That they are still roaring and soaring should be no surprise. That’s just how they are built. TESLA may have been born in the mid 80s eruption of leather, spandex and big hair, but this band has never about those things. Hardly. Their bluesy, soulful sound is strongly embedded in the roots of organic, authentic 1970s rock and roll. The same roots that produced bands like the Allman Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Aerosmith.
The ground started shaking up in Sacramento, CA, in 1984; gold country that would soon be producing some platinum. They started out as City Kidd, until someone suggested they change their name in honor of eccentric inventor Nikola TESLA, who pioneered all things electrical – and who, like any revolutionary rock and roll band, made magic working with the basic forces of nature.
A blizzard of industry showcase gigs and TESLA quickly scored a deal with Geffen. Their 1986 debut album, Mechanical Resonance, would eventually go platinum, nestled comfortably in the Top 40, and produced the iconic hard rock hits, “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Little Suzi.” Today, Mechanical Resonance lives on as one of the most successful and acclaimed debuts of the era.
But it was the follow up that truly pushed things over the edge and started to solidify the legacy of the band.
1989’s The Great Radio Controversy brought in many new legions of fans, thanks to a potent one- two sonic punch. The first single, “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” scored huge with hard rock audiences, while the poignant ballad, “Love Song,” provided a softer counterpoint. This helped push the album into the Top 20 and double-platinum sales figures. All of a sudden, TESLA, who cut their teeth opening some of the biggest tours of the 80s from Def Leppard to David Lee Roth, had earned full headlining status, and the brakes were off.
In 1990 TESLA helped reshape the face of modern hard rock music by stripping down to the Five Man Acoustical Jam, a loose, informal collection of their biggest hits peppered with rock and roll classics by the Beatles, Stones and others. Not only did the format reveal just how sturdy and rocksolid the band’s catalog was, it also inspired every major band after them to perform similaracoustic, storytelling shows, going back to the basics. TESLA’s daring experiment also produced their biggest hit single, a cover of the Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs.”