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posted: 8/12/2012 5:00 AM

New exhibit shows Rick Nielsen's favorite picks

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  • Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen has donated guitars and memorabilia for a new exhibit "Rick's Picks: A Lifelong Affair with Guitars and Music" at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

      Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen has donated guitars and memorabilia for a new exhibit "Rick's Picks: A Lifelong Affair with Guitars and Music" at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

  • Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen plays his famous Hamer five-neck guitar, which is on display as part of a new exhibit at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

      Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen plays his famous Hamer five-neck guitar, which is on display as part of a new exhibit at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

 
By Danealle Khaimskiy
dkhaimskiy@dailyherald.com

Rick Nielsen is back in Rockford and that's no Cheap Trick.

To help raise funds for the Burpee Museum of Natural History, a childhood hangout for the lead guitarist of the rock band Cheap Trick, Nielsen has lent his guitars and other collectibles for a new exhibit: "Rick's Picks: A Lifelong Affair with Guitars and Music."

"Rick is still a presence in Rockford, so they came straight to Rick with the idea," said spokeswoman Anne Boccignone.

Open through April 10, the 5,900-square-foot exhibit shows the life of Nielsen and his touring days with Cheap Trick. Everything from Nielsen's famous 1993 Hamer five-neck guitar to scraps of papers covered in song lyrics are on display in a room straight out of the 1980s with its checkerboard floors and Cheap Trick music.

"The hardest part was excavating all of the stuff," Boccignone said. "I don't think (Nielsen) has ever thrown anything away in 40 years of touring."

Taking a little more than eight months to create, Burpee has managed to fit in the majority of Nielsen's collection.

As visitors enter the exhibition, they walk through a corridor covered in Cheap Trick lyrics. Passing through motion detectors triggers a welcome Nielsen recorded.

Once inside "Rick's Picks," visitors are free to roam around and look at some of the very first Cheap Trick T-shirts and the history behind them and Nielsen's memorable checkerboard fashion. There's also a documentary that can be viewed.

"The documentary is my favorite (part) because there's so many unexpected comments in it," Boccignone said.

One is from Dave Grohl of the band Foo Fighters, who said when his band was compared to Cheap Trick he felt like he had made it to the big time.

The film is shown in a 14-person theater inside the exhibit. Listening stations allow visitors to hear original recordings by the band.

There is also a gift shop part of the exhibit that includes everything from memorabilia replicas to posters.

Boccignone said the exhibit connects to any music lover and is reminiscent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

"('Rick's Picks') will be well worth your trip," Boccignone said.

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