October 8, 1978. While surf-rock quartet The Ventures might have pioneered the “big in Japan” concept, it was Cheap Trick who perfected it.
You see, it was on October 8, 1978 that Cheap Trick released at Budokan…in Japan. This makes sense, as the album was recorded over two nights at the Nippon Budokan in Toyko in April of 1978. But a Japan-only release? It’s intriguing. Why wasn’t the album released stateside?
The short answer: because Cheap Trick were more popular in Japan than they were in the United States. The band’s self-titled debut, their follow-up In Color, and Heaven Tonight were slow to catch on in America. But when the band toured Japan in 1978, they were met by throngs of screaming fans. So they did what any enterprising young rock band would do: they cut a live album for those throngs of screaming fans to buy up by the thousands.
at Budokan was eventually released in the U.S. in 1979 and has gone on to become Cheap Trick’s biggest-seller worldwide. But it’s fun to remember that it was in another part of the world–not here at home–that the band was first embraced with such passion.