Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen: “I’m not a virtuoso. I’m a songwriter that plays rhythm guitar – and once in a while I have to play lead”

Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick
(Image credit: Adam Gasson/Future)

Rick Nielsen doesn't always take himself too seriously. Music, however, is another story. He vividly recalls working at his father’s music store in Rockford, Illinois, as a kid and being surrounded by interesting characters. It was hard work, but it was educational.

“I started working when I was eight,” he says. “I goofed off a lot, though I still do… [Laughs] [I remember] the different people I’d meet and the different music I was around – all the Top 40 records and the guitars. I started out as a drummer, so I was most interested in drums, but then I got addicted to guitars. They were easier to carry around. I enjoyed meeting all the different people. I rented Sam Kinison a PA because he was an evangelist in those days!”

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Joshua M. Miller

Josh is a freelance journalist who has spent the past dozen or so years interviewing musicians for a variety of publications, including Guitar World,, SPIN, Chicago Sun-Times, MTV News, Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. He credits his father for getting him into music. He's been interested in discovering new bands ever since his father gave him a list of artists to look into. A favorite story his father told him is when he skipped a high school track meet to see Jimi Hendrix in concert. For his part, seeing one of his favorite guitarists – Mike Campbell – feet away from him during a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert is a special moment he’ll always cherish.