Happy Birthday to Tom Peterson – born May 9, 1950 | Tom Peterson

UNITED STATES - MAY 01: Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Jon Brant ( Cheap Trick) (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Thomas John Peterson better known as Tom Petersson, is an American musician who is best known for being the bass guitar player for the rock band Cheap Trick.


Before joining Cheap Trick in November 1973, Petersson played in a number of bands, including the Bol Weevils, the Grim Reapers, Fuse and Sick Man of Europe. He started out playing rhythm guitar, but soon switched to bass. His professional career has been closely entwined with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen since the Grim Reapers in 1967.

Petersson was part of the Cheap Trick line-up that released their classic albums – the self-titled 1977 debut Cheap Trick, In Color, Heaven Tonight, Cheap Trick at Budokan, Dream Police and All Shook Up. With the band, Petersson toured incessantly from their early club days through to arena headlining shows. During this period, Petersson’s 12 string bass guitar was developed in collaboration with Hamer Guitars. Rick Nielsen notes at every show that Tom is “the inventor of the 12-string bass”.

During 1980, Petersson became disillusioned with life within Cheap Trick, in part due to the unrelenting recording and touring schedule, and because of limited creative opportunities. During the summer of 1980, he worked with then-wife Dagmar on material for a solo album, and it was announced that Petersson had left Cheap Trick on 25 Aug 1980 before the release of the band’s “All Shook Up” album. The 5 track LP Tom Peterson and Another Language was eventually released in 1984. During 1982, Petersson played shows in New York and Japan as a member of “Carmine Appice and Friends”. In 1985, together with his replacement in Cheap Trick, Pete Comita, he resurrected the “Sick Man of Europe” name for a short-lived live band which played several shows at CBGB’s and the Cat Club in New York through to 1987. This band also featured Hall & Oates co-writer Janna Allen as lead singer, rhythm guitarist and co-songwriter (she also co-wrote some songs with Petersson and Robin Zander for Cheap Trick’s Lap of Luxury and Busted albums).

In the fall of 1987, Petersson returned to Cheap Trick for the recording of the band’s Lap of Luxury album which yielded their 1988 US #1 single The Flame. Since then, Petersson and the band have continued to release albums and tour worldwide.

Petersson has co-writing credits on almost every Cheap Trick album that he has played on, from 1977 through to the present day.

Personal life

Tom is married to wife Alison, and they have two children, son Liam and daughter Lilah. During 2014, Tom and Alison founded “Rock Your Speech” to promote awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and in using music to help children overcome speech difficulties associated with autism. The website includes a regular blog written by Alison, about the trials and tribulations of being the parent of a child on the spectrum.

Other work

Outside of Cheap Trick, Petersson has worked with artists such as Donovan, Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Harry Nilsson (unused tracks for the “Every Man Has a Woman” album), Bill Lloyd, Frank Black, Concrete Blonde, Foster and Lloyd, Edan Everly, Coinship and members of The Mavericks.


Petersson is a serious guitar collector, owning a wide variety of guitars and basses. He prominently used a vintage Gibson Thunderbird bass as his main stage instrument for many years, until a girlfriend threw it out of a hotel window during an argument. He replaced the bass with a new one, as well as his girlfriend. Professionally he has endorsed a number of different bass brands during his career, including Hamer, Chandler, Waterstone, Electrical Guitar Company, Hofner, and Mike Lull. He currently plays Gretsch basses, including a unique White Falcon 12-string bass, which Petersson has said he hopes will become a production model.

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