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Rock musician to Lincoln students: ‘This is where it starts’

Before Bun E. Carlos was the drummer for rock band Cheap Trick, recording platinum records and touring the world, he was Brad Carlson, a middle schooler at Lincoln Middle School from 1963-1966.

Carlos spoke with Lincoln sixth, seventh and eighth graders in band, orchestra and glee choir today about what it takes to have a music career. Some students had heard of Cheap Trick – the band that made it big in the ‘70s and ‘80s with songs like “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police” and “The Flame.” The band also did the theme for “The Colbert Report” and “That 70’s Show.” Carlos has endorsement deals and records with other groups on the side.

“All this stuff is really cool,” Carlos said. “But back in 1963, I was one of you guys. … This is where it starts, right here.”

Musician Bun E. Carlos signs autographs for Lincoln Middle School students on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 after speaking with band, orchestra and glee chorus students. Students asked Carlos to sign paper, year books, student IDs and sweatshirts. Carlos was a Lincoln student from 1963-66.

Musician Bun E. Carlos signs autographs for Lincoln Middle School students on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 after speaking with band, orchestra and glee chorus students. Students asked Carlos to sign paper, year books, student IDs and sweatshirts. Carlos was a Lincoln student from 1963-66.

Principal Jason Grey introduced Carlos to the students to reward them for their hard work so far this school year. Band and orchestra participation has grown as RPS continues to support the arts and foster music programs. Carlos received Lincoln’s Capstone Award in 2010, an award given to distinguished alumni.

Wednesday, he told students about teamwork: Playing in a band of any size is like being part of a team. When he signed up for band, they didn’t need any drummers. So he played the French horn. Practicing his parts on the French horn alone at home didn’t sound like much – it sounded almost silly, he told the students. But when the group played together, they sounded like a band. That’s teamwork, he said. It’s the same with small bands, large bands and, yes, rock bands.

But before 4,000 screaming fans met him and his Cheap Trick band mates in Japan, before they were “rock stars,” and before he had a review in Rolling Stone magazine, he was a student at Lincoln Middle School.

“If I do it, there’s no reason why one of you guys can’t do it, too,” Carlos said.

Cathy Bayer is a communications specialist for the Rockford Public Schools. She joined the school district in March 2013 after working more than four years at the Register Star.

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