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. Although their debut climbed all the way to number 32 on the Billboard charts, their second album, 1989's The Great Radio Controversy, was an even greater success, scoring a Top Ten hit with the ballad "Love Song." Their follow-up album, Five Man Acoustical Jam, showed that the band didn't need overdriven amplifiers in order to play; it also showed that they had a fondness for sentimental hippie oldies, as their hit version of "Signs" proved. The record also turned out to be their biggest hit, reaching number 12 on the charts. While its follow-up, Psychotic Supper, wasn't as commercially successful, it captured Tesla branching into new musical territories; it proved that the band hadn't lost its creative spark.
Psychotic Supper didn't produce any singles quite as successful as "Love Song" or "Signs," but it did spin off the greatest number of singles of any Tesla album "Edison's Medicine," "Call It What You Want," "What You Give," "Song and Emotion." Perhaps that was partly because Tesla's workmanlike hard rock didn't sound ridiculous if it was played on rock radio alongside the new crop of Seattle bands. But regardless, the winds of change were blowing, and by the time Tesla returned with their 1994 follow-up Bust a Nut, those winds had blown pretty much any new blue-collar hard rock off the airwaves. Bust a Nut did sell over 800,000 copies an extremely respectable showing, given the musical climate of 1994, and a testament to the fan base Tesla had managed to cultivate over the years. But all was not well within the band.
Tommy Skeoch had been battling an addiction to tranquilizers and his problems worsened to the point where he was asked to leave the band in 1995. Tesla attempted to continue as a quartet for a time, but the chemistry had been irreparably altered, and they broke up in 1996. Most of the bandmembers began playing with smaller outfits, none of which moved beyond a local level. When Skeoch's health improved, the band staged a small-scale reunion in 2000, which quickly became full-fledged. In the fall of 2001, the group released a two-disc live album, Replugged Live, which documented their reunion tour. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide