Tesla is the name of an American Hard rock band originating in Sacramento, California. The band formed in 1984 on Guam as City Kidd and was renamed Tesla during the recording of their first album on the advice of their manager. The band derived their name, certain album and song titles, and some song content from events relating to Nikola Tesla, a Serbian inventor and electrical engineer born in the 19th century.
Vocalist Jeff Keith fronted a band that included guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta.
Tesla’s music was akin to glam metal, but was bluesier and the band’s lyrics strayed from the partying and women themes popular at the time. But what set them even farther apart from their contemporaries was their T-shirt-and-jeans image which was in strong contrast to other bands of the time, which were characterized by leather pants and flashy-make up. Tesla is also proud of the fact that their music has always been just guitars and drums, with an occasional piano from bassist Wheat, with no synthesizers or anything to distort their sound and their albums always proudly proclaimed, “No Machines”, referring to that fact. However, the band’s 2004 album, Bust a Nut, included synthesized beats.
Tesla’s remake of Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs” (1990) is the best-known of Tesla’s hits, which also includes “Comin’ Atcha Live,” “Gettin’ Better,” “Modern Day Cowboy,” the Ph.D. cover “Little Suzi,” “Edison’s Medicine,” and “Love Song.” To this day, “Love Song” is probably the most remembered of the band’s songs, and still receives much airplay on rock stations.
After Bust a Nut, the band took a brief hiatus, to support Skeoch during his rehab from drug abuse. Skeoch and Keith resurfaced with a band called Bar 7 and the single “Four Leaf Clover”. They only recorded the one album, The World is a Freak.
The band reformed in 2000 and recorded a double live album. In 2002 they were featured in the Rock Never Stops Tour alongside other 80’s rock bands. In 2004 they released their fifth studio album, Into the Now, which debuted on the Billboard album chart at Number 30. The album was well received by fans and the band was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
In the summer of 2006, the band embarked on the Electric Summer Jam Tour and put the following statement on their web site: “We would like you to join us in welcoming guitarist Dave Rude, who will be hitting the road with us for the 2006 Electric Summer Jam Tour as Tommy Skeoch will not be performing with us. Please also join us in congratulating Tommy and his wife on the birth of their new baby boy. We wish the whole family the best.”
An article in Mojave Desert News that featured an interview with Wheat clarified the situation: “The tour is also a chance to introduce the newest member of the band, guitarist Dave Rude, who replaces Tommy Skeoch, who has been in and out of the band since 1994, addressing substance-abuse problems. But with a new baby at home, Wheat said that this time Skeoch’s departure is full-time and for other reasons. “He just wanted to spend more time with his family after all these years,” Wheat said. “It’s hard. He’ll always be a part of Tesla history.”
Comin’ Atcha Live appeared in the 2002 videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, playing on Rock station V-Rock.
Tesla has recorded a covers album titled Reel to Reel, which is due for release in June 2007.