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Rock Hall inductions put Heart, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett on the road together

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts have shared myriad concert bills since all three began touring during the 70s.

But each of the veteran acts’ recent inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame provided a hook for this summer’s Rock Hall Three For All tour, a triple-bill that kicks off Thursday, July 14, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre and has more than 30 dates booked into September.

Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen expects a night of “male AND female testosterone,” acknowledging the hard-rocking approach of his tourmates. But he’s also confident the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts for fans trooping out to the shows.

“Y’know, it’s all good bands, bands that have stood the test of time,” says Nielsen, 67, whose band was inducted in April and will be going on first each night, with Heart closing the shows. “We’re all still making records, too, and that’s almost unheard of.”

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the three groups’ Rock Hall experiences, and what they’ve led to.


Inducted 2013

What It Means To Them; “There’s not much to do except go there and be adored for the night, and the next day you go back to work,” recalls Ann Wilson, 66. And that was fine with she and her sister Nancy Wilson, who co-founded Heart with sister Nancy Wilson during 1973 in Seattle. “Oh yes, adoration is fabulous, we love it.”

Nevertheless, Wilson says she was surprised when the Rock Hall tapped her band for induction.

“I never even really thought it would be something that would come our way, to be honest,” she says. “But I’m beyond thrilled. That kind of acknowledgement is just amazing. We’re out working so hard all the time, and at times it can really feel like a tree falling in the forest that no one knows about, so this showed us that people DO know.”

What’s Happened Since: Heart has never stopped working, and the three years since it’s Rock Hall entrance has seen the group release two live DVDs as well as a new studio album, “Beautiful Broken,” that came out July 8 and features a guest appearance by Metallica’s James Hetfield on the title track. The set features new versions of some deep cuts from the Heart catalog as well as three new songs that take their spirit from working up new material while on tour, which Wilson feels gives the album a unique kind of energy.

“We wanted ot make another record, and then the question was, ‘Yeah, you do, but when do you do that, because you’re on the road all the time,” Wilson says. “The answer is, ‘Well, you do it on the road,’ because nowadays you have the technology to do that.

“You get the spark of the live performance that way, in the basic track, which is something that’s really hard to attain in the studio. It’s hard to get that real, vital spark that you get live. But this let us do that.”


Inducted 2016.

What It Means To Them: “It’s like an acknowledgement, proof of work or something,” Nielsen says of the Rock Hall honor. The April 8 ceremony in Brooklyn allowed Cheap Trick, which was inducted by Kid Rock, to reunite with exiled drummer Bun E. Carlos, who’s still considered part of the band even though he doesn’t record and tour with it anymore, and the quartet also hosted the show-closing jam featuring members from the other inducted acts.

“It’s like you’re more credible, I guess -- if that’s the right word you want for a rock band, credible,” Nielsen adds. “We could go out and play 300 shows a year and people see you and go, ‘So Rick, what’s now?’ But when the Hall of Fame was announced everybody got real excited. The Hall of Fame, it’s something that a lot of people can understand whether they understand what you’re doing. It’s still exciting; Unless they decided to take the award back, I’m in it for life.”

What Happened Next: A week before the ceremony the Illinois-formed Cheap Trick released “Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello,” its first new album in seven years. The set was already in progress when the Rock Hall induction was announced back in December, with an April 1 release date already on the books. Nevertheless Nielsen feels like the 11-song set -- which includes a guest appearance by MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer on the track “Do You Believe Me?” -- has all the sonic hallmarks that got Cheap Trick into the Hall.

“We never try to be something we’re not,” Nielsen explains. “There’s no 10-minute songs and there’s no, ‘Alright, we’ve got to do this kind of solo.’ We’re a basic rock ‘n’ roll band. that’s it.

“Nobody was clamoring to have a brand new Cheap Trick record, but we did it on our own dime and recorded over 30 tracks. We weren’t even thinking we were gonna get signed (to a record label deal). A lot of things kind of worked out together at the same time.”


Inducted 2015

What It Meant To Her: “I’ll tell ya, it’s a roiling pot of emotions,” Jett (nee Larkin), 57, says of her induction. “I’m amazed. I’m happy. I’m honored. I’m flabbergasted. It feels surreal. I just think about all the musicians in the history of music that have been out there making records, touring. That I get chosen in this elite group of musicians is pretty incredible. YOu don’t think about those things; You just go out there and do your job. If something like those accolades get put onto you, then it’s an extra bonus. I think it’s a gift, and I don’t think you can sort of expect it.”

What’s Happened Since: Jett -- who was part of Nirvana’s Rock Hall induction in 2014 -- has toured with the Who during the past couple of years and played as part of Foo Fighters 20th anniversary show last July in Washington, D.C. Her last album, “Unvarnished,” was released in 2013 and was her first in seven years, and while Jett hopes the next one won’t take as long to come out, she doesn’t feel a need to hurry, either.

“We play live a lot, and that’s really what I like doing best,” she says. “I still like to write songs and have new material, and I’m sure we’ll do some recording soon, but we stay pretty busy and it’s not always easy to do.”

Rock Hall Three For The Hall featuring Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $30.50-$115.50 pavilion, $24 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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