Cheap Trick’s ‘Dream’ 2016 Rock Hall Induction

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Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick performs onstage at the 31st Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 8, 2016 (Photo: Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; used with permission)

Mentioning how the late Beatles producer George Martin “said Cheap Trick was his favorite band to work with that wasn’t from Liverpool,” Kid Rock ushered the Illinois-based classic rock band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8, 2016, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Guitarist Rick Nielsen, singer Robin Zander and bassist Tom Petersson were joined by formerly estranged drummer Bun E. Carlos at the podium and in performance as the band accepted the honor.

As Kid Rock said of the group’s emergence on their self-titled debut Epic Records album in 1977, “When disco and soft rock had taken over our radio – thank God I wasn’t alive then – they were exactly what we needed, a garage band in sheep’s clothing. They had a punk soul, a pop heartbeat and Beatles ambitions.” He noted how they emerged from the Midwest rock circuit and continue to be a hard-working and even harder-playing group. “They’re a club band, a bar band, a working band, every sense of those words. They’re relentless, precise, powerful. If she’s tight, they’re tighter….

“Cheap Trick was so big, so loud, so fast that it took a live album to catch the fury,” he noted. alluding to the foursome’s breakthrough with Cheap Trick at Budokan in 1979. “‘Surrender,’ ‘I Want You to Want Me.’ These are great songs, but live, they became anthems. It took us a while to figure it out. They were made in the USA, but Japan caught on before we did. A lot of bands think, ‘We’re big in Japan.’ I’m fucking big in Kentucky. But Cheap Trick is the only one they call the American Beatles. After that, the world exploded for them. It look like success came out of nowhere, but trust me, they worked for it. Of course they did. They’ve got Midwestern heart.”

In acceptance, Zander noted how “our fans really deserve this honor more than anyone for sticking up for us as long as they have. I know that’s been rough over the years.” He also thanked the band “for giving me the life I’ve always dreamed of.”

Carlos recalled how the “first time I heard Rick’s name was in fourth grade,” then traced the various cover groups its members played in until “four guys from Cheap Trick were together – 42 years later, we made it here. It’s pretty cool.” The drummer had sued his former bandmates in 2013 after retiring from the road (and was replaced by Neilsen’s son Daxx). The suit was settled in 2015, and all seemed warm among the group’s original members.

Petersson recounted Cheap Trick’s early pre-fame years. “We knew that rock ‘n’ roll is what we wanted to do, and it inspired us to play our own original music. When we united with Rob and Bun E., we knew we really had something. We rehearsed in Rick’s parents garage and drove endlessly throughout the Midwest in a crummy Pontiac Bonneville with no heat and no air conditioning.”

Related: The inside story of Cheap Trick’s rise

Nielsen explained how, “My parents were opera singers. I didn’t want to play opera because I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t want to play their music; I wanted to play the music that I wanted to play, and I’m so lucky that today I get to play that music, even though I don’t like every song I write.”

Then Cheap Trick took the stage as the rockers they are. Zander yelled, “I want you! To want me!” and they launched into the song of that name, a #7 pop hit and their biggest-selling single. “Dream Police” and “Surrender” followed.

Finally the foursome was joined by the members of Chicago and Deep Purple and Steve Miller as well as Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Rob Thomas, Paul Shaffer and others to bring the whole event to a rousing close with “Ain’t That A Shame.”

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Cheap Trick have many tour dates scheduled. Click here and here for tickets.

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