The annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is pretty much the one place, outside of a courtroom, where feuding members of rock bands are forced to come together. The policy has led to stunning reunion performances by Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads and the Police, as well as supremely uncomfortable speeches by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Blondie. Next year’s induction ceremony will bring together past and present members of Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago, and at this point nobody knows exactly what will happen. We spoke to former Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos about his plans to reunite with the band that night, and why he left in the first place.
Congrats on the Hall of Fame. It’s definitely time.
Thanks. It was a surprise.
Nobody gets in on the first year, I figured.
You’re going to perform, right?
Yeah. As far as I know.
Why do you say that?
The Hall of Fame is inducting the four original members, and I assume that is who they want to get up there and play.
I spoke to Rick [Nielsen], and he envisioned a scenario where there would be two drummers on Hall of Fame night. How would you feel about that?
[Laughs] Rick has visions, I guess. He’s a good dad and he supports all his sons, and he probably thinks it would be great if his boy was up there playing along. I can see why he would lead the conversation that way.
How would you feel about that?
I had a piece of that in ’76. Rick talked about that with you, but his timeline was way off. I read that and was like, “What the hell is he talking about?” What happened is that in April of 1976, Epic Records was flying out to sign us when I tripped over a light case after a gig and broke my arm. We called the next morning and said, “Don’t go to the airport — Bun E. broke his arm.” They thought Mercury or someone was trying to sign us, so they offered us like $25,000 more on top of the deal. We were like, “No, we aren’t holding out for real money. Bun E. broke his arm. The band ain’t playing.”
We tried a couple drummers, but they couldn’t keep up. So we flew out Hank [Ransome] and I got him a set of drums, though I wound up playing along with one arm in case he pooped out halfway through a song. They saw one of our last shows with Hank, signed us and then Hank went home. It was the last we ever saw of him for about five years. Then about a month later, we signed the deal, the four of us. That was in late July and then we went in September and started tracking the record. So they did see the band with one and a half drummers, but they never signed five guys. It was never double drummers.