I Bet You Say That to All the Bands…A Cheap Trick Top Ten Story!


Robin Zander 1

The last time I saw Cheap Trick was New Year’s Eve 2016 in Las Vegas. They rocked! Robin Zander up close and personal! Las Vegas. 2016. Photo by Greg Vessar.

Let me set the stage for this quick rock-n-roll story of love and and a rock idol. It was the mid 80s and Melissa and I were, at that time, part of a group of single college friends that loved to hang out and listen to rock-n-roll and go to concerts whenever we could afford a ticket. So, when it was announced that REO Speedwagon would play in Kansas City at Kemper Arena, it was suggested we go. I had been to an REO show before and it was great, but my interest was really piqued when I heard that Cheap Trick would be the opening act. I loved Cheap Trick…still do! Robin Zander is the preeminent rock roll singer and one of my rock-n-roll idols. Cool…talented…voice made for rock…great hair…good looking…he was the entire lead singer package! I first witnessed Robin’s talent in the late 70s at my first ever concert. The concert was in St. Joseph, Missouri and featured Cheap Trick and Dr. Hook. Robin, Tom, Rick, and Bun E. were rock-n-roll gods to me that night. I’ve been a Cheap Trick fan since that show. 

And it was no different at this mid 80s show. Cheap Trick started the night right and rocked the roof off of Kemper Arena. I was mesmerized by Zander and company again. This was only my second Cheap Trick show (I have since been to many Cheap Trick concerts and I have never been disappointed). Their time ended that night, the lads exited the stage and the roadies prepared the way for REO. During this intermission, I looked over at Melissa and innocently stated that I loved Cheap Trick and they were the reason I came to this REO show in the first place. She looked at me in amazement and admitted the same was true for her! I knew there was something special about this girl! We compared songs and our love of Cheap Trick during the short time it took the stage to be prepared for Cronin and Richrath. I also learned that  she too was/is head over heels about Robin Zander. And if you read my blog post “REO Speedwagon and Ozark”, you know that a certain special REO song performed that night is one of the reasons we began seriously dating one another. 

Rick Nielsen

Rick Nielsen Signature Guitar. New Years Eve Las Vegas. 2016. Photo by Greg Vessar.

After the concert, our little group decided to walk around behind Kemper to do rock-n-roll geeky stuff. You know… to feel that buzz of rock-n-roll electricity and try to be a part of the scene: tour buses, semi-trailers, band equipment, professional groupies and to maybe glimpse the band or those chosen few with the coveted backstage passes. As we walked past this one particular tour bus, the door opened and I could not believe my eyes…Robin Zander walked down the bus steps and was standing right in front of me! He had a beautiful girl on each arm and looked exactly like the rock idol I have watched and listened to for years. We made eye contact…I thought I was going to pass out, but I actually spoke to him! The conversation that I will never forget went like this:

Star Struck Me: Robin Zander! 

Robin: Hey man! (Shakes my hand!)

Star Struck Me: You guys rocked!

Robin: So you enjoyed the show?

Star Struck Me: Oh yeah…Cheap Trick is the reason I’m here! I only came to see you!

Robin: I bet you say that to all the bands! 

Robin Zander 2

Sure, I’ll sing with you Robin! Robin Zander up close and personal on New Year’s Eve 2016. Las Vegas. 2016. Photo by Greg Vessar.

And with that, he disappeared into that veiled,  secret world of backstage at a rock concert. Thank you Cheap Trick and REO for opening the door to the best thing that ever happened to me: Melissa.  If I had not been so starstruck at my rock idol’s presence, my reply would have been, “No Robin, just Cheap Trick and the girl I plan on marrying one day!” 

My Cheap Trick Top Ten!

  1. Surrender (Live at Budokan)
  2. Dream Police
  3. Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo
  4. I Want You to Want Me (Live at Budokan)
  5. Can’t Stop Falling Into Love
  6. If You Want My Love
  7. Say Goodbye
  8. I Can’t Take It
  9. She’s Tight
  10. California Girl

Screen Shot 2020-05-16 at 10.41.36 PM

Learn which REO song is the song Melissa and I call “our song”. Click the link to be transported to my post “REO Speedwagon and Ozark” at A Thousand Miles from Kansas. 

https://displacedkansan.com/2020/05/05/reo-speedwagon-and-ozark/

© 2020 Gregory Vessar. All Rights Reserved.

Categories: Love, Memoir, Music, Top TenTags: , , , ,

4 comments

  1. I was there, it was really cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great story. I can’t remember if they opened up for REO when I saw them in concert. Maybe. I love Cheap Trick now but didn’t really appreciate them at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

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