THE JAMS MOTHERFUCKER!!:
ONE CHEAP TRICK FAN'S JOURNEY from'78 TO '98"
retrospect it seems I was a bigger Cheap Trick
fan than I thought. I guess it all started back in 1978 shortly after the release
of "Live At Budokan". I would flip through magazines like "Circus",
"Creem", "Trouser Press", and whatever other fanzines were on
the stands at that time and find pictures of this curious looking band that had two
glamour boys and two geeks, one of those geeks looking like the "Satch"
character from those "Bowery Boys" flicks I would see on Sunday afternoon
television. Even more peculiar was that they were presented as this kind of Punk
or New Wave band like Blondie and Devo which I didn't quite understand.
they were, the whole thing had me scratchin' my 12 year old head in curiousity. "Hmm.
These guys are a band? Funny. They don't look like Aerosmith or the Ramones."
Soon after my discovery of this strange new band while on a visit to the local mall,
I begged and pestered my mother to please buy me a copy of "Cheap Trick at Budokan".
"Ain't That A Shame" and "I Want You to Want Me" were all over
the radio, and I had to have a copy of the album. It was a relentless afternoon of
few years prior, when I wouldn't do some chores around the house one day, my mom
took my copy of "Kiss Alive II" tore up the sleeve, and smashed both platters
of the 2 record set to pieces right in front of me. I wouldn't be gettin "my
Kiss records out" for a while. So maybe the "Budokan" album was her
way of making up for the past.
One day I'm walking down
St. Mark's Place and I hear "ELO
Kiddies" from the first album blastin out of a nearby window. It was almost
like a revelation. The jeannie had re- emerged from the bottle and my jazz for Cheap
Trick was resurrected.
"Budokan" in my possession, (I still have the same copy), it wasn't long
before that thing ruled my turntable. All those bitchin' tunes: "Big Eyes",
"Come On", "Lookout", "Hello There" etc. And that cool
insert picture booklet. Soon it was torn apart to become part of the "wallpaper"
in my room, joining various pics of Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Ted
Nugent, Kiss, and just about any other band from that time whose pictures
were ripped from magazines and promptly taped to my wall. By that point, needless
to say, I was a bonefied Cheap Trick fan.
before I knew it they had a new album out. "Dream Police" rolled into the
stores about a year or so later, but this time I didn't have to beg my mom for it.
Besides, I was turning 13, getting too old for that. Instead, I grabbed the opportunity
to enter a contest at one of the local record stores to win a copy of the new album.....signed
by the band.
strolled into the store, one afternoon, swiped a huge stack of entry forms, filled
them out at home, and deposited them in the entry box the following day. I knew I
had it pretty much had it in the bag. The coveted, autographed copy of "Dream
Police" would be mine. And, wouldn'tcha know it, it was taken off the wall and
handed to me during that afternoon of the drawing (Still got that copy also.)
of the sudden Cheap Trick was coming to my town for a stop on the "Dream Police"
tour. Even though "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" hadn't even come out yet,
I could hear that same ticket scalping speech the character Damone gives to one of
his prospective buyers: "The charisma of Rick Neilsen. The magnetism
of Robin Zander. Here, look at the tickets". Well, April 8, 1980 was
my first Cheap Trick show. The second rock show I ever attended. Molly Hatchet
and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was the first in '79 and WOW...whatta buncha
burned out rednecks that scene was. I didn't think people that smoked pot actually
liked the song "Mr. Bojangles", but man, was I proven wrong that night,
but that's a whole other story.
Cheap Trick were amazing that night. The chicks DUG Robin and Tom.
Rick tossed guitar picks with his face printed on them at the audience, and Bun
E. beat the traps in his own unrelentless rock and roll way. During the whole
show they had a huge curtain with a police badge that read "Cheap Trick USA"
behind them as they kicked, or should I say 'Tricked' out the jams. That was the
first of four times I would see the now so-called "Tricksters" in the early
1980s. Again, we revisited each other in '82, '83, '84.
was not the same, however, because after 1981 Tom Petersson was gone, (to form his
own band "USSA"), only to be replaced by sequential darked haired clones.
This somehow took away from the original flair of the band. A guy named Pete Comida
was the first replacement, and after him some other clone, whose name I can't remember.
Eventually it all came to a full circle when Tom Petersson returned in the
late 1980s. But my interest in Cheap Trick pretty much took a nose dive after 1984.
They were starting to do those hollow 80s power ballads and seemed to lose alot of
their edge. Plus, I was outta high school and my tastes were going in other directions.
April 8, 1980 was my first Cheap Trick show....The chicks DUG
Robin and Tom. Rick tossed guitar picks with his face printed on them at the audience,
and Bun E. beat the traps in his own unrelentless rock and roll way.... ...Cheap Trick were scheduled to
roll into town for a three night gig at Irving Plaza...the chicks DUG Robin and Tom. Rick tossed guitar picks with his
face printed on them at the audience, and Bun E. beat the traps in his own unrelentless
rock and roll way.
got a job at a record store and discovered a whole other galaxy of stuff. Punk was
still underground, but was making a pretty big impression with the suburban kids.
Dead Kennedys, G.B.H., Smiths, Black Flag and old stuff
like MC5, Iggy and T. Rex, just to mention a few, were taking
over my world. The trick was up and "Budokan" and "Dream Police"
were put in the back of the stack and shut down indefinitely. Except for my ocassional
spin of their very excellent first album, Cheap Trick was a thing of the past for
day I'm walking down St. Mark's Place and I hear "ELO Kiddies" from the
first album blastin out of a nearby window. It was almost like a revelation. To hear
Robin Zander growl this paranoid gloom and doom anthem out into ground zero
of the NYC youth culture was more than apropos. "ELO Kiddies, ELO Kiddies. Whatcha
gonna do when you're stomach's burnin'. ELO Kiddies, ELO Kiddies. Whatcha gonna do
when you get religion?" A great social comment, but also like kinda unearthing
a precious fossil or jem. The jeannie had re- emerged from the bottle and my jazz
for Cheap Trick was resurrected.
one of those cinamatic 'it just so happens' moments, at the time of my revealtion,
Cheap Trick were scheduled to roll into town for a three night gig at Irving
Plaza. Needless to say, I wanted to be there to photograph the event, as I'm firstly
a photographer and more recently a journalist. I made the right calls and eventually
got access to the gig, scheduled for Halloween Night when they would perform all
of "Heaven Tonight". Well, to make a long story short the person who was
supposed to call the person who was supposed to call the other person didn't and
much to my dismay I got a ticket to get in but NO FUCKING PHOTO PASS![...sorry 'bout that, Scott. -ed]
could continue this story and tell you how security snuffed me out after they spotted
me with my camera after I forced myself up front but I won't. I could also tell you
about what happened after that, but I won't. Instead I'll just tell you that I watched
the show and you'll have to "imagine" what it all looked like. I know you
was the case in 1980, the chicks DUG Robin and Tom. Rick tossed guitar picks with
his face printed on them at the audience, and Bun E. beat the traps in his own unrelentless
rock and roll way. Just like old times. I was hoping that Robin would say "This
next one is the first song off our new album" before they broke into "Surrender"
but he didn't. He did however throw a Cheap Trick record into the crowd during the
"got my Kiss records" line though.
"Dream Police" back drop this time around. Instead the actual Dream Police
themselves came out and arrested a Gene Simmons imposter as he started to
introduce the band. Oh yeah, one other observation of note. All the guys in the band
AND everybody in the crowd was about 20 years older. But like the recently re-united
Kiss (with make-up) all Cheap Trick has to do is preserve the look that first struck
an interest way back when, and they will look as if they have never aged at all.
As long as Rick dons the baseball cap and plays those crazy-ass six neck guitars,
as long as Bun E. sports the specs and mustache, and as long as Robin and Tom keep
dying their hair it will always be 1978.
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