One of rock's most colorful and wacky characters is Cheap Trick's guitarist and main songwriter, Rick Nielsen. With his zany stage outfits not usually associated with rock & roll (a sweater, bow tie, baseball hat, etc.) and an unending army of guitars -- his most famous one being a mammoth five-neck instrument, Nielsen is a true original. Born on December 22, 1946, in Rockford, IL, Nielsen became hooked on rock & roll via the British Invasion (Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks), taking up the guitar shortly thereafter. One of his early bands, Fuse, secured a record deal in the late '60s, issuing a single album for Epic in 1969, before splitting up. But Nielsen wasn't going to give up on his rock & roll dreams so easy, as he and Fuse's former bassist, Tom Peterson, formed another band, Sick Man of Europe, and traveled the same continent they were now named after. When their quest of Europe didn't end in a record deal like they hoped, the duo returned to Illinois and looked to start up another band, while Nielsen became fixated on such power pop outfits as the Move, the Raspberries, and Badfinger, which would be the musical direction of their next project: Cheap Trick. Drummer Bun E. Carlos was enlisted soon after, as was a singer named Xeno, the latter replaced by Robin Zander by 1974.