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Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen Has Loaned Guitars to Rock’s Finest

Rick Nielsen
Jo Hale, Getty Images

He’s one of rock’s most distinctive axemen, but even when he isn’t slinging riffs and peeling off licks, Cheap Trick‘s Rick Nielsen is a bona fide guitar hero.

A new profile piece in the West Australian touches on a couple of the many times Nielsen has loaned instruments to musicians in need, starting with the time in 1969 when he traveled to Philadelphia with a stack of six guitars for Jeff Beck, who’d just broken his on tour.

“I still have my ticket — back then it was a $21 round trip,” Nielsen recalled, adding that he and Beck jammed together for hours. “That was five or six years before Cheap Trick even existed, and eight years before our first record came out.”

He also came to the rescue for the Australian band Angels in 1980, loading up a van full of equipment after the group’s gear was stolen. “Luckily, they didn’t get their stuff stolen in Florida because I wouldn’t have gone, but it was only 70 miles away from where I lived. I loaded up whatever vehicle I had and drove into Chicago. I wanted to see the guys anyhow,” he laughed, adding that Cheap Trick’s 2015 Australian tour with Angels is happening partly because “I’m hoping to get my gear back finally.”

Conceding that the sheer number of guitars in his collection verges on the absurd — “Well, getting a five-neck is ridiculous, so I have three of them” — he scoffed at the notion of commissioning a six-necked addition, chuckling, “That’s stupid.”

And if Nielsen’s guitar inventory is grandiose, that doesn’t mean he harbors a similarly grand perception of Cheap Trick’s place in the rock pantheon. “We’re Cheap Trick, and the majority of people know about three songs and the real huge fans know about eight,” he laughed. “There are 292 songs people have never heard.”

Next: Top 10 Cheap Trick Songs

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