Hitting record shops in February 1979, America embraced Rockford’s Fab Four, launching Cheap Trick At Budokan to #4 on the Billboard charts and eventual triple Platinum status—the album would remain a permanent fixture on the U.S. charts for over a year. The band’s first Top 10 smash, “I Want You To Want Me” raced to #7 and “Ain’t That A Shame,” their dynamic cover of Fats Domino’s ’50s classic, peaked at #35.
Budokan’s extraordinary success ushered Cheap Trick into the rarefied status of headliners. “We were a favorite opening act of every band in the world and we were headlining small dates and then Budokan kicked everything into high gear,” notes Carlos. “Suddenly we were headlining arenas.” Nielsen, in particular, was pleased by this upturn in their fortunes: “I really enjoy the big places because I think the impact of that can be as great as playing in a place that holds eighteen hundred people. I really think you can be intimate because we really focus on the audience and we can see people in the last row.” Yet there was one drawback to the record’s unexpected success. “We were doing a month-long tour in Europe with Kansas and Dream Police was in the can,” explains Carlos. “Our label thought the live album would only sell two or three hundred thousand copies in the U.S. and then Dream Police would come out and be a mega hit. Then suddenly the live album took off like crazy and Dream Police sat around for a year until it came out.”
In June 1979, Cheap Trick landed the ultimate plum by gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Further boosting their popularity, they also began appearing regularly on the covers of other major U.S. magazines like Circus, Creem and Hit Parader. Judging by the landslide results in Creem magazine’s 1979 Reader’s Poll, Cheap Trick were now the people’s band, commanding a rapidly growing fanbase. They were voted #1 live act over such perennial arena rock stalwarts as The Who and Led Zeppelin and also scored #1 tour, which found them besting KISS, Van Halen, The Clash and The Kinks among others. At Budokan also garnered major notice, voted #4 album of the year while the live version of “I Want You To Want Me” grabbed #4 honors as single of the year. With two hit albums under their belt, Cheap Trick At Budokan and Dream Police, and a rapid ascent to headliner status, the band were living the rock star dream, clearly luxuriating in their “it” moment.