Category: Behind the Scenes, New Music, News, StudioTag:

As Pittsburgh Power Pop act Radio 45 prepares to release a re-imagination of a song written by Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, we look back on the Clarion University concert forty years ago that helped chart a life path for three of Radio 45’s four band members — and would come to define this band’s Power Pop sound…

40 Years Ago

In the Fall of 1983 Cheap Trick appeared in concert at Clarion University of Pennsylvania (CUP) located in northwestern Pennsylvania. In attendance were three members of the Pittsburgh rock act Radio 45.

Still in school themselves, Gary Bickerstaff, C. Scott Gilbert and Mark Wesesky saw Cheap Trick up-close in the school’s gymnasium with about 1,500 other people — mostly students.

Cheap Trick charged the University $12,500 for their appearance — which isn’t bad for 75 minutes worth of work — even in 1983. They also requested and were served meals for the band and 10 crew members.

Cheap Trick‘s contract with CUP was very specific: Stage requirements called for an area of 60′ by 40′ by 5′ high. The University could only provide an area of 40′ by 32′ by 4’ high — but it worked. And standing about 100 feet in front of that stage were Bickerstaff and Gilbert. Of all of Radio 45‘s band members, Cheap Trick seems to have had the most profound effect on front-man Bickerstaff.

“I would not be a musician today were it not for Cheap Trick.”

— Gary Bickerstaff

“My best friend in High School went to visit a cousin in California and returned with an 8-track tape of Cheap Trick’s “Heaven Tonight” album.“ Bickerstaff shared. ”I was familiar with the Live at Budokan hits from the radio — but hearing that full album changed my life.“

“Pop melodies with rock guitars (what I would later learn is called Power Pop) sent me on a journey that would define my life in music. I would not be a musician today were it not for Cheap Trick.”

Bickerstaff continued, “I once heard that Cheap Trick was John Lennon’s favorite band. Other than The Beatles, they are mine.  Oh, and that guy is still my best friend…”

After the show Gilbert hung out by the band’s tour bus an had the opportunity to talk with the band’s bass player, Jon Brant, who stepped into the position of bass player after sex symbol Tom Petersson left the group in 1981 (only to return in 1989). Gilbert hung out by a lot of tour buses and talked to a lot of bass players back in those days.

“A bass player myself, I asked their bass player (Brant) how did you get this gig? …with this band???” Gilbert asked wide-eyed and semi-star-struck, “Did you play scales everyday and practice like crazy?!?!” to which Brant replied:

“No, I partied every night and chased women…”

Not exactly sound advice for a young, impressionable musician. But it was 1983, and the whole “drugs, sex and rock and roll” vibe from the 1960’s was still a close memory for many.

“That made me respect Gene Simmons (KISS) even more”, Gilbert continued, “as at least that guy Rock and Rolled All Night and saved the partying for daytime…”

Appolodorus: The local Clarion, PA record store where Bickerstaff, Gilbert and Wesesky bought their music in the 1980’s. Mostly Wesesky, who has since amassed an impressive vinyl collection.

Wesesky was there to see Cheap Trick as well, although he was wearing a Blue Oyster Cult hat that night. Wesesky is a huge Cheap Trick fan. “Back in ’79 one of my best friends cranked up Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan album on his brother’s stereo, and I got the album that weekend!” said Wesesky.

In addition to mastering the drum chops of Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, Wesesky actually looks like Bun E. Carlos in person.

Wesesky was there too, although he was wearing a Blue Oyster Cult hat that night…

“One day I hope that someone’s looking to start a Cheap Trick tribute band and needs a drummer.” Wesesky continued, “I’m just gonna show up, and when they see me lookin like Bun, they’ll just say ‘We don’t care how good you are on the drums! You’re it!’”

Cheap Trick, and other rock bands from that era, shaped the musical direction of all four members of Radio 45, even though Radio 45‘s Aaron Greer was too young to catch that concert at Clarion University. In 1983 Greer was in 1st grade at Harrison Park Elementary School in Harrison City, PA.

In 1983 Greer was in 1st grade at Harrison Park Elementary School in Harrison City, PA.

While the youngest member of Radio 45, Greer is an 80’s music powerhouse guitar player — and often pays homage to Eddy Van Halen’s signature guitar solo Eruption at Radio 45 shows. But when the band considered re-working this classic Cheap Trick tune, Greer had not yet had the opportunity to go deep with Cheap Trick — just yet.

“I didn’t know this song (I Can’t Take It) until about two months ago, but I love it, and I’m starting to really dig Cheap Trick too.” said Greer. “They’re definitely more than I Want You To Want Me and Surrender…”

New Music from Radio 45

As Cheap Trick fans themselves (old and new) Radio 45 is excited about their re-imagination of the Cheap Trick single “I Can’t Take It”. The song was originally released in 1983 as the second single from their seventh studio album Next Position Please. It was written by Robin Zander and produced by Todd Rundgren. It failed to chart.

Radio 45 has been opening their shows with their shiny new version of “I Can’t Take It” — and it makes an immediate statement with audiences.

Come see for yourself. Radio 45 is appearing at Pittsburgh’s Hard Rock Cafe and Jergel’s Rhythm House near Pittsburgh this summer.


Add Radio 45 as a Favorite to Apple Music and be the first to hear new releases.


I Can’t Take It by Radio 45 is available now in traditional music stores and online streaming services. Want own the music? You can buy a digital copy of the song from the Radio 45 record store (direct digital download) which gives the band the largest cut of royalties — for which Gary, Scotto, Aaron and Mark will be most grateful. Robin Zander will be grateful too¹ (not that we can speak for Robin Zander, see footnote below).

Direct Digital Download

Apple Music


Amazon Music


SodaPop Records Limited
a division of SodaPop, LLC.

Robin Zander

C. Scott Gilbert


Gary Bickerstaff:
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals

Aaron Greer:
Electric Guitars, Shimmer Guitars

Mark Wesesky:
Drums, Percussive Strategy

C. Scott Gilbert: 
Bass Guitars, Bass Pedals, Analog Synthesizer, Ensemble Strings, Piano, AI Drums

C. Scott Gilbert, Chip Dominick, Bill Hubauer

Mr. Amos White
SodaPop Records Limited

¹Radio 45 takes special care to make sure songwriters get their proper royalties. We license every song we record — even the songs we don’t release — to help make sure direct download and streaming royalties can be properly tracked and paid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *