Cheap Trick in Town

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

Cheap Trick "wanted the world to want them," and they got it. Back in the late 1970's we were "all shook up" about this band from the Forest City. The same phenomenon is happening all over again. Tuesday "Rockford" hits the music store shelves.

Rockford rolls out the red carpet to four hometown music sensations. On the eve of Cheap Trick’s 16th album being released it was only fitting to spend the night in Rockford. After all, our city's name is plastered all over the CD.

Rick Nielsen with Cheap Trick says, "We named it ‘Rockford’ because our roots are here. We honed our writing skills here. We practice a lot here. We went to school here. You know we are a blue color working band."

But not to these fan club members, who are basically VIPs in Cheap Trick’s mind. The original lineup of Robin Zander, Bun Carlos, Tom Peterson and Rick Nielsen say they've thought about calling other records "Rockford." But don't expect to be reminded of the Forest City when the CD spins.

Nielsen says, "If you played the whole record backwards it's a little chronological history of Rockford. It starts with Tinker Cottage, then the Aldeens, no."

Diehard fans have been studying up on Rockford for years. Kat Almlie is part of the fan club in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

She says, "They proved through time that you can be a rocker at any age. We're living proof that you can be over 40 and still rock."

And one trademark that has remained constant since the 70's is Cheap Trick’s Checks.

Lonnie Ballenger's wife was all decked out in checkered paraphernalia from head to toe. The two say Rockford is the farthest north they have traveled.

Lonnie Ballenger is a fan from Texas.

He says, "What a better title for the album than "Rockford" with them being from Rockford, and we’re here in Rockford so it's great. First time we've been to Rockford so it drew us up here."

Cheap Trick is also drawing a new generation of fans. Laura Valdez says, "My little sister is 15 and is a huge fan. She has all the CD’s and I listen to it all the time. It's great music."

Critics are already calling “Rockford” Cheap Trick’s best work yet.

You can get your own copy of “Rockford” on Tuesday. Cheap Trick plays up to 150 gigs a year. They leave for London on Thursday and will be at the Milwaukee Summerfest in July. You can also see a Cheap Trick Rockford billboard along I-90.


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