Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Cheap Trick hasn’t stop rocking on the road in its 40-plus years together. The band tours a lot, including a stop in our region again on April 29 at the Nugget Casino Resort.
Cheap Trick has featured most of its original members for the band’s lifetime: Rick Neilsen on guitar, Robin Zander on vocals and rhythm guitar and Tom Petersson on bass. Petersson left for a chunk of the ’80s but returned for good in 1987, while original drummer Bun E. Carlos was replaced a few years ago by Rick Nielsen’s son, Daxx.
Cheap Trick had roots in a band called Fuse in the early ’70s, but changed its name to Cheap Trick by the time 1975 rolled around. Its first three albums once they were signed to Epic Records were modest sellers, but the band earned a following with extensive touring, including opening stints for bigger arena rock bands. Among the group’s best known early songs are “Elo Kiddies,” “I Want You To Want Me,” “Big Eyes,” “Clock Strikes Ten” and its first solid radio hit, “Surrender.”
The band’s breakthrough album was a live album, “Cheap Trick at Budokan,” recorded in Japan where the band were a top 10 act at the time, touring to a mostly female fan base that screamed as if they were the early ’60s Beatles throughout the album.
At first released only in Japan, “Budokan” began selling well as an import and was released in the U.S. in 1979, where it reached the top 5 and sold three million albums. The live version of “I Want You to Want Me” also became a top 10 hit and is still a classic rock radio staple. An expanded version of “Budokan” released five years ago has both shows recorded for the album in full.
Cheap Trick’s follow-up album, 1979’s “Dream Police” also went top 10 and had two top 40 hits, the title track and “Voices.” Throughout the ’80s, the band had a few other hits including “If You Want My Love, “Tonight It’s You” and its sole No. 1, a power ballad called “The Flame.”
Continuing to tour through the next decades, Cheap Trick has long since left the major label grind and released several albums on its own label in the 21st century. The band was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, where it played with Carlos in the lineup for the first time in years.
The year 2016 was also the time when Cheap Trick last released an album, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy ... Hello.” With a bigger rock sound closer to the band’s “Budokan” years, the album received good reviews and was released on Big Machine Records, which is mostly known for pop-country acts such as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw.