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Durable '80s rockers Tesla ready to energize fans at park

Posted: July 3, 2014 at 2:02 a.m.

The original members of Tesla (from left) are Troy Luccketta, Brian Wheat, Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon; newest member Dave Rude joined in 2006.

Tesla didn't go down the glam rock, hair-metal path on which many a contemporary group traveled, never to return.

The band, which formed in Sacramento, Calif., in 1986, is still virtually intact, with four out of five of the original members still performing.

Tesla

Opener: The John Calvin Brewer Band

7 p.m. Friday, Magic Springs & Crystal Falls Water and Theme Park, 1701 E. Grand Ave. (U.S. 70 East), Hot Springs

Admission (including lawn seating): $54.99 the day of the concert, $49.99 online, $33.99 for children shorter than 48 inches and adults 55 and older, free for children 3 and younger. (Season passes are $74.99.) Limited reserved seating is available for an additional $5 or $10. Parking is extra.

(501) 624-0100

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"We're beating the odds of most marriages," says lead guitarist/pianist Frank Hannon. "It only takes one bad apple to spoil the pie, and luckily, we've only had to make one change, so we've basically had a pretty harmonious lineup."

Hannon actually had formed a band in late 1982 with bassist Brian Wheat, which for five years they called City Kidd, until they found out another band had the same name.

So they changed it to Tesla. Lead singer Jeff Keith and drummer Troy Luccketta joined Wheat and Hannon in 1984; rhythm guitarist Dave Rude, the new guy, came along in 2006.

The band's first album, Mechanical Resonance, which came out in 1986, led to opening act gigs for David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Poison and Def Leppard before Tesla became a headliner in its own right. The band scored its first hit single, "Love Song," off its second album, The Great Radio Controversy, in 1989.

After selling 14 million albums, the members took an extended break, which, Hannon explains, let them all explore solo work and other occupations.

"When we were split up, I even worked for a tree service to make ends meet, feeding the wood into the chipper," he adds.

But despite selling all those albums, "We didn't see any of that money," he notes, "but starting about 20 years ago, a whole different era began. Now it's all 'do it yourself,' and that's what we do. We do our own graphics and T-shirts and everything. We've had great success and also great failure, extreme highs and extreme lows."

A new album, Simplicity, came out June 10, the band's first studio album since 2008's Forever More.

"The new one takes its name from a song that reflects back on how we miss such simple things as vinyl albums and family values," Hannon explains.

Hannon knows that to some prospective listeners and fans, the band's name suggests an expensive electric automobile rather than a rock band. But, he notes, nobody has asked them to take any of those cars out on the road or do a commercial for the company.

"That of course would be a nice gig to get, either of those," Hannon says with a laugh, "but so far our phones have not been ringing. But anyway, both the car and us, we're both borrowing the name from the inventor of that name." (Early 20th-century visionary Nikola Tesla was a pioneer in the development of alternating current electrical systems, the electric motor and radio transmission.)

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The John Calvin Brewer Band, a Hot Springs group, will open the show at 7 p.m. Friday; a fireworks show will follow Tesla's performance.

There will also be a 3 p.m. preconcert party at park's Hideaway area. The $20 admission price includes entertainment by Hot Springs show band Midnite Parade, appetizers from Trejo's, two drinks, early entry into the concert amphitheater and a chance to win a "meet-and-greet" with Tesla.

Weekend on 07/03/2014

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