How Elvis Presley Helped Cheap Trick – Twice
On both occasions, covering a Presley song led to moments of success, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
The first took place soon after Nielsen and Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson began working together in the late ‘60s.
“We were called the Grim Reapers and we recorded at this place in Janesville (Wisconsin),” the guitarist said. “It was in a barn and this guy [had] a four-track machine. We recorded a song called ‘Cruisin’ for Burgers’ and we did the song ‘Hound Dog,’ Elvis Presley’s song. We did a version of it, and the people at Epic Records heard it, and they decided they liked us well enough where they gave us a record deal. They asked us to change our name – they changed our name to Fuse.”
Listen to Fuse's Version of "Hound Dog"
Fuse eventually became Cheap Trick in 1973, and lived through a series of highs and lows before encountering a particularly difficult era in the mid-‘80s. That changed with the release of 1988 comeback album Lap of Luxury, which contained another Elvis track. “About 20 years later, we had the only version of an Elvis song that went to the Top 5 – ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’” Nielsen said. “So there’s two references to Elvis Presley in Cheap Trick’s career.”
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