Behind the Band Name: Cheap Trick

Melding Beatles-esque pop and heavy power chords, Cheap Trick bridged the gap between ’60s pop and the burgeoning punk movement in the ’70s. Their sound remained deeply influential for groups decades after they first launched onto the world’s stage.

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Their tongue-in-cheek, eclectic style is anything but two-bit, so how did they land the name Cheap Trick? Find out below.

Behind the Band Name

The band found its name on August 15, 1973, after attending a Slade concert. Bassist Tom Petersson commented that the group used “every cheap trick in the book” as part of their set.

Prior to becoming Cheap Trick, Petersson and Rick Nielsen were a part of a late-’60s group called Fuse. After they failed to gain any traction under that moniker, the group relocated to Philadephia and changed their name to Sick Man of Europe but, that iteration also proved unsuccessful.

The shift to the name Cheap Trick saw Petersson and Neilsen return to Rockford, Illinois, and add drummer Bun E. Carlos and vocalist Randy “Xeno” Hogan to the line-up. Hogan’s tenure was short-lived as he was fired the following year. Robin Zander then replaced Hogan.

The group released its debut self-titled album in 1977 after touring with the likes of the Kinks, KISS, Santana, AC/DC, and Queen.


It wasn’t until the group stepped away from their harder rock side that Cheap Trick started to make waves. The sleek production and softer arrangement found on their second album In Color put a focus on the band’s harmonies. The new sound bolstered by their near-constant touring schedule pushed the band onto the U.S. charts for the first time.

Many fans credit their 1979 LP Cheap Trick At Budokan as their best album. The era-defining live album saw the group play at the legendary Tokyo Venue of the same name, delivering energetic versions of their biggest songs to date. Even songs that failed to make their mark upon their original release started to gain traction.

Among the tracklist were live versions of “Hello There,” “Downed” and “Need Your Love.” Find a taster of the record, below.

Cheap Trick (Photo: Martin Thompson)

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