Happy Birthday To Cheap Trick's Robin Zander

(Gibson) Every part of Cheap Trick contributes to the greater whole. Rick Nielsen provides the brains, the bombast and the humor. Bun E. Carlos is the muscle that propels the machine. Tom Petersson gives the greatly geeky lot a much-needed "cool" factor. But none of it would mean a thing… or at least, it would all be much less effective… if not for that voice.

Robin Zander was born on this day in 1953 in the town of Beloit, Wisconsin, along the Illinois border. The fourth of five children, Robin was raised in a musical household, with his father playing in a local jazz band. In 1964, though, he was floored – like most kids of his generation – by The Beatles' invasion of America. The following year, he got his first guitar and, shortly thereafter, formed his first band, The Destinations. As he progressed through school in Loves Park, Illinois, he bounced from band to band and sang in a choral group. Robin, as it so happened, was blessed with one of those one-in-million-voices that was both bell-clear and stentorian in its power. He was, to put it succinctly, the perfect rock singer. Which made his next move, at the dawn of the 1970s, a bit puzzling.

Chicago was teeming with garage rock bands like Shadows of Knight, The Cryan' Shames and the Grim Reapers (the latter featuring a certain Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson). Zander, though, followed a different path, teaming up with a pianist to form the folk duo Zander and Kent. Every summer, the duo held a residency in the resort area known as the Wisconsin Dells. In between gigs with Zander and Kent, he would sometimes moonlight in oldies bands with his pal, Brad Carlson (a.k.a. Bun E. Carlos). more on this story

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