Cheap Trick has always maintained a strong connection to Rockford, Illinois.

The northern Illinois city with a population of a little less than 150,000 has played a pivotal role not only in the band's formation, but also in their business ventures later in life.

In return, Rockford really leans into the whole Cheap Trick thing.

Notable Cheap Trick Locations In Rockford

The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau maintains the Cheap Trick Fan Trail, a list of the band's former haunts including bars, music venues and high schools.

The Fan Trail concept was first released in 2014 alongside "Rick's Picks: A Lifelong Affair With Guitars and Music," an exhibit at a local museum featuring a selection of Rick Nielsen's many guitars.

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While the exhibit is no longer available, the Rockford Convention and Visitors Bureau still promotes the Cheap Trick Fan Trail and other related info about the band at

Among the notable spots on the Fan Trail list is the Sinnissippi Park Music Shell. Fuse, featuring Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson, played the bandshell in 1969. They would return to the venue to play a show as Cheap Trick on Mother's Day six years later.

Also featured is the Winnebago County Fairgrounds, where Cheap Trick returned for a homecoming show with AC/DC and Molly Hatchet on July 4, 1979.

Cheap Trick Members Still Living In The Rockford Area

Cheap Trick formed in Rockford in 1973 with original lead singer Randy "Xeno" Hogan, who was quickly replaced by Robin Zander.

Multiple releases from the band have ties to their hometown. A live album, Silver, recorded during their 25th anniversary concert at Rockford's Davis Park, was released in 2001.

Cheap Trick also used the town's name for the title of their 15th studio album, 2006's Rockford.

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"It's a city that's always in transition, has been since I first came here back when I was a kid," Nielsen told the Rockford Register Star in 2017. "There's always something getting fixed, always something getting torn down. It's a real city, the good, the bad and the ugly. I call it home."

Nielsen is involved with multiple businesses there, including the Stockholm Inn, a restaurant known for its Swedish pancakes.

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Both Nielsen and original drummer Bun E. Carlos still maintain residences in the Rockford area. In recent years, Nielsen has vocally supported a Hard Rock Casino that is targeted to open in August 2024 in the city.

Plans for the casino show an oversized version of Nielsen's iconic checkered guitar near its front entrance. image image

Regarding plans to include his style in the casino's design, Nielsen told WIFR, "I have guitars all over the world, but to have something permanent here is ... fantastic."

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