disc performs well in the land of the rising sun. More surprising is the demand for the album in the U.S. as an import. Bootleg copies begin selling at prices close to the original. Faced with this situation, Epic Records releases ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ (1979) (US no. 4, UK no. 29, AUS no. 15) in February. The material on this, Cheap Trick’s most essential album, was recorded on 28 April 1978 and 30 April 1978 at Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, in front of twelve thousand screaming fans. ‘The Japanese schoolgirls are practically the lead instrument here screaming their lungs out.’ The highlight of the album is a live version of ‘I Want You To Want Me’ (US no. 7, UK no. 29, AUS no. 43), a song previously released on ‘In Color’. Vocalist Robin Zander coos, “I want you to want me / I need you to need me / I’m begging you to beg me,” and the girls in the audience respond enthusiastically. After this album, ‘Zander briefly becomes one of rock’s leading teen idols.’ Speaking of ‘I Want You To Want Me’, guitarist and songwriter Rick Nielsen explains that, “The way we did it at Budokan was the way we played it in the clubs. In the studio, it got wimped out and toned down, very namby-pamby.” Also included is a version of the 1955 Fats Domino song ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ (US no. 35). “The ending is kind of anything goes,” notes Nielsen in reference to the multiple stop-and-start conclusions to their take on this rock standard. A favourite stage gimmick is for Nielsen to wear multiple guitars at once and put them aside, one by one, after playing a few notes on each. Like bassist Tom Petersson, Rick Nielsen is also an avid guitar collector though he is, if anything, even more obsessive than Petersson. Over the years, Nielsen estimates he own about two thousand guitars including some custom made models. In 2012 he says he has two hundred and fifty guitars. As well as the expected popular songs from Cheap Trick’s live shows, ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ includes two previously unreleased songs: ‘Need Your Love’ (co-written by Nielsen and Petersson) and ‘Lookout’. In the U.K. ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ is released on yellow vinyl. ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ stays on the U.S. album chart over a year, racking up sales in excess of three million copies.
Cheap Trick’s next album had been substantially completed before ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ was released, but the issue of this new studio recording is delayed while the live album is still doing brisk business. ‘Dream Police’ (1979) (US no. 6, UK no. 41, AUS no. 7) is eventually released on 21 September. The disc is produced by Tom Werman. ‘Dream Police’ finds itself carrying an unanticipated weight of expectation. On the other hand, it benefits from the live album’s boost to Cheap Trick’s profile. ‘Dream Police’ turns out to be the band’s most commercially successful album. The album’s best song is the title track, ‘Dream Police’ (US no. 26, AUS no. 5). It’s a paranoid ode to a faceless gang of psychic enforcers who “live inside my head” and “spy on me in my bed.” In addition to Rick Nielsen’s familiar guitar strokes, the song adds a stalking organ in the verses and swirling synthesisers in the chorus. Drummer Bun E. Carlos advises, “Rick wrote [the song] ‘Dream Police’ back in 1976 and we played it in the bars a few times with a different arrangement [then Rick rewrote it].” Follow-up single ‘Voices’ (US no. 32), though slower and more ballad-like, maintains the theme of ‘Dream Police’: “You didn’t know what you were looking for / ‘Til you heard the voices in your head.” ‘Way Of The World’, co-written by Rick Nielsen and vocalist Robin Zander, is released as a single only in the U.K. – though it goes unappreciated by the British charts. ‘I’ll Be With You Tonight’ is a barnstorming group composition containing elements of ‘Hot Tomato’, the song Cheap Trick recorded in demo form in 1974. ‘Dream Police’ is a disc of ‘carefully crafted, smoothly produced rock.’
In 1980 Cheap Trick’s bassist Tom Petersson marries a European model named Dagmar.
‘Found All The Parts’ (US no. 39) is a Cheap Trick EP released on 2 June 1980. The EP contains four tracks: a cover version of the 1965 Beatles song ‘Day Tripper’, a live recording of ‘Can’t Hold On’, ‘Such A Good Girl’ and ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ (co-written by Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen).
On 11 July 1980 Cheap Trick release the single ‘Everything Works If You Let It’ (US no. 44). It’s a rumbling piece that revs like a hot rod. The single is produced by George Martin, The Beatles’ long-time record producer. Martin produces the next Cheap Trick album, though this single is not on it. ‘Everything Works If You Let It’ comes from the soundtrack to the movie ‘Roadie’ (1980). Over the next few years, Cheap Trick contribute songs to the soundtracks of a number of movies, songs that do not appear on their own albums. However, ‘Everything Works If You Let It’ is the only one of their soundtrack songs to make the singles charts. For the record, the other soundtrack sourced Cheap Trick singles are: ‘Reach Out’ (co-written by Bob James and Pete Comita) from ‘Heavy Metal’ (1980); ‘Spring Break’ from ‘Spring Break’ (1983); ‘Up The Creek’ (co-written by Rick Nielsen and Randy Bishop); from ‘Up The Creek’ (1984); and ‘Mighty Wings’ (co-written by Harold Faltermeyer and Marc Spiro) from ‘Top Gun’ (1986).
On 12 August 1980 guitarist Rick Nielsen and drummer Bun E. Carlos play on a recording session for ‘Double Fantasy’ (1980), an album co-credited to ex-Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono. The involvement of the Cheap Trick boys comes about because Jack Douglas, who produced Cheap Trick’s debut album, is also producing this disc. As it turns out, Nielsen and Carlos’ contributions are not on the album when it is released but the pair still enjoyed getting to meet and work with Lennon.
Bassist Tom Petersson quits Cheap Trick on 25 August 1980, citing ‘personal and musical differences.’ He is ‘disillusioned with life within Cheap Trick, in part due to the unrelenting recording and touring schedule, and because of limited creative opportunities.’
After leaving Cheap Trick, Tom Petersson plays minor league baseball in Florida. In 1982 Petersson plays a show with Carmine Appice And Friends as part of the famed drummer’s band. Next, Petersson forms a new band of his own. A five-track ‘mini-album’ is released called ‘Tom Peterson And Another Language’ (1984) – the bassist returning to the original spelling of his surname. The line-up of this group is: Dagmar Peterson [Tom’s wife] (vocals), Jeffrey Rollings (guitar), Tom Peterson (bass, piano, vocals) and Thom Mooney, Lee Kix and Brian Irving [all sharing the role] (drums). Tom Peterson produces the disc and co-writes the songs with his wife. The mini-album is the only product released by Tom Peterson And Another Language.
‘All Shook Up’ (1980) (US no. 24, AUS no. 68), released on 24 October, is the next album by Cheap Trick. Like the earlier single ‘Everything Works If You Let It’, this album is produced by George Martin, best known for his work with The Beatles. Although bassist Tom Petersson has left Cheap Trick, the recording sessions were completed before his exit so Petersson plays bass throughout this album. ‘All Shook Up’ is considered ‘quirkier than its predecessor…less radio friendly and more experimental.’ The first single from this set is the big and glossy ‘Stop This Game’ (US no. 48), co-written by guitarist Rick Nielsen and vocalist Robin Zander. ‘World’s Greatest Lover’ is also put out as a single – but doesn’t chart.
Italian-born Pete Comita replaces Tom Petersson as Cheap Trick’s bassist. He debuts on a tour of Japan with Cheap Trick in the fall of 1980. Comita co-wrote (with Bob James) ‘Reach Out’, the Cheap Trick single issued in August 1981. This song came from the soundtrack of the movie ‘Heavy Metal’ (1981). Pete Comita is present as Cheap Trick begin the recording sessions for their next album, but leaves the band early in the process. Subsequently, though he is not credited, Pete Comita claims he co-wrote songs that appear on the next two Cheap Trick albums. In 1985 Pete Comita and fellow ex-bassist for Cheap Trick Tom Petersson resurrect Sick Man Of Europe (one of the bands that presaged Cheap Trick) for some live gigs. Janna Allen acts as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for this version of the group. Sick Man Of Europe continues to perform until 1987.
In 1981 Cheap Trick gains a new bassist: Jon Brant (born Jonathan Edward Brant on 20 February 1955 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.).
One of Rick Nielsen’s more famous custom-built guitars is the 1981 Hamer five-neck model. The basic purpose of this odd-looking instrument is to take the place of the multiple guitars Nielsen used in his stage trick of playing a few notes on each of the multiple guitars slung about his neck and then discarding each played guitar in turn. The new red-bodied guitar lets him play a few notes on each of its multiple necks in turn.
Cheap Trick’s ‘One On One’ (1982) (US no. 39, UK no. 95, AUS no. 25) is released on 30 April. This album is produced by Roy Thomas Baker. Bassist Pete Comita left Cheap Trick early in the recording sessions for this album, so it is actually guitarist Rick Nielsen who plays the bass parts on most of the tracks. New bassist Jon Brant plays on the other three songs – but that trio turn out to be all the singles released from this album. The ‘power ballad’ ‘If You Want My Love’ (US no. 45, UK no. 57, AUS no. 2) is reputedly ‘one of [Rick] Nielsen’s favourite songs he has recorded with the group.’ This sweeping effort is reminiscent of The Beatles’ 1968 song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. The pounding ‘innuendo-laced rocker’ ‘She’s Tight’ (US no. 65) offers the intentional spoonerism “Turned the door and I opened the key” from the over-excited Romeo narrating the song. “Nothing the band did was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek,” claims Rick Nielsen…possibly with his tongue in his cheek. The third single from this set, ‘Saturday At Midnight’, is co-written by Nielsen and vocalist Robin Zander – but it fails to make the charts. ‘One On One’ is given a limited promotional edition pressed on red vinyl. This album shows ‘their music is becoming increasingly polished.’
Another of Rick Nielsen’s best known custom-built guitars is the 1983 Hamer ‘Uncle Dick’ model. This guitar’s body is modelled on a caricature of Nielsen, his ‘legs’ forming the twin necks of the guitar. The ‘Uncle Dick’ model can be clearly seen on the cover of the band’s next album along with the members of Cheap Trick.
‘Next Position Please’ (1983) (US no. 64) is released on 15 August. The album’s title, ‘Next Position Please’, comes from a line in the song ‘High Priest Of Rhythmic Noise’, a track on the 1980 Cheap Trick album ‘All Shook Up’. ‘Next Position Please’ is produced by Todd Rundgren. Members of Rundgren’s former band, The Nazz, once worked with some members of Cheap Trick when the band was still known as Fuse. Rundgren gifts one of his songs, a previously unrecorded piece called ‘Heaven’s Falling’, to Cheap Trick for this album. One of the tracks on this disc is not produced by Rundgren. Epic Records has Cheap Trick record a cover version of the 1977 song ‘Dancing The Night Away’ by British rock band The Motors. The result is a mannered tune with a big beat. Epic felt the album lacked a hit single. They were right – but ‘Dancing The Night Away’ fares just as badly. Ian Taylor serves as producer on Cheap Trick’s version of ‘Dancing The Night Away’. The other (unsuccessful) single is ‘I Can’t Take It’, a track written by vocalist Robin Zander. It is somewhat unfairly overlooked since it’s quite a good example of power pop. ‘Next Position Please’ spends only eleven weeks on the U.S. album chart.
‘Standing On The Edge’ (1985) (US no. 35) is released in October. Cheap Trick’s first producer, Jack Douglas, is brought back for this disc. ‘Song doctor’ Mark Radice is brought in to help the band with the songwriting process and is co-credited on eight of the ten compositions. He also plays keyboards on this album. The first single is the soaring ‘Tonight It’s You’ (US no. 44), co-written by Mark Radice, guitarist Rick Nielsen, vocalist Robin Zander and bassist Jon Brant. Although ‘Little Sister’ might be described as rockabilly, it’s not a cover version of the 1961 Elvis Presley song; it’s written by Robin Zander. It’s appreciation of younger girls verges on being a bit creepy. Neither ‘Little Sister’ nor ‘How About You’ (written by Zander, Nielsen and Radice) make the singles charts. When Cheap Trick goes on tour to support ‘Standing On The Edge’, Steve Walsh (from U.S. rock band Kansas) is brought along to play the keyboard parts.
‘The Doctor’ (1986) (US no. 115) is released in November. This disc is produced by Tony Platt. Though it doesn’t chart, the chosen single from this set is ‘It’s Only Love’. Co-written by vocalist Robin Zander and guitarist Rick Nielsen, it has bludgeoning beats, sharp-edged notes and a shattering sound. Synthesisers dominate the sonic textures on this album, just as they did on ‘Mighty Wings’, the Cheap Trick single from the soundtrack to the movie ‘Top Gun’, which was released earlier in 1986. ‘The Doctor’ is ‘widely considered the band’s worst album’ and evidence that ‘the group is slowly losing their creative spark.’ It brings an end to ‘a string of unfocused albums during the 1980s.’
In the fall of 1987 Tom Petersson returns to Cheap Trick as their bassist. The band ‘parts on good terms’ with Jon Brant who held the role of bassist in the group from 1981 to 1987.
‘Lap Of Luxury’ (1988) (US no. 16, AUS no. 14) is released on 12 April. This album is produced by Richie Zito. Bassist Tom Petersson is back with Cheap Trick for the first time since ‘All Shook Up’ (1980). Epic Records arranges for several professional songwriters to contribute to the album. Although it results in Cheap Trick slipping towards corporate rock, it pays off in commercial terms. ‘Lap Of Luxury’ is the group’s second biggest commercial triumph (after ‘Dream Police’). The aching ballad ‘The Flame’ (US no. 1, UK no. 77, AUS no. 1), a song highlighted by acoustic guitar, achieves more sales and airplay than any Cheap Trick song in years. The song is written by Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham. It is followed by a cover version of the 1956 Elvis Presley hit ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ (US no. 4, UK no. 77, AUS no. 4). Cheap Trick don’t exactly reinvent the song, but their fairly faithful rendition is still quite satisfying. ‘Ghost Town’ (US no. 33) is co-written by Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and professional songwriter Diane Warren. “It’s like a ghost town without your love,” howls Robin Zander on this forlorn ballad based on piano and synthesisers – though it has a welcome rough guitar solo by Nielsen. “Some things you can never let go,” counsels the chorus of ‘Let Go’ (AUS no. 75), co-written by Nielsen and Todd Cerney. The song has a nagging guitar and an anthemic chorus. ‘Never Had A Lot To Lose’ (US no. 75) is co-written by Robin Zander and Tom Petersson. It’s rampaging pop with a hard edge and has Zander crying, “My life’s a circus.” For all the success of ‘Lap Of Luxury’, the band later forms the view it ‘restricted their range and boxed them into a sound that would eventually stall their recording career for most of the 1990s.’
‘Surrender To Me’ (US no. 6) is a duet recorded by Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Ann Wilson of Heart. Like Cheap Trick, Heart records for the Epic label and underwent a similar move to corporate rock in the 1980s. The song comes from the soundtrack to ‘Tequila Sunrise’ (1988), a movie released on 2 December.
‘Busted’ (1990) (US no. 48, AUS no. 36), released in June, has a similar format to ‘Lap Of Luxury’. Once again, Cheap Trick is augmented by a number of professional songwriters. Richie Zito, producer of ‘Lap Of Luxury’, also produces this album. The first single is ‘Can’t Stop Fallin’ Into Love’ (US no. 12, AUS no. 26), a creditable semi-ballad co-written by Cheap Trick band members Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson. ‘Wherever Would I Be’ (US no. 50) is a lingering acoustic ballad written by Diane Warren. Two more tracks from ‘Busted’ are issued as singles, but neither of them charts: ‘Black And Blue’ (co-written by Taylor Rhodes, Robert A. Johnson, Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander) and ‘If You Need Me’ (co-written by Neilsen, Zander and Mick Jones). Mick Jones, from corporate rockers Foreigner, also plays guitar on ‘If You Need Me’. Two other notable guest stars provide additional vocals on this album: Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders is on ‘Walk Away’ (written by Petersson, Zander and Nielsen) and Russell Mael of Sparks appears on ‘You Drive, I’ll Steer’ (written by Nielsen and Zander). ‘Busted’ is less successful than ‘Lap Of Luxury’ and ‘effectively puts an end to the group’s commercial comeback.’
‘The Greatest Hits’ (1991) (US no. 174) collects together Epic Records’ idea of Cheap Trick’s best known songs. It includes a previously unreleased track, a fairly faithful cover version of The Beatles’ 1967 song ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ that Cheap Trick recorded during the sessions for ‘Lap Of Luxury’.
Cheap Trick’s vocalist releases a solo album, ‘Robin Zander’ (1993).
On 20 June 1993 Robin Zander marries his second wife, Pamela Stein. She is a former ‘Playboy’ magazine playmate. Robin and Pam go on to have two children: a son, Robin Taylor (born 1993), and a daughter, Robin-Sailor (born 2000). Commenting on the similarity between his own name and those of both of his children, Robin Zander says, “My wife just calls ‘Robin’ and we all come running.”
‘Budokan II’ (1994), released in February, is another disc culled from the concert recordings that produced ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan’ (1979). ‘Budokan II’ is Cheap Trick’s last album for the Epic Records label.
‘Woke Up With A Monster’ (1994) (US no. 123), released on 22 March, is issued by Warner Bros. The album is produced by Ted Templeman. Five songs are pulled from this set and released as singles – but none of them chart. Those songs are: ‘Woke Up With A Monster’ (co-written by vocalist Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson), ‘Didn’t Know I Had It’ (co-written by Nielsen and Todd Cerney), ‘You’re All I Wanna Do’ (co-written by Nielsen, Petersson, Zander, Jim Peterik, Julian Raymond and (from Procol Harum) Terry Reid), ‘Never Run Out Of Love’ (co-written by Nielsen and Peterik) and ‘Girlfriends’ (co-written by the four members of Cheap Trick). ‘Woke Up With A Monster’ is Cheap Trick’s only album for Warners as they part ways with that label.
‘Sex, America, Cheap Trick’ (1996) is a four disc box set released by Epic.
‘Cheap Trick’ (1997) (US no. 99) is issued on 29 April by the tiny Red Ant Alliance label…which files for bankruptcy shortly after the release of the album. ‘Cheap Trick’ is co-produced by the band and Ian Turner. The album spawns the last Cheap Trick single to make the charts, the appropriately titled ‘Say Goodbye’ (US no. 119). It is a semi-acoustic, gently rocking break-up song composed by the triumvirate of Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Robin Zander. At this time guitarist Rick Nielsen begins sporting a goatee beard.
Epic releases ‘Cheap Trick At Budokan: The Complete Concert’ (1998), a two disc set assembling all the material from the live albums from 1979 and 1994.
‘Music For Hangovers’ (1999) is also a live album, but this one is the first release on the band’s own Cheap Trick Unlimited label. It is put together from a four-night series of concerts in Chicago in which Cheap Trick played their first four albums live, one per night.
The marriage of Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson and his wife Dagmar comes to an end in the late 1990s.
‘Authorized Greatest Hits’ (2000) is released by Epic Records. While the 1991 compilation was made up of tracks selected by the record company, the songs on this set are chosen by the members of Cheap Trick.
‘Silver’ (2001), released on 27 February, is a two disc live album drawn from shows at David Park in Cheap Trick’s hometown of Rockford, Illinois.
Around 2003 Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson marries his second wife, Alison. Tom and Allison have two children: a daughter named Lilah (born 2004) and a son named Liam (born 2007). Liam is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (a group of development disabilities that can cause communication and behaviour difficulties). Accordingly, the Petersson family works with the Rock Your Speech charity project in 2016.
‘Special One’ (2003) (US no. 128) is the first new studio-recorded Cheap Trick album since 1997. It is co-produced by the band and Chris Shaw. The group’s past is revisited for the two disc compilation from Epic ‘The Essential Cheap Trick’ (2004). ‘Rockford’ (2006) (US no. 101), named after Cheap Trick’s hometown, is a new album that is hailed as ‘a return to form.’ It is a patchwork of sessions with a number of different record producers: Jim ‘Pinky’ Beeman, Julian Raymond, Jack Douglas, Steve Albini and Chris Shaw. The group themselves also claim a co-producer credit. ‘The Latest’ (2009) (US no. 78), released on 23 January, appears to be the last disc issued on their own Cheap Trick Unlimited label. It is co-produced by Cheap Trick, Julian Raymond and Howard Willing.
‘Tinted Windows’ (2009), released on 21 April, is a one-off album recorded by the band of the same name. It is a side-project for the group’s four members who take time out from their regular groups for this enterprise. The members of Tinted Windows are: Taylor Hanson (vocals) (from Hanson), James Iha (guitar) (from The Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (bass) (from Fountains Of Wayne) and Bun E. Carlos (drums) (from Cheap Trick).
‘Sgt Pepper Live’ (2009) (US no. 83) comes out on the Big Three label on 25 August. The members of Cheap Trick have always been fans of The Beatles. Here they recreate perhaps The Beatles’ most famous album in a live concert – which is something The Beatles never did because they retired from touring before the release of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967). Cheap Trick’s version was performed in August 2007 to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ 1967 album. Cheap Trick is backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Edwin Outwater. Also present are guest vocalists Joan Osborne and Aimee Mann.
‘Candy Golde’ is a five song EP released in 2011 by the band of the same name. This is another side-project for Cheap Trick’s drummer, Bun E. Carlos. Those working with Carlos in Candy Golde are: Nicholas Tremulis (vocals), Rick Rizzo (guitar) and John Stirratt (bass). They are joined by Mark Greenburg for live performances.
‘Countryside Blvd’ (2011) is a solo album by Cheap Trick’s vocalist Robin Zander. It is only released online; not in physical form. However it is withdrawn from sale only hours after it is issued in April.
In January 2013 Cheap Trick’s vocalist gigs with The Robin Zander Band while Cheap Trick is off the road. The musicians backing up the singer are: Mark Hitt (guitar), Larry Hobbs (bass) and Steve Luongo (drums).
In 2013 drummer Bun E. Carlos files a lawsuit against Cheap Trick. ‘Even though they claim he is still a band member, he is not being allowed to participate in band-related activities, including recording a new album.’ In retaliation, Cheap Trick lodge a countersuit – but the group’s claim is thrown out of court in 2013. By 2015 it seems that Carlos and the band have settled their feud. “We’ve had our differences [with Bun E. Carlos],” admits vocalist Robin Zander, “but we’re all settled up now, and hopefully we can forget about that era.” For his part, the drummer states, “I’m a full member of Cheap Trick in all respects. Solely as an accommodation to some of the band members, I reluctantly agreed to take a temporary hiatus from touring.”
In 2016 Cheap Trick is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
‘Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello’ (2016) (US no. 31) is the title of the Cheap Trick album released by Big Machine Records on 1 April. The disc is co-produced by Cheap Trick and Julian Raymond. Drums on this album are played by Daxx Nielsen, the son of Cheap Trick’s guitarist Rick Nielsen. Daxx Nielsen has been playing drums on tour with Cheap Trick during the band’s dispute with Bun E. Carlos. Though the high chart position for this disc suggests it is (comparatively) successful, that is a bit illusory. In its second week on the U.S. album chart it falls to no. 134 and, after five weeks, it leaves the top two hundred chart completely.
‘Greetings From Bunezuela’ (2016) is a solo album released on 24 June by Cheap Trick’s errant drummer Bun E. Carlos. He also plays gigs with two side bands: The Bun E. Carlos Experience and The Monday Night Band. Both groups include former Cheap Trick bassist Jon Brant.
Cheap Trick was disproportionately popular in Japan in the late 1970s. In a way, that was emblematic of the group’s career. Although Cheap Trick was quite successful, they always seemed like they should have enjoyed greater mainstream pop success than was their fate. With an endearing blend of colourful personalities, smart songs and well-oiled musicianship, Cheap Trick seemed primed for greatness. “We recorded and released two hundred and fifty songs,” guitarist Rick Nielsen said in 2013, “and I think most people know about ten.” Robin Zander, the band’s vocalist, said, “I think we’ve got three [songs] that we would have to play, and that would be ‘Surrender’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘I Want You To Want Me’.” Although Cheap Trick recorded some good material through most of their career, they were at their best from 1977 to 1979. Cheap Trick combined ‘a love for British guitar pop song craft with crunching power chords and a flair for the absurd.’ They were ‘one of America’s most interesting bands…and one of the most difficult to describe; new wave only in name, too melodic for heavy metal and too raw for pop.’
- metrolyrics.com as at 6 August 2016
- wikipedia.org as at 3 August 2016
- gotrickford.com – no author credited – as at 5 August 2016
- ricknielsen.com – by Ira Robbins – copyright 2014
- rockcellarmagazine.com – ‘Robin Zander of Cheap Trick – The Interview’ by Ken Sharp (9 April 2016)
- entertainment.time.com – ‘Catching Up with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen 33 Years After Budokan’ – interview conducted by Melissa Locker (3 May 2013)
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 41
- allmusic.com, ‘Cheap Trick’ by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Greg Prato as at 10 December 2001
- legendaryrockinterviews.com – ‘Scarlett Nielsen, Model and Daughter of Rick (Cheap Trick) talks about her Family, her Career and more’ – interview conducted by John Parks (1 October 2011)
- rrstar.com – ‘Cheap Trick: Several Bandmates’ Kids Pursuing the Family Business’ by Brian Leaf (10 April 2016)
- ‘Chicago Tribune’ (Chicago, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘On the Drums – Mr Bun E. Carlos’ – interview conducted by Chrissie Dickinson (7 July 2016) (reproduced on chicagotribune.com)
- classicrockrevisited.com – ‘Bun E. Carlos – Everything Works if You Let It…Well, Sort of’ – interview conducted by Jeb Wright (4 August 2015)
- Notable Names Database – nndb.com – as at 5 August 2016
- Internet Movie Database – imdb.com – as at 6 August 2016
- kaos2000.net – KAOS 2000 Magazine – ‘Interviews- Rick Nielsen’ by Philip Anderson (July 2000)
- rollingstone.com – ‘Cheap Trick Biography’ – no author credited – as at 6 August 2016
- songfacts.com – ‘Cheap Trick artistfacts’ – no author credited – as at 6 August 2016
- brainyquote.com as at 6 August 2016
- mtv.com – ‘About Robin Zander’ by Greg Prato as at 5 August 2016
- ‘Chicago Tribune’ (Chicago, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘Cheap Trick: The Rockford Files’ – by Greg Kot (27 April 1997) (reproduced on chicagotribune.com)
- ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 123, 191
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 70
- musicradar.com – ‘Interview – Rick Nielsen talks Cheap Trick at Budokan Track-by-Track’ by Joe Basso (12 April 2012)
- mr.zeros.com – ‘Cheap Trick Cartoon Rock’ by ‘mr.zeros’ (19 December 2013)
- ‘The Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ (Papermac, 1984) p. 315
- guitaraficionado.com – ‘Rick’s Picks: 1981 Hamer Five-Neck’ by Rick Nielsen (7 October 2012), ‘Rick’s Picks: 1983 Hamer Uncle Dick’ by Rick Nielsen (1 August 2011)
- ‘Tampa Bay Times’ (Florida, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander Celebrates Safety Harbor, Hall of Fame Induction’ – interview by Jay Cridlin (6 April 2016) (reproduced on tampabay.com)
- ‘The Tennessean’ (Tennessee, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘Tom Petersson Makes “Rock ‘n’ Roll with a Purpose”’ by Juli Thanki (26 April 2016) (reproduced on tennessean.com)
- ‘Cheap Trick: The Greatest Hits’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Epic Records/Sony Music, 1991) p. 2
Song lyrics copyright Screen / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC with the exceptions of: ‘Elo Kiddies’ (Adult Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC); ‘Ghost Town’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.); ‘Let Go’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.); and ‘Never Had A Lot To Lose’ (Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management US, LLC).
Last revised 20 August 2016