Trillion

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For every American progressive rock band that found increasing success on commercial radio during the second half of the '70s -- Journey, Styx, Kansas, etc. -- there were additional dozens possessing…
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For every American progressive rock band that found increasing success on commercial radio during the second half of the '70s -- Journey, Styx, Kansas, etc. -- there were additional dozens possessing the same sonic recipe for infectious bombast but which, for some reason or other, just never made the grade, including Trillion. Inspired by the incredible success of Boston's era-defining debut album, Chicago-based musicians Pat Leonard (keyboards) and Bill Wilkins (drums) decided to condense their indulgent progressive rock tendencies into more concise nuggets of melodic rock (not quite AOR yet), qualified by an equal amount of instrumental prowess and great hooks. Initially calling themselves Whisper, the pair duly recruited Dennis "Fergie" Frederiksen (vocals), Frank Barbalace (guitar), and Ron Anaman (bass/vocals) from some of the local scene's top bands and, after securing a strong management team, scored a deal with Epic Records and immediately set to work on their eponymous first album with producer Gary Lyons, who was fresh off working on Foreigner's debut. Trillion's debut arrived in stores in 1978, but despite the band's good fortune of obtaining key supporting tour slots with Heart, Aerosmith, and cross-town rivals Styx, it shifted only a modest number of units, and already began stressing intra-band relations. First came the controversial decision to dispose of Frederiksen and replace him with one Thom Griffin for Trillion's sophomore Epic LP Clear Approach; then came the departure of bandleader Patrick Leonard, who would go onto enjoy massive success as a major songwriter and producer in the decades to come, most notably in tandem with pop superstar Madonna. The remaining musicians in Trillion continued to perform diligently but without achieving widespread success, except for original singer Frederiksen, who recorded with Toto in the mid-‘80s amid several hit songwriting co-credits for other bands (Survivor, Le Roux).