(L-R) Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petterson of the band Cheap Trick perform on stage during the 35th Anniversary of Cheap Trick at Budokan at the John Varvatos Bowery NYC store on April 28, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for John Varvatos)

Cheap Trick was one of the more interesting looking bands on MTV in the 1980s. Two of the guys, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson, have always looked like rock stars. The drummer, Bun E. Carlos, looked more like he could have been their chain-smoking manager. And guitarist Rick Nielsen…well, he just has a look all his own with his bowties and ballcaps. But, man, can they play.

Hailing from Rockford, Illinois, Cheap Trick was formed in 1973 by guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, lead vocalist Randy Hogan, and drummer Bun E. Carlos. Robin Zander replaced Hogan as frontman a year later. Carlos left the group in 2010, but the current lineup still includes Zander, Nielsen, and Petersson.

Cheap Trick Goes To Japan

Cheap Trick released their self-titled debut album in 1977. However, despite their Midwestern roots, the foursome first found major success all the way over in Japan with the release of their second album, In Color, later that year. They would finally achieve mainstream popularity in the U.S. with their breakthrough 1978 live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan. One of the videos in this edition of the Throwback Threesome was filmed at the iconic Japanese concert venue.

The band reached the top 10 on the US Billboard 200 album chart with Cheap Trick at Budokan and again in 1979 with Dream Police. Over the years, they built a dedicated cult following and experienced several resurgences of popularity, such as the one in 1988 following the release of their Lap of Luxury album. The beloved group has sold more than 20 million albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

  • I Want You To Want Me (1977)

    Cheap Trick was big in Japan before they really broke through in America. One of the songs that paved the way for the band’s future success was “I Want You To Want Me.” Originally released as a single from 1977’s In Color studio album, the live version on Cheap Trick at Budokan reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. This video was filmed during the band’s concerts at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo in April 1978.

  • Dream Police (1979)

    “Dream Police” is the title track from Cheap Trick’s fourth studio album. The quirky video features the band members as both police officers and suspects in a lineup. According to Songfacts, the song was almost two years old when MTV launched in 1981. The fledgling cable channel played the video anyway, giving it a second life.

  • Don't Be Cruel (1988)

    Cheap Trick’s excellent cover of this Elvis Presley classic was the second single released from the band’s Lap of Luxury album, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in October 1988. Watch for drummer Bun E. Carlos in the King’s white jumpsuit at the end of the video.

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