State of Sound
Power Pop

What a wonderful combination:

Power Pop. It goes together like fries and a shake or salt and pepper. The power is delivered from tight chords, nothing too fancy but always appointed. The Pop is melodic and often playful. There is no option but to “Surrender,” as Rockford’s Cheap Trick sang in 1978.

Pop music was a smooth creation of the late 1950s and early 1960s that was grounded in song structure. Power Pop turned that upside down in the 1970s with blazing guitars, drums, occasional keyboards, and driving harmonies. Tommy Gauvenda, guitarist for the Oak Park Pop band Pezband, once said that, if New York was the Stones, Chicago was The Beatles. And there was an accessible groove to the heartland sound.

Power Pop exploded across Illinois. For every band that scored major radio airplay, like Cheap Trick, Zion’s Shoes and Blue Island’s Enuff z’ Nuff, so many others were toiling away in the garages and basements of Champaign-Urbana, Carbondale, Springfield, and other ports. Young Power Pop musicians were devoted to blowing off steam and that was all that mattered. Music captured in such uncompromising passion is often the most memorable.

Featured Artist:
Cheap Trick

Play the Biography

 Biography Transcript

Cheap Trick 

Formed in 1973, Rockford based band Cheap Trick first found success in Japan with the release of their second album In Color. It was, however, a live recording during an April 1978 tour of Japan that paved the way for success in their home country.

Initially the album Cheap Trick at Budokan was only scheduled to be released in Japan, but after the success of the single “Surrender” in the U.S. from the band’s third album, demand for the live recording was met with a U.S. release.

Still considered their most successful album , Cheap Trick at Budokan was recently selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

In 2016 Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the classic line up of front man Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos performed several songs including the classic Budokan track “I want you to Want me.” 

Artists of the Sound

New Colony Six
Cryan’ Shames
Material Issue
Off Broadway


Custom Hamer Guitar Owned by Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and charismatic Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen has always been larger than life. Over the years, Hamer made him many iconic instruments that defy the laws of engineering. This guitar is a variation on the double-necked “Uncle Dick” design. Nielson dubbed it “Little Dick.”

Courtesy of Rick Nielsen
of Cheap Trick

Custom-Made Sweater for Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen has an eccentric persona. He has worn many memorable outfits over the years, including this sweater from the 1980s featuring Nielsen’s face on the front and the band’s repeated style logo presented upside down on the back.

Courtesy of Rick Nielsen
of Cheap Trick

Pezband Drumhead

Pezband was a quintessential and influential Power Pop band, formed in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1971.  Inspired by the Schlitz Brewing Company logo, lead singer/guitarist Mimi Betinis hand-painted this drumhead and used it for live performances, from 1972-1976.

Courtesy of Mimi Betinis

Drumhead from Mike Zelenko of Material Issue, ca. 1994

Carrying the torch of the second wave of Chicago Power Pop, Material Issue burst on the scene with their critically acclaimed major label debut, International Pop Overthrow. Drummer Mike Zelenko used this drumhead during the band’s “Freak City Soundtrack” tour.

Courtesy of Mike Zelenko

The Kind Self-Titled Debut Record and Master Tape, 1982

The Kind was an engaging Power Pop band from Oak Park which started in 1977. This master tape and tracking sheet is from their recording sessions at Pumpkin Studios in Oak Lawn for their debut selftitled album in 1982. They had a hit with the song “Loved By You” and their song “Total Insanity” was recently featured in a Motley Crue film The Dirt.

Courtesy of Frank Jalovec, Frank Capek,
Frank Sberno, Mark Gardner, and Mike Scheid

Custom-Made Hamer Guitar for Jeff Murphy of Shoes

Shoes guitarist Jeff Murphy ordered this guitar from Hamer in 1979 as the band had been signed to Elektra Records where they released several critically-acclaimed albums and videos for MTV and VH-1. The guitar was blue when it arrived for their first tour, but over the years the blue faded to a natural finish.

Courtesy of Shoes

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