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Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson

Though bassist Tom Petersson left pop-metal rockers Cheap Trick for a spell in the '80s, he is now firmly ensconced in the veteran band, which has been busy touring during the past few years.

He was born Thomas Peterson on May 9, 1950, in Rockford, Ill. Petersson played in the rock band Fuse in the late '60s with guitarist Rick Nielsen.

After issuing a flop LP in 1968, the group added another future Trickster, drummer Bun E. Carlos, and changed its name to Sick Man of Europe. Then singer Robin Zander joined and the band began calling itself Cheap Trick and toured constantly — opening for such groups as Kiss, Santana and Boston.

Cheap Trick's first three albums were not big sellers. But its fourth release, Live at Budokan (1979), recorded at a gig in Japan, was a breakthrough. The LP was buoyed by the hit singles "I Want You to Want Me" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Surrender."

The band found itself headlining huge venues and issued Dream Police that same year. But subsequent LPs were increasingly unpopular with the public, and Petersson quit before the release of One on One (1982).

Petersson returned before Lap of Luxury (1988), which brought Cheap Trick back to the top of the charts with the #1 single "The Flame" and the top-10 cover of Elvis Presley's classic "Don't Be Cruel." But Cheap Trick's return to the spotlight was cut short when Busted (1990) flopped.

Woke Up With a Monster (1994) marked the band's switch from Epic Records to Warner Bros., but didn't change its commercial fortunes. Around this time, alternative-rockers began citing Cheap Trick as a major influence, restoring the band's tarnished reputation.

Rockers Smashing Pumpkins called on Cheap Trick to be their opening act in 1995, and the following year, the Tricksters played Lollapalooza. In 1996, the group issued the

well-received box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick.

In 1997, Cheap Trick signed with the indie label Red Ant and issued an eponymous album. The following year, the group toured the United States playing its early LPs in their entirety, including Live at Budokan. These gigs supported the CD re-release of Cheap Trick, In Color and Heaven Tonight.

Last year the band issued Music for Hangovers, chronicling shows from 1998.

Other birthdays Tuesday: Nokie Edwards (Ventures), 61; Pete Birrell (Freddie and the Dreamers), 59; Tommy Roe, 58; Don Dannemann (Cyrkle), 56; Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield, Poco), 56; Steve Katz (Blood, Sweat and Tears), 55; Clint Holmes, 54; Richard Hudson (Strawbs), 52; Billy Joel, 51; John Edwards (Status Quo), 47; Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), 38; Paul Heaton (Housemartins, the Beautiful South, Beats International), 38; Tamia, 25; and Dan Regan (Reel Big Fish), 23.