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Heavy Load: Rick Nielsen

The Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen on being arrested, getting “paddled” at school and playing with Lennon.

Rick Nielsen has been Cheap Trick’s gurning, scissor-kicking lead guitarist since the band formed in Rockford, Illinois in 1973. After 1978’s At Budokan live album, Cheap Trick became an arena act and an influence on bands as diverse as The Pixies and Mötley Crüe. Now gearing up for the release of the group’s seventeenth studio album, a tour and induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, the 67-year-old shows no sign of slowing down. “Music is my thing,” he says. “It’s what I do.”

How do you feel about Cheap Trick being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?

It feels like a validation of our whole career. I’ve heard all four of us will be there as well [estranged drummer Bun E Carlos filed a lawsuit against his bandmates in 2015]. That’s good. Bun E is a huge part of our history. But my son Daxx plays drums on our new record.

What does the new album’s title, Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello?, actually mean?

I originally wrote a song called Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello?, which evolved into a song on the new album called Long Time No See You. I wanted a title with four ‘impact’ words. The original was a kind of drinking song for people who don’t drink any more.

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