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UNITED STATES, California, Sacramento

Date Formed 1984

Categories: Hard Rock

TESLA

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

An earthy Hard Rock act named rather intriguingly after the rival to Edison, inventor Nikolai Tesla, a man reputed to have invented machines and scientific processes that to this day remain top secret. Of the many discoveries attributed to Tesla are fluorescent lighting and radio. The band had started life named CITY KID in 1982 founded by bassist Brian Wheat and guitarist Frank Hannon pulling in ex-ERIC MARTIN BAND drummer Troy Luccketta, vocalist Jeff Keith and second guitarist Tommy Skeoch later. Initial live work included support dates to Y&T, DOKKEN, RAIL and EDDIE MONEY. The band's demo was produced by none other than RONNIE MONTROSE. As the band matured major record company interest was high although the band were caught for a time between their then management team's desire for lightweight hit single material and A&R interest preaching a more natural gutsier approach.

Elektra Records, courtesy of A&R supremo Tom Zutaut, the man who signed MÖTLEY CRÜE, eventually won the day and, whilst still called CITY KID, Zutaut signed them to Geffen Records in 1985 after he had made a switch of labels. At this juncture the much respected Q Prime management organization, responsible for DEF LEPPARD and METALLICA, also took over the business reins.

'Mechanical Resonance', named after one of Tesla's more outlandish theories, provided the opening gambit and it's strong blend of Blues based mid seventies era radio friendly classic hard rock proved an instant hit with mainstream radio. The band kicked off their promotion with the valuable support slot to DAVID LEE ROTH's 1986 American tour.

Limited edition promotion version of 'Mechanical Resonance' was issued to several journalists and radio disc jockey's in appreciation of their help in pushing TESLA, the tracks on the album being pressed on six 12" singles (two songs on each slab of vinyl) and packaged in an attractive presentation box. The worldwide impression made by the debut was quite outstanding. Duly the album reached the American top 50 and by 1987 had been granted a global release. The subsequent 'The Great Radio Controversy' album pushed the band to new heights, the album peaking at number 18 in America and spawning a top ten ballad in 'Love Song'.

TESLA broke completely new ground in 1990 by releasing an acoustical live set. Such was its impact that it sparked a whole host of major name artists acoustic efforts. Their 2nd July concert at the Trocadero in Philadelphia was recorded initially for the band's own benefit but such was the reaction to the band's impromptu acoustic gigs an official release was granted. Besides re-works of TESLA material 'Five Man Acoustical Jam' included renditions of the GRATEFUL DEAD's 'Truckin', THE BEATLES' 'We Can Work It Out', CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL's 'Lodi', the ROLLING STONES' 'Mother's Little Helper' and even FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND's 1971 hippie anthem 'Signs', the latter giving the group another major radio hit.

TESLA toured relentlessly promoting 'Psychotic Supper' clocking up over 130 shows in America alone. Despite being contractually obligated to record two more albums for Geffen, the label allowed TESLA to be let out of their contract and the group went their separate ways. By this juncture TESLA had sold over 14 million albums. Brian Wheat concentrated on a solo project titled SOULMOTOR with ex-UFO guitarist Tommy McClendon. At first Skeoch created UTERIS with former HEATHEN guitarist Ira Black, later of VICIOUS RUMOURS. Jeff Keith, however, began a new career as a club disc jockey although would form the modestly titled JEFF KEITH BAND pulling in Skeoch and Ray Hinckley on guitars and ex-FLAME rhythm section of bassist Steve 'Vegas' Smith and drummer Dennis Bostock. This outfit evolved into SOFA KING and then to BAR 7.

Whilst Troy Luccketta would return with ONE THIN DIME, Frank Hannon assembled MOON DOG MANE with vocalist Brodie Stewart, guitarist Kevin Hampton, keyboard player Chris Martinez, bassist Joel Kruger (a former associate of LYNYRD SKYNYRD) and drummer Cortney Dagustine.

By mid 2000 a TESLA reunion had been announced as on the cards as BAR 7 issued the album 'The World Is A Freak' backed with a support tour to L.A. GUNS. Hannon also found time to work with former LION guitarist DOUG ALDRICH on a music soundtrack to the Japanese TV show 'Mikazuki'. Meantime Luccketta rounded out the new year by appearing as drummer for a one off live band assembled to back DAVID COVERDALE for a radio gig in Los Angeles.

TESLA's much anticipated full band member reunion would finally occur on 25th October of 2000 with a homecoming gig at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. Three more Californian gigs would arrive in December. TESLA's resurrection would be solidified the following year with string of successful live shows running through from February right up until October.

A fresh deal with Sanctuary Records would yield the September 2001 'Replugged Live' opus. Continually in demand the reformed band set out on the road once again in kicking off in San Francisco on the 11th of October. As plans were announced for the recording of a fresh studio album in 2002 it would also be learned that TESLA were slated to top a summer tour of America also comprising of SKID ROW, VINCE NEIL and JACKYL. Wheat offered up a further SOULMOTOR album in April of 2002, Troy Luccketta aiding his band mate on drums.

Maintaining their deal with the Sanctuary label TESLA set 'Into The Now' as the title of a March 2004 album release. The record entered the Billboard charts at a highly respectable no. 31, shifting over 30,000 copies in its first week of release, maintaining momentum with a further 10,000 copies sold in the following week. Upfront of this guitarist Frank Hannon set to work on an album by his side band KALEIDOSCOPE.

A lengthy series of US Summer dates was broken when the band performed in the home of Paul and Julianne Clem of Sacramento. The pair had won the intimate show by lodging a $5,000 bid on local radio, proceeds of which went to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. In July guitarist Tommy Skeoch addressed his addiction problems by dropping out from the tour to undergo medical treatment. The band persevered, drafting Scott Johnson as stand in. In October of 2004 the band, rejoined by Tommy Skeoch, hooked up with the Hard Rock alliance of KEITH EMERSON and the SCORPIONS for US tour dates.

On 31st December Hannon's side act, the FRANK HANNON BAND, made a special New Year's Eve edition four song EP for sale at their Sacramento Roadhouse gig. The CD comprised three mixes of songs from the band's 2005 album 'Guitarz From Marz' and a holiday "psychedelic" version of the New Year's Eve traditional anthem 'Aude Lang Zyne'.

Acoustic dates in 2004 would commemorate the 15th anniversary of their seminal 'Five Man Acoustical Jam' record. Making these concerts even more special would be radio sponsored competition prizes allowing fans to sit on stage with the band throughout the performance and, for one lucky winner, the chance to jam with the band. June dates in the US saw support to DEF LEPPARD.

In 2006 Tom Zutaut, TESLA's original A&R man, signed on as band manager as the group projected a box set release plus revealed plans to cut an album of cover versions. Summer shows saw Dave Rude from the FRANK HANNON BAND temporarily substituting for Tommy Skeoch. In August Jeff Keith announced he had been recording tracks for a solo Country & Western album.

A stripped down acoustic version of 'Signs' was contributed to the 'VH1 Metal Mania Stripped Volume 3' compilation album issued through Sidewinder Music in March 2007. That June TESLA issued a double disc covers collection entitled 'Real To Reel'. Featured tracks included renditions of AEROSMITH 'Seasons Of Wither', ALICE COOPER 'Is It My Body', BACHMANN TURNER OVERDRIVE 'Not Fragile', BAD COMPANY 'Shooting Star', BLACK SABBATH 'War Pigs', DEREK AND THE DOMINOES 'Bell Bottom Blues', JAMES GANG 'Walk Away', LED ZEPPELIN 'Thank You', LYNYRD SKYNYRD 'Saturday Night Special', MONTROSE 'Make It Last', PETER FRAMPTON 'Do You (Feel Like We Do)', ROBIN TROWER 'Day Of The Eagle', SLY & THE FAMILY STONE 'I Want To Take You Higher', TEMPTATIONS 'Ball Of Confusion', THE BEATLES 'I've Got A Feeling', ROLLING STONES 'Honky Tonk Woman' and 'Street Fighting Man', THIN LIZZY 'Bad Reputation', TRAFFIC 'Dear Mr. Fantasy', UFO 'Rock Bottom', URIAH HEEP 'Stealin' and ZZ TOP 'Beer Drinkers, Hell Raisers'.

TESLA's DVD, 'Comin' Atcha Live! 2008', filmed in Seattle, was released on 15th July. Geffen Records issued the 'Gold' compilation on 26th August. TESLA renewed association with producer Terry Thomas, who had previously worked on the 1994 'Bust A Nut' album, for the October 2008 album 'Forever More' issued in the USA via custom imprint Tesla Electric Company Recordings. A tour to promote this outing kicked off in Salt Lake City on 1st October. European variants of the album, released by Italian imprint Frontiers Records, hosted two bonus tracks in 'My Way' and a live version of 'What A Shame'.

Taking a diversion from the regular touring circuit, the band was included alongside performers such as BROKEN TEETH, ENDEVERAFTER, LYNAM, QUEENSRŸCHE, SKID ROW, STEREOSIDE, STONERIDER and RATT for the 'ShipRocked' event, described an "unparalleled five-day rock and roll music cruise". Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 15th November 2009, ShipRocked aboard the Poesia cruise ship sailed to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Grand Cayman, before returning on 20th November. 

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