Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace: Is Cheap Trick the Greatest American Rock Band of All Time?

Kurt Davis is the Office Manager here at Harmonix.

Here’s a good discussion (argument) starter: Who is the Greatest American Rock Band of All Time? It’s actually a much smaller list of contenders than you might at first think. While there are a lot of American bands to consider, many of them don’t really have the longevity, catalog or just plain weight of, say, a Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Beatles, Stones or The Who, to merit genuine, objective inclusion. Aerosmith would have to be included in the conversation, just by the undeniable greatness of their early work and their staying power, but then who? The Grateful Dead? Too marginal, and, really, they made their reputation on the road and not with their recorded output. The Velvet Underground? While they’re hugely influential and their catalog is also undeniably great, they are pretty far off the well-worn path of the mainstream, aside from being out and out weird. The Pretenders? Nah, they were mostly British. DEVO? I love them, but, come on! My personal favorite, The Stooges, are also marginal and weird and too obscure, really, for serious consideration. I’d give Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top, The Ramones and KISS a realistic run and wouldn’t deny them entrance.

But there’s another band that’s been together since 1973, kicking it out on the road and in the studio with basically the same line up since their inception, writing great tunes and surviving, nay THRIVING, due to their relentless persistence and enormous talent. That band is Cheap Trick. And who could really deny Cheap Trick the title Great, with a capital “G”? Quite simply, Cheap Trick freakin’ rock! After all the many years I’ve been listening to music I gave some serious thought to the question: “ What one album I may have listened to more than any other in my whole, entire, life?” and I think the answer might well be Cheap Trick their self-titled debut from 1977. I started listening to it when it came out and I still throw it on regularly. I never get tired of it. Never. I hungrily bought each successive release up through Dream Police and Live at Budokan (which I bought as an expensive Japanese import way back when, on vinyl, natch, before it became available domestically) and went to see them a bunch of times, back in the '70s. They were awesome, by the way.

Rick Nielsen, aside from being a blistering and original guitar player, has also written some of the best rock songs ever. Bun E. Carlos has always been a solid time keeper but that’s only half the story; he also plays with a natural feel and throws in some of the best fills in all of Rockdom. Robin Zander is an amazingly talented and versatile singer as adept at singing a pretty melody as he is screaming his throat raw. Tom Petersson plays with an aggressive, biting tone, but also fleshes out the bottom and holds it down, and it occurs to me that Cheap Trick has one of the most underrated rhythm sections of all time, too. The best part is that as a band they are even greater than the sum of their (already great) parts.

I stopped buying their records as I got deeper into punk, but Cheap Trick kept plowing right along, and even scored some pretty big hits along the way. They’re still going and still cranking out the Rock (a stage collapsed recently while they were playing in Ottawa. Fortunately, none of the band members were injured. Singer Robin said ‘Fortunately the band and crew are all lucky to be alive and we’ll see you down the road…”)

Although Bun E. is no longer touring, they show no signs of stopping, and why should they? They are Cheap Trick. They are a rock band. This is what they do. This is what they’ve always done. It’s their life. So, is Cheap Trick The Greatest American Rock Band of All Time?

I wouldn’t argue against it. Besides isn’t “Surrender” better than “Dream On”, anyway?

I wink. I wink and wink and wink.

For more on this week's Cheap Trick DLC, check out the official announcement.


This is absurd. Cheap Trick isnt even worth wasting my time to write this.. No wonder we get such mediocre dlc. Is this the guy that chose the Yes selections. My cat could have picked better Yes songs than those.

Hell no, I love pretty much from 90's and earlier but I would go with justin beiber over cheap trick.

Well, in regards to American bands, you have Blue Oyster Cult, The Doors, CCR, Grand Funk Railroad, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica, Dream Theater, I could go on. And regarding Nyghtmarexm, Roger Waters is so set on hating the rhythm genre of video games that it will be a long time before we get any Pink Floyd.

The author failed to mention Van Halen. A band with plenty of great mainstream songs, and have been around since the 70's. And oh can they play musically. Van Halen is one of the best guitarist ever. And Alex Van Halen is at least one of the best drummers of his era. And bass player Michael Anthony is no pushover either. He plays well and sings background vocals even better.

I had to google these guys just to remind what songs they had. So much for 'the greatest band'

Ok, apparently, music and geography were not strong suits for the author. Zeppelin was/is British, as were the Beatles, Stones and Doors. AC/DC is Australian. So, if we are actually talking about American bands, that limits us quite a bit. Hendrix? Elvis (as much as I hate him), Perl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, ZZ Top, R.E.M, KISS, Tom Petty? But Cheap Trick? They are crap, always have been, always will be. How anyone would even say they make the top 5 of ANY list is beyond me. But, considering that they had the intro music for Rock Band 2, I think this is just the Rock Band folks kissing up to them. Easy test, without naming bands, ask a few random people who the greatest American rock band is. Once you eliminate the non American ones, I would bet you would be hard pressed to even get Cheap Trick mentioned.

People just shut up about stuff! Cheap Trick is awesome in their own right! What we need is more one-hit wonders... like Five Man Electrical Band, Mannfred Mann's Earth Band, Focus, etc.

Did someone say ZZTop Woo Hoo can't wait! Led Zepplin what really?!? Now Cheap Trick. Thanks RockBand

The best American Rock Bands are in my opinion, The Doors, and Creedence Clearwater Revival..

It does my heart good (no pun intended) to hear Van Halen Heart and Journey so frequently cited. Now if we'd just get more on RB3. Fleetwood Mac should probably also be on that list. However I'm not sure how you could really argue with Aerosmith, I mean, they have a roller coaster at DisneyWorld, they must be the greatest!

Ok im not a fan of the boss but him and the E street needs to be included and same for aerosmith, VH, And journey. But while megadeth is a great its all dave mustaine not a core group of band members and metallica is a giant too but we all know how it goes for them need i have to mention st. Anger. But we have to mention Pearl Jam. Theyre comin up on theyre 20th anniversary and have a huge catalog and have gone against the american band typicalness of breaking up theyve stay together with all core members and continue to write good albums and sell out arenas!! Theyre my vote and they deserve an honorary track pack!!

Cheap Trick? You have to be kidding!!!!!! Not evern close, this writer must be on drugs. Just say no

Another week without Pink Floyd...

Really 350, Bon Jovi & Metallica?.. Don't even put them in the same sentence as VH, Aerosmith, Journey & Heart. Simon & Garfunkel is a good one Rune,but i disagree with the Replacements. Really though it's all based on personal opinion though. :

Oh noes! hateful opinions incoming! D=

I don't think Cheap Trick is even a "good" band, nevermind the greatest. Throw rocks if you must. Some bands that come to mind for me: Van Halen, Aerosmith, Kiss, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Megadeth, Journey, and Heart.

You forgot Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Talking Heads (these guys practically mainstreamed an experimental but accessible approach towards popular music), Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, X, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley & The Blue Moon Boys (yes, they were a band), and The Replacements, all serious contenders for "greatest American rock n' roll band". Cheap Trick are certainly overlooked, though.

Um but Axl is an ass.

Um Guns N' Roses are American.