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THE BAND

TESLA formed in 1984 in Sacramento as City Kidd, and was renamed TESLA during the recording of their first album, 1986’s Mechanical Resonance, on the advice of their manager that City Kidd was not a great name (in addition, there was already another band going by that name). The band derived their name, certain album and song titles, and some song content from events relating to inventor and electrical engineer NIKOLA TESLA.

The band’s lineup features lead vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta.

“One of my all time favorite rock bands.”

– Eddie Trunk

TESLA’s music is often referred to as heavy metal, but is better described as blues metal. The band’s lyrics also strayed from the themes popular in heavy metal, particularly in the 1980’s at the beginning of their career. A further distinction from their contemporaries was their blue-collar, T-shirt-and-jeans image which was in strong contrast to glam bands of the time, which were characterized by big hair, leather pants, and flashy makeup.

During the early years of their career, TESLA toured with David Lee Roth, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith. TESLA will again be joining their good friends in Def Leppard and Styx this summer as they tour the United States.

Studio Albums

Thanks to their die-hard, loyal fan base and their younger generation offspring, TESLA continues to tour to sold-out crowds around the world. TESLA’s 2009 FOREVER MORE tour in support of the new album of the same name, gives their audience a 25-year musical journey that keeps the loyal fans coming back and has newcomers realizing, “WOW, I didn’t know they did that song! ”TESLA’s album, Forever More contains the first single “I Wanna Live,” along with “Breakin’ Free” and the self-titled track that opens the show nightly.

TESLA’s first HAC (Hot AC) track off Forever More, “Fallin’ Apart” is accompanied by a concept video available for viewing online. The ballad is sure to touch the hearts of music fans, similar to the way their hit single and crowd favorite, “Love Song” did in years past.

TESLA were formed in Sacramento, CA, in 1985, out of an earlier, locally popular group called City Kidd, which dated back to 1982. The band wrote original music and knew their name didn’t fit the sound. At management’s suggestion, the band named itself after the eccentric inventor Nikola TESLA, who pioneered the radio but was given only belated credit for doing so.

After playing several showcases in Los Angeles, TESLA quickly scored a deal with Geffen and released their debut album, Mechanical Resonance, in 1986; it produced the hard rock hits and crowd favorite, “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Little Suzi.” Mechanical Resonance reached the Top 40 on the album charts, and eventually went platinum.

It was the follow-up, 1989’s, which truly broke the band. The first single, “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” was a hit with hard rock audiences, setting the stage for the second single, a comforting ballad called “Love Song” which substituted a dash of hippie utopianism for the usual power ballad histrionics.

“Love Song” hit the pop Top Ten and made the band stars, pushing The Great Radio Controversy into the Top 20 and double-platinum sales figures; the follow-up single, “The Way It Is,” was also a hit.

TESLA’s music was sturdy enough to hold up when its roots were exposed, and one of the covers, “Signs,” became another Top Ten hit, as well as the band’s highest-charting single. Not only did Five Man Acoustical Jam reach the Top 20 and go Platinum, it helped directly inspire MTV’s “Unplugged” series, both with its relaxed vibe and its reminder that acoustic music could sound vital and energetic. This album is credited for starting the whole “Unplugged” craze of the ‘90s which included artist like Eric Clapton, Nirvana, and many others following suit with acoustic live albums.

The studio follow-up to The Great Radio Controversy, Psychotic Supper, was released in 1991 and quickly became another platinum hit and spun off the greatest number of singles of any TESLA album: “Edison’s Medicine,” “Call It What You Want,” “Song and Emotion,” and the classic hit, “What You Give,” which was another one of TESLA’s ballad singles that reached Top 20 radio airplay.

“One of the BEST live performances we’ve had in the 27 year history of Rockline!”

– Bob Coburn

Their 1994 follow-up, Bust a Nut, sold over 800,000 copies, and battling the “Seattle Invasion” in 1994, was a testament to the loyal fan base TESLA had managed to cultivate over the years. The single, “Mama’s Fool” was well received, however at this point the band was suffering internal problems and decided to dis-band for the next five years.

Returning with their first studio album of all original music, TESLA wrote and recorded the album Into the Now, and for the first time, self produced the album along with audio engineer Michael Rosen (Testament, AFI, Santana). Released in March, 2004, Into The Now was an autobiographical testament of a band from a previous decade plunging forward into a new era of music, and producing a sound that could compete with modern music of the day. The album successfully showed that the band could evolve sonically with aggressive songs like “Heaven 911” and the title track “Into the Now,” and “Caught in a Dream” which received massive radio airplay as well.

During this time, management and label changes were made, bringing us to the independent era of today’s TESLA.

In 2008, the band released its seventh studio album, Forever More, an all-new collection of songs including, “I Wanna Live,” “Breakin’ Free,” “Fallin’ Apart” and the title track “Forever More.” The release reunited the band with producer Terry Thomas, who helmed 1994’s, Bust a Nut.

TESLA is more creative now than ever, simultaneously creating and producing their own videos and albums. The release of the self-produced Comin Atcha Live 2008! marks their first ever HD release of a full electric concert DVD.

With this new-found creativity and the album Forever More, the band has taken control of their career, releasing the album on CD (and a limited-edition vinyl package) around the world through their band-owned and operated label, TESLA Electric Company Recordings.

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Background

In late 1982, bassist Brian Wheat (age 20) and guitarist Frank Hannon (age 15) formed City Kidd, a band that then spent time gigging at Sacramento’s defunct Oasis Ballroom. They also began working with American rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose towards writing hard rock hit singles, reasoning “We wanted to get signed, and we thought the way to do that was to write a hit single.”New producers and managers turned the group towards radio pop rock and, to come up with the appropriate material, band manager Steve Clausman hired Grammy award winner Duane Hitchings, who provided the music to Rod Stewart songs such as “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and “Infatuation”. A representative from Geffen Records then saw where the City Kidd band was headed and let them know that he would only sign them if they “[wrote] from the gut and not from formulas.”By 1986, the band had again changed its direction under a new name, TESLA.

Formation and ‘Mechanical Resonance’ (1982-1988)

The band City Kidd was renamed TESLA during the recording of their first album, 1986’s Mechanical Resonance, on the advice of their manager that City Kidd was not a great name (in addition, there was already another band going by that name). The band derived their name, certain album and song titles, and some song content from events relating to inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Along with the band’s next two studio albums, Mechanical Resonance was produced by Michael Barbiero and Steve Thompson

The band’s original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta.

TESLA’s music is often referred to as hard rock or hair metal. The band’s lyrics also strayed from the themes popular in hard rock, particularly in the 1980s at the beginning of their career. In the early days of their career, TESLA toured with David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, and Poison which resulted in the band being categorized as a glam metal band. The band’s members resented this labelling. The band was booed off the stage while opening for Def Leppard at Calgary, which was unfair as they were playing well, but were then hardly known and the crowd wanted the main act.

‘The Great Radio Controversy’ and ‘Psychotic Supper’ (1989-1993)

It was three years before the band released their second album, The Great Radio Controversy. The album helped solidify the band’s growing reputation and fan base. The album produced the hit single, a classic ’80s power ballad “Love Song”.

In 1990, TESLA released Five Man Acoustical Jam, a live album featuring acoustic renditions of hits such as “Comin’ Atcha Live”, “Gettin’ Better”, “Modern Day Cowboy”, and “Love Song”. The album also featured a number of covers most notably a version of “Signs”, a 1971 hit by the Five Man Electrical Band.

In 1991 the band released their third studio album Psychotic Supper. The band itself considers this to be their best album according to their official web site. The 1998 Japanese reissue import of Psychotic Supper contains three previously unreleased songs, including “Rock the Nation”, “I Ain’t Superstitious”, and “Run Run Run”.

‘Bust a Nut’ and hiatus (1994-1999)

In 1994 the band released their fourth studio album Bust a Nut. The 1998 Japanese reissue import of Bust a Nut contains the previously unreleased cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean”.

After the release of Bust a Nut, Skeoch departed because of his struggle with substance abuse. He rejoined after completing rehab, only to depart again months later. The band moved forward as a four piece for a short while. However, it wasn’t long before Skeoch briefly joined up with solo artist Marshall Coleman’s band to support his solo career, only to see a departure of Marshall soon after. This band eventually morphed to include Jeff Keith and resurfaced as Bar 7 with a single “Four Leaf Clover”, from the album The World Is a Freak. Brian Wheat formed Soulmotor and Frank Hannon Moon Dog Mane, while Troy Luccketta worked with several local artists including the Bay Area’s One Thin Dime.

Reunion (2000-present)

After a break of six years, the Sacramento Bee reported that the band had reformed in 2000 with the help of local radio personality Pat Martin of KRXQ. The band played an emotional sold out show at Arco Arena in Sacramento on October 25, 2000. Soon after they recorded the double live album Replugged Live. In 2002 they were featured in the Rock Never Stops Tour alongside other 1980s rock bands.

2002 saw the release of a further live album Standing Room Only which is just a single CD version of Replugged Live.

In 2004 they released their fifth studio album Into the Now which debuted on the Billboard album chart at number 30. The album was well received by fans and the band was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

In February 2005, TESLA headlined a benefit show at the PPAC in Providence, Rhode Island for the victims of the Station nightclub fire. During the show the band auctioned off an autographed acoustic guitar with the proceeds going to the Station Family Fund. 100% of the ticket sales also went to this charity.

In the summer of 2006, the band embarked on the Electric Summer Jam Tour without guitarist Tommy Skeoch. Skeoch had left the band indefinitely to spend time with his family, and, as he later revealed on “The Classic Metal Show,” other reasons; particularly his problems with substance abuse. Scott Johnson of the Sacramento band Rogue filled in for a time on this tour. Eventually Dave Rude replaced Skeoch permanently.

“Cumin’ Atcha Live” appeared in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

TESLA recorded a two-volume collection of cover songs titled Real to Reel, which was released on June 5, 2007. The recording is available as a 2-CD set. The first CD (containing 13 songs) is sold in a case with a blank slot for the second CD. The second CD (containing 12 additional songs) will initially be available to concert goers in the USA at no additional charge beyond the cost of a ticket. The second CD was also given away with the August edition of Classic Rock magazine in Europe.

At the end of August TESLA announced their first world tour in 16 years with dates in Australia, Japan, and Europe in October and November 2007.

In February 2008, TESLA helped fund and headlined a benefit concert for victims of the Station nightclub fire. The show was broadcast by VH1 Classic. TESLA played three songs: “What You Give”, “Signs”, and “Love Song”, though “What You Give” did not make it onto the broadcast.

In June and July 2008, TESLA played a few shows in Europe and the USA, including Sweden Rock Festival, Graspop Metal Meeting and Rocklahoma.

On July 15, 2008 “TESLA – Comin’ Atcha Live! 2008” was released from a live concert filmed February 22nd, 2008 at a sold out Myth Nightclub in Maplewood, Minnesota. The 2 hour show included hits “Modern Day Cowboy”, “Love Song” and “Song and Emotion” along with additional backstage footage.

On August 11, 2008, it was reported that TESLA’s next album, entitled Forever More, would be released on October 7 on their own record label, TESLA Electric Company Recordings. The album was produced by Terry Thomas, who produced Bust a Nut. The band aired the album’s first single, “I Wanna Live” on radio stations across the globe on August 18 and kicked off a world tour on October 1. Forever More debuted No. 33 on The Billboard 200 chart and spawned singles I Wanna Live, Fallin’ Apart & Breakin’ Free.

In 2009, TESLA was announced to be among the performers on the cruise ship “ShipRocked” in November 2009.

In 2010, Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon appeared on That Metal Show and announced that they were working on material for a new album, though their studio burned to the ground on September 30, 2010.

On May 10, 2011, the band played at a rally for the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association. TESLA performed two songs, “Signs” and “Love Song” during the Kings #HereWeRally at Cesar Chavez Park in Sacramento, California to celebrate the team staying in Sacramento for at least one more year.

On July 12, 2011 they released a mostly acoustic album titled Twisted Wires and the Acoustic Sessions.

In June 2013, TESLA released a new single “Taste My Pain” on iTunes. They released their new album Simplicity on June 6, 2014.

Tours

Current members

  • Frank Hannon – acoustic & electric guitar, bass, mandolin, blues harp, keyboards, piano, organ, backing vocals (1981–1996, 2000–present)
  • Brian Wheat – bass, keyboards, piano, vocals (1981–1996, 2000–present)
  • Jeff Keith – lead vocals (1984–1996, 2000–present)
  • Troy Luccketta – drums, percussion, gong (1984–1996, 2000–present)
  • Dave Rude – guitar, bass, vocals (2006–present)

Former members

  • Steve Clausman – (1981)
  • Bobby Contreras – drums (1981)
  • Colleen Lloy – guitar, lead vocals (Joined band with Brook Bright as City Kidd in 1981–1983)
  • Brook Bright – guitar, vocals (Formed band as City Kidd in early 1980s) (1981–1983)
  • Jeff Harper – lead vocals (original lead vocalist for Earthshaker and City Kidd thru April 1983)
  • Joey Murrieta – guitar (before the breakout of Tesla) (1983)
  • Curtis Chapman – guitar (before the breakout of Tesla, when they were still called City Kidd) (1983–1984)
  • Tommy Skeoch – guitar, backing vocals (1984–1994, 1995, 2000–2006)
  • Tommy Armstrong-Leavitt – guitar, backing vocals (summer 2013, fill-in for Dave Rude)