Let’s return to a simpler time, when “Tesla” had other associations beyond a madcap billionaire’s plans (or the inventor who lent his name, sorry Nikola.) Did you know that Tesla is also a band?
A fitting tribute
Way back in the ‘80s, a couple of Sacramento kids named Brian Wheat and Frank Hannon decided to form a band. The bassist and guitarist called themselves City Kidd, and began catching gigs in their hometown, says
Tesla the Band.
City Kidd added a few more members, including vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarist Tommy Skeoch, and drummer Troy Luccketta, and together they worked on a debut album. In 1986 “Mechanical Resonance” was released to the public, under new management: City Kidd was now Tesla.
The name choice was no accident. Like the car company that would eventually eclipse the band vis-à-vis crossword clues, Tesla wanted to pay tribute to a Croatian genius. And they were serious about it. A debut album called “Mechanical Resonance” was the first hint that nerdery was afoot among these long-haired rockers—mechanical resonance is an engineering concept.
And Tesla the band didn’t just reference the late inventor’s genre and call it quits. An entire song on their 1991 album “Psychotic Supper” is devoted to the battle between electricity forefathers Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, enchantingly titled “Edison’s Medicine.”
The music video is a dizzying amalgam of guitar smashing and shirtless gyrating, backgrounded by black-and-white photographs of Edison and Tesla. It’s an electricity history lesson packaged as hard rock, and you just know that the members of AC/DC are kicking themselves.
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A fan favorite
Tesla wound up putting out eight studio albums, and they’ve been on tour with the likes of Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth, and Cheap Trick. Less well known than many metal bands, but famous enough to pay the rent and then some, they are textbook cult favorites. And like their automaking counterpart, they’re Northern Californians at heart.
Even though Musk’s Tesla is often top-of-mind these days, let’s not forget about Tesla the Band. The power ballads of these ‘80s boys are just as moving now as they were then. And if you own a Model 3 you can have your cake and eat it, too: try blasting “Mechanical Resonance” on your next drive and let us know if you feel Nikola Tesla smiling down upon you.
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