Ahead of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, legendary rock group Cheap Trick stopped by The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday for the first time in nearly a decade. After discussing their new album Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello, an early encounter with David Bowie and their upcoming induction, songwriter and lead guitarist Rick Nielsen spoke about working with John Lennon.
Lennon recruited Nielsen and the band’s original drummer Bun E. Carlos to perform on his final album, Double Fantasy.
“He wanted a heavier sound because if you listen to Double Fantasy now, it sounds kind of loungy to me and it sounds like studio guys. He wanted a harder edge,” said Nielsen, who was featured on I’m Losing You and Moving On.
Nielsen had a monumental event happening in his personal life at the time, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to collaborate with the legendary former Beatle.
“This is a true story. T he day that he (Daxx) was born, was the day I was in the studio with John Lennon,” Nielsen said. “My wife called me and said we got a baby boy. We were in Canada and I got some Cuban cigars, smuggled them in and we all smoked and toasted in there.”
Daxx Nielsen, who was with his dad during the interview, is now the group’s drummer after Carlos’ departure. Nielsen said his wife was OK with it, and things would’ve been different had it been a studio session with a different artist.
“If it would’ve been Paul McCartney asking, I would’ve been in the hospital,” he said with a laugh.
Nielsen played the riff from I’m Losing You and said Lennon was immediately impressed upon hearing it.
“He said while I was playing Losing You, he said to Bun E. and Jack, ‘God, I wish I would’ve had him on ‘Cold Turkey.’ (Eric) Clapton choked up,’” Nielsen recalled.
There were discussions about doing a joint album with Cheap Trick and Lennon’s band. But with Lennon as the lead singer, where would that have left Cheap Trick vocalist Robin Zander?
“I would’ve been [on it], I would’ve forced my way in there somehow,” Zander said. “It would’ve been pretty cool, I wish I had been there.”
These plans never came to fruition as Lennon was killed three weeks after the release of Double Fantasy.
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