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Tragic Details About the Cheap Trick Band Members

Cheap Trick got their start in Rockford, Illinois, in 1973. The rock outfit’s original line-up consisted of guitarist Rick Nelson, bassist Tom Petersson, drummer Bun E. Carlos, and lead vocalist Randy “Xeno” Hogan. As is fairly typical with a band that’s been around for nearly half a century, Cheap Trick has gone through several different iterations over the last five decades. Today, their line-up consists of Nielsen, Peterson, and frontman Robin Zander.

Four years after forming, Cheap Trick released their debut self-titled album in 1977. With the release of their second studio album, In Color, later that year they found success in Japan. Two years later, they achieved mainstream success in the US with the release of their third critically acclaimed album Cheap Trick at Budokan.

That year, the band reached the top 10 on the US Billboard charts with the live version of their song ‘I Want You To Want Me’. A little under a decade later, Cheap Trick topped the US charts with their 1988 single ‘The Flame’.

Throughout their time as a band, Cheap Trick has sold more than 20 million albums and have played more than 5,000 shows. Not only has Cheap Trick built a dedicated fan base, but they’ve also experienced several resurgences in mainstream popularity over the decades they’ve been around. In 2016, Cheap Trick was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While Cheap Trick is a band that virtually everyone has heard of, there are plenty of details about their time in the spotlight that many of you likely are entirely unaware of. Hardship has routinely played an active role in their story. From the loss of their original lead singer to their early struggles to find success in a highly competitive dog-eat-dog industry, join Facts Verse as we discuss several Tragic Details About the Cheap Trick Band Members.

The Departure Of Xeno

Cheap Trick fans likely know very little about the band’s original lead singer Randy “Xeno” Hogan considering the fact that for every single Cheap Trick album the band’s frontman has been Robin Zander.

Fortunately, unlike groups like The Doors or Nirvana who lost their frontmen to death, Xeno voluntarily chose to leave Cheap Trick and is alive and well to this day. By leaving the band so early on in their journey, he joined a small club of rockers that includes the likes of Dave Evans, the original singer of AC/DC, who ditched their respective bands before they found commercial success,

Since leaving Cheap Trick, Xeno has been a member of the Midwestern rock group Bad Boys, who released moderately successful tracks such as Midnight Love and Private Party.

Although Cheap Trick’s success in America has never quite reached the same level as their success in Japan, the two bands are hardly comparable. That’s why Xeno still lists Cheap Trick as a credit on his professional website half a century later.

One might be tempted to criticize Xeno for leaving a band that eventually became world famous, but at the time back in 1973 Cheap Trick hadn’t even released an album yet, and it didn’t really look like the group was going anywhere.

During this early era, Cheap Trick was simply playing local shows in Wisconsin and Illinois, trying to cash in on the budding Glam Rock scene. After Xeno met Minnesota Glam Rock band Straight Up, they showed up one day in a white limo and offered him $250 a week to join their group.

For a 21 year old single guy in the early 70s that was quite a bit of money. So, he left Cheap Trick and joined Straight Up for some time before jumping ship once again to front Bad Boys. For Cheap Trick fans, Xeno’s departure wasn’t a very big deal, because not long after he left the group, Robin Zander was brought in as lead vocalist.

Robin was an excellent replacement for Xeno. While both rockers had long hair and a somewhat androgynous appearance, Robin was arguably far more attractive and had a stronger singing voice. Zander has continued to be the frontman of Cheap Trick ever since and most recently can be heard on the band’s twentieth studio album, In Another World, which was released on April 9, 2021.

Not to get too far off topic, but if you’ve been diggin’ this video so far, take a moment to show us a little support by giving it a like a subscribing to the Facts Verse channel. Stay tuned to learn all about the former Cheap Trick band members who no longer are with the band.

Few Original Members Remain

As of 2022, only three original members of Cheap Trick still tour and record with the band. Besides Xeno’s early departure, Tom Petersson left the band in 1980. He was replaced by John Brant but in 1987, Petersson returned to the group.

Bun E. Carlos stopped touring with Cheap Trick in 2010. Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx Nielsen filled in with Carlos previously, so when he left the band, Daxx became the full-time touring drummer.

Carlos filed a lawsuit against the band in 2013 claiming that they weren’t letting him still function as a member. They ended up settling the suit, however, and Carlos still owns a quarter of the band’s rights and is technically speaking still a member despite the fact that he no longer records or tours with them.

Pete Cornita played bass and provided backing vocals with the band from 1980 to 1981. Magic Cristian has played keys and provided backing vocals on and off with the band while on tour since 1982. He hasn’t performed with the group, however, since 2016.

Other touring musicians who have played with Cheap Trick over the years include Steve Walsh, Mark Radice, Tod Howarth, and Hank Ransome.

From Bowling Alleys To The Airwaves

After forming in 1973, Cheap Trick started playing at small concert venues, bars, and bowling alleys in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois.

When asked how the band developed their signature sound, Robin Zander has pointed to the fact that all four members of the original line-up came from distinct musical backgrounds. Drawing from such diverse acts as the Yardbirds to the Rolling Stones, Beatles, and the early Punk scene, Cheap Trick carefully crafted their sound to create something truly unique. Peterrson has been quoted as saying that what the band really delivers is what he calls ‘heavy pop music’. Regardless of what you call it, however, you know a Cheap Trick song when you hear it.

Producer Jack Douglas discovered the band while visiting a relative in Waukesha, Wisconsin. A buddy of his told him that he needed to come down to the local bowling alley, Sunset Bowl, to hear a band that was playing.

When Douglas arrived at the alley which featured a lounge, the space was packed to the brim with people who were absolutely blown away by what they were witnessing. Cheap Trick, ever since the get-go, liked to do things over the top. At that early bowling alley show, they pulled no punches. Douglas described the performance as ‘part carnival, part circus, and part rock ‘n roll show.’ He was absolutely astounded by what he was seeing and knew that the band had a future.

Douglas proceeded to call Epic Records head of A&R Tom Werman and insisted that he had to see the band play. Douglas said that if Werman didn’t come out he was going to take the group to RCA instead. So, Werman made his way out to Illinois and proceeded to sign the band on the spot.

By the time that Cheap Trick began recording their debut record, they already had a boatload of experience both performing live and writing their own original material.

Before they had even entered their first studio, Cheap Trick had already penned three of their biggest hits ‘Surrender’, ‘Dream Police’, and ‘I Want You To Want Me’. Oddly enough, however, not one of these songs were featured on their first self-titled album, which hit record stores in 1977. Their second full-length release, In Color, was released later that year, and that one did feature ‘I Want You To To Want Me’, but despite the fact that that track is now considered to be a classic, the album failed to chart.

After touring in Japan in 1978, Cheap Trick recorded two shows at the Nippon Budokan and took those tracks, compiled them, and released them as a live album called Cheap Trick at Budokan. That record ended up being their breakthrough, skyrocketing them to international fame.

20 studio and 8 live albums later, Cheap Trick is still going strong.

There most recent release ‘In Another World’ was initially slated for release in late 2019 but was disrupted by the COVID, which then was known as ncov-19. The album’s first catchy single ‘The Summer Looks Good On You’ was released in 2018, and a second single, a poltically-charged cover of John Lennon’s ‘Gimme Some Truth’ was released on November 29, 2019.

The album was released in April of 2021, following the release of two more singles ‘Light Up The Fire’ and ‘Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll’.

In Another World documents the current socially and politically polarized era in a very a very unique way. Zander has described the album as being a reflection of how everyone seems to be feeling at the moment. It’s a far more pessimistic record than their previous works, but it still takes time to paint an optimistic picture of what may be on the horizon for the world if we can work through all of our difficulties.

Nielsen says that the record is all about ‘finding the balance’. He insists that the band wasn’t trying to ‘do a Springsteen and preach to anybody’, but rather that the band was trying to show off a slice of their lives.

It’s nice to see that Cheap Trick is still going strong after all of these years. Sure, the band might not quite look the same as they once did – especially considering the numerous line-up changes – but very few rock bands can endure as long as they have.

Are you a fan of Cheap Trick? If so, what’s your favorite song of theirs? And did you know that their original lead singer, Xeno, left the group before they hit it big? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section down below.

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