Tesla were formed in Sacramento, CA, in 1985, out of an earlier, locally popular group called City Kidd, which dated back to 1982. The band wrote original music and knew their name didn’t fit the sound. At management's suggestion, the band named itself after the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla, who pioneered the radio but was given only belated credit for doing so.
After playing several showcases in Los Angeles, Tesla quickly scored a deal with Geffen and released their debut album, “Mechanical Resonance”, in 1986; it produced the hard rock hits and crowd favorite, "Modern Day Cowboy" and "Little Suzi". “Mechanical Resonance” reached the Top 40 on the album charts, and eventually went platinum.
It was the follow-up, 1989's, which truly broke the band. The first single, "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)" was a hit with hard rock audiences, setting the stage for the second single, a comforting ballad called "Love Song" which substituted a dash of hippie utopianism for the usual power ballad histrionics.
"Love Song" hit the pop Top Ten and made the band stars, pushing “The Great Radio Controversy” into the Top 20 and double-platinum sales figures; the follow-up single, "The Way It Is" was also a hit.
In keeping with their unpretentious, blue-collar roots, Tesla responded to stardom not by the glam theatrics of their tour mates and peers of the era, but by stripping things down. The idea behind 1990's, “Five Man Acoustical Jam” was virtually unheard of -- a pop-metal band playing loose, informal acoustic versions of their best-known songs in concert, plus a few favorite covers.
Tesla's music was sturdy enough to hold up when its roots were exposed, and one of the covers, "Signs" became another Top Ten hit, as well as the band's highest-charting single. Not only did “Five Man Acoustical Jam” reach the Top 20 and go Platinum, it helped directly inspire MTV's "Unplugged" series, both with its relaxed vibe and its reminder that acoustic music could sound vital and energetic. This album is credited for starting the whole “Unplugged” craze of the ‘90s which included artist like Eric Clapton, Nirvana, and many others following suit with acoustic live albums.
The studio follow-up to “The Great Radio Controversy”, “Psychotic Supper”, was released in 1991 and quickly became another platinum hit and spun off the greatest number of singles of any Tesla album: "Edison's Medicine", "Call It What You Want", "Song and Emotion" and the classic hit, “What You Give” which was another one of Tesla’s ballad singles that reached Top 20 radio airplay.
Their 1994 follow-up, “Bust a Nut”, sold over 800,000 copies, and battling the "Seattle Invasion" in 1994, was a testament to the loyal fan base Tesla had managed to cultivate over the years. The single, “Mama’s Fool” was well received, however at this point the band was suffering internal problems and decided to dis-band for the next five years.
Returning with their first studio album of all original music, Tesla wrote and recorded the album “Into the Now”, and for the first time, self produced the album along with audio engineer Michael Rosen (Testament, AFI, Santana). Released in March, 2004, “Into The Now” was an autobiographical testament of a band from a previous decade plunging forward into a new era of music, and producing a sound that could compete with modern music of the day. The album successfully showed that the band could evolve sonically with aggressive songs like “Heaven 911” and the title track “Into the Now” and “Caught in a Dream” which received massive radio airplay as well.
During this time, management and label changes were made, bringing us to the independent era of today’s Tesla.
In 2008, the band released its new studio album, “Forever More”, an all-new collection of songs including, "I Wanna Live", “Breakin’ Free”, "Fallin' Apart" and the title track “Forever More”. The release reunited the band with producer Terry Thomas, who helmed 1994's, “Bust a Nut”.
In 2014 it’s time for “Simplicity”, Tesla’s seventh all original studio album: helped by the legendary Tom Zutaut (who was the man behind the best band albums), this new album rocks from start to finish, showing a variety of emotions where each song has its own twist--not sounding like another.
In 2016 the band released one live recording of their classic album, “Mechanical Resonance Live!”, celebrating the original multi-platinum record’s 30th birthday in style.