“Running our own label has been a lot of fun. One day Bun E. gets to be President and one day I get to play President. It's been a little tedious and a little overwhelming at times but we've got more control over our chaos” – Robin Zander, Lead Vocals and Guitars - Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick - The American Beatles?
Cheap Trick influence on American Rock bands in undeniable. They have been around for over 40 years performing their infectious pop infused rock music to enthusiastic audiences world wide. Away from the US, their biggest and most loyal fans are in Japan; where they are one of most popular bands of all times. They have been primarily a touring band playing all their favorite to almost 250 shows around the world.
An American Melody
Cheap Trick have always been labeled the American Rock version of the Beatles; they in fact played Sgt. Pepper in it’s entirety on several occasions. Their own biggest hits have given them platinum and gold singles in the US. The band has maintained their cult status from the late 70s. Many major rock acts of 90s have often cited Cheap Trick as one of their biggest influences. Music channel VH1 ranked them at No.25 on the list of Greatest Rock bands of all times.
In 1967 Rick Nielson (lead guitar, backing vocals) formed the first version of Cheap Trick called Fuse along with Tom Petersson (bass). They added session musician Bun E. Carlos on drums. The band then recruited their lead singer Robin Zander. Robin brought in his own influences of Beatles type melodies and it started changing the sound of the band. In 1975 they recorded their first demo and played at various clubs, bars and even bowling alleys.
Cheap Trick signed with Epic Records and in 1977 they released their self-titled debut album Cheap Trick was praised unanimously. The lyrics on the album were quite morbid dealing with serious issues like pedophilia and suicide.
It was the next three albums where Cheap Trick broke into the mainstream with a trilogy of platinum selling albums. The first of them was “In Colors” released in the same year as their first album, the record was a much lighter affair and thus began a long standing collaboration with producer Tom Werman. The bands signature melodic rock sound started taking shape and the “I want you to want me” which at the time of release was a major hit in Japan. But in 1979 with the release of Live in Budokan, the single would reach No.7 on the US 100. A simple and yet catchy rock tune was perfect for a live audience.
The Platinum Trilogy
Their next album “Heaven Knows” in 1978, was the second platinum effort. It featured their signature tune “Surrender”. The song has been widely covered by artists as diverse as Marilyn Manson, Hootie and the Blowfish and punk rockers Green Day. The melodic rock song is sung with a punk sensibility, making it a sure crowd favorite.
The third platinum album in a row was released in 1979, “Dream Police”. The album was their highest chart entry in the US at No.7 The song was similar to their previous hit single in terms of the guitar chords and of course Cheap Trick delivers it in energetic pure punk power!
To complete their golden period, the band released “Live in Budokan”; considered as one best live albums in the hard rock genre, it captured the band at their most raw and powerful. The album would go on to sell 3 million copies. The band was already mega stars in Japan with screaming fans on their shows reminiscent of the Beatle Mania!
The Rising Sun Megastars
Their next album “All Shook Up” was produced by legendary Beatles producer George Martin. The bizarre cover garnered surprise as the album did not sell well despite heavy promotion.
The band’s 80s album were commercial failures and the popularity in the mainstream started to wane. The album “Lap of Luxury” was their last platinum selling effort. It contained the track “Flame” which the bands only No.1 single. By the late 80s and 90s the band were dropped from their record label due to poor album sales, they decided tow work with indie labels only.
The Traveling Stars
In 1998 they formed their own record label to distribute their music. They have recorded and released the legendary Beatles album Sgt. Pepper in its entirety in 2009.
The band remains one of the most loved acts in American rock music and has been performing concerts in various places all over the world.
Did you know that...
- ...Cheap Trick wrote and sang "Baby Muggles," which is the theme song for The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.
- ...in 1998, Cheap Trick established their own record label: Cheap Trick Unlimited
- ...in August of 2007, Cheap Trick honored the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by playing the album in its entirety with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra