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REO Speedwagon

Three bands were the undisputed arena rock kings of the early '80s -- Styx, Journey, and REO Speedwagon -- yet all weren't overnight success stories (in fact, each group began pursuing different musical styles originally -- prog rock, fusion, and straight-ahead hard rock, respectively, before transforming slowly into chart-topping mainstream rockers). REO Speedwagon first formed in 1968, via a pair of University of Illinois students, keyboardist Neal Doughty and drummer Alan Gratzer. After graduation, the group signed on with then-unknown manager Irving Azoff (who would later guide the careers of such multi-platinum acts as the Eagles and Steely Dan), which led to the outfit building a devoted following in the Midwest due to nonstop touring. By the early '70s, Doughty and Gratzer had welcomed aboard guitarist Gary Richrath, who would soon prove to be the group's spark plug (and one of rock's more underrated players), in addition to bassist Gregg Philbin and singer Terry Luttrell. It was this lineup to be featured on the quintet's 1971 self-titled debut recording for Epic Records.

The debut failed to break REO through to the mainstream, as the band's future was thrust into uncertainty shortly thereafter, when Luttrell left the band. Newcomer Kevin Cronin got the gig, he was a folksinger/guitarist beforehand, with little to no experience fronting a loud rock & roll outfit. The Cronin-led lineup appeared to be headed in the right direction though, judging from 1972's R.E.O. T.W.O., but the other members grew impatient with their slow progress toward a commercial breakthrough, and gave Cronin his walking papers. Up next as REO's frontman was Mike Murphy, whose debut with the band, 1974's Ridin' the Storm Out, was their first album to chart on Billboard and spawned a concert standard with the rocking title track. Murphy stayed onboard for a couple of more releases -- 1974's Lost in a Dream and 1975's This Time We Mean It -- but neither managed to push REO to the next level.

Once more, a frontman change was required, and instead of searching for a fresh new face, REO welcomed back Cronin. The move paid off almost immediately, as REO found their niche by streamlining their sound and focusing on melodic rockers aimed at radio, as well as power ballads aimed at teenage girls' hearts. Released in 1976, R.E.O. signaled the beginning of the veteran group's winning streak, as both 1977's Live: You Get What You Play For and 1978's You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish were REO's first to earn gold and platinum certification. Another live album, Live Again, was also issued in 1978, followed up a year later by another gold-certified hit, Nine Lives. Although REO was slowly inching their way to big-time success, no one (not even the band) could have predicted the massive hit that their next album turned out to be, Hi Infidelity. Issued at the tail end of 1980, it became one of 1981's biggest albums -- spawning one of the best-known power ballads of all time, "Keep on Loving You," as well as such popular rock radio hits as "Don't Let Him Go" and "Take It on the Run." Hi Infidelity would eventually go on to sell more than nine million copies -- catapulting REO to arena-headlining status.

REO Speedwagon continued to score further hit albums (1982's Good Trouble, 1984's Wheels Are Turnin') and singles ("Keep the Fire Burnin'," the number one hit power ballad "Can't Fight This Feeling," etc.), but the hits dried up shortly thereafter. Issued in 1987, Life as We Know It managed to go gold, but their fans' sudden disinterest coupled with turmoil between certain bandmembers led to the exit of both Richrath and Gratzer by the end of the decade. REO opted to soldier on, however, with replacement members Dave Amato (ex-Ted Nugent, guitar) and Bryan Hitt (ex-Wang Chung, drums) in tow, as their 14-track 1988 compilation The Hits proved to be a steady seller over the years. Further underappreciated studio releases followed, such as 1990's The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken and 1996's Building the Bridge. With interest at an all-time low, REO was set to pack it up for good, until a sudden wave of renewed interest in classic rock bands of yesteryear began to sweep the U.S. during the late '90s, resulting in REO launching successful co-headlining tours alongside such acts as Styx, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Bad Company, among others.

The '90s saw the emergence of countless REO compilations, including such titles as The Second Decade of Rock n' Roll: 1981 to 1991, Only the Strong Survive, The Ballads, and a specially priced three-disc set of Live: You Get What You Play For, You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish, and Hi Infidelity. Additionally, further in-concert releases cropped up -- Live: Plus, Extended Versions, and a 2001 live set, Arch Allies: Live at Riverport, split 50/50 between REO and touring mates Styx. In a 2001 episode of VH1's Behind the Music series that focused on REO Speedwagon, Cronin and Richrath cleared up any misconceptions of ill will existing between either camp and voiced approval of a possible reunion in the future. When REO returned to the studio later in the 2000s, however, it was without Richrath. Find Your Own Way Home, the band's first studio album of new songs in more than ten years, featured Cronin along with founding member Neal Doughty on keyboards, longtime bassist Bruce Hall, and '80s additions Amato and Hitt. This lineup also released an unabashed record of Christmas songs in 2009, titled Not So Silent Night. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Don't read this cause it actually works, you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life! However if you do not post this to at least 3 song's you will die in 2 day's! Now that you've started reading this, don't stop! This is so scary, put it on at least five song's in at least 143 minutes, when done press F6 and your lover's name wil appear on your screen in big letter's, this is so scary cuz it actually works!
Love all there albums
Love REO
⛵️
I love this song. I first heard of REO preseason when my dad took me to one of his concerts. Been in love ever since<3
The great 80s
good times in the 80,s
i777v126
Hmm...
Not Another Teen Movie , lol
; )
..I sure can't..
stuckeys1
Great Live album You Get What You Play For! Launched REO on to their future success.
Nothing but memories.. when I had my first puppy love. And into high school. When I thought there was no wrong in the world.. rock on!!
llcilis26
Love this song!!! It made me miss him even more .....
..<3.<3.<3.. :')
Awesome awesome song!!!!! : )
Seen REO over 15 times. They ever disappoint. Always a great time with my friends and their wives. Ed---Indy
Would you let me?
All I wanted was to see my old band all the ones I performed with them at some point I have no bad feelings for any one. Awesome singers! Fun times
Don't read this because it actually works.You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life.Tomorro w will be the best day of your life.However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days.Now you've started reading it so dont stop.This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes.When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters.This is so scary because it actually works
They still sound awesome after all these years! One of the greatest rock bands ever.
katiesos
It does remind me of Supernatural . Also best tv show ever
Can't Fight This Feeling makes me think of Supernatural . Love the song, love the band, and especially love Supernatural
I agree about wishing I could turn back time. This song brings back so many great memories. I love it! I love REO.
One of my favorite albums by them
mcmulinj9
Keep On Loving You was played at my wedding!!!
My growing up era, nothing like the 80's......
pzambrano0
And I meant every word when I said that I loved you, I love you 4ever!
pzambrano0
This song reminds me of high school and my club soccer team.
Remembering the days........ . . . . . . . . . G r e a t times to these tunes
Great singers but I ain't heard this song but it sound like a pretty good song:)!!
'80's.....be s t time ever
azkegan1
Mall Cop ftw! xD.
Great concert in Spfld with Ted and Styx!!
jchapman2006
Still, to this day, they keep on rollin' and rockin' concerts.
The best.
wish I could turn back time
One of my favorites. Timeless music
Yolanda i have been wating for u from milton 818-482-6374
rfloryz23
Crank High Voltage :)
Umm another thing u guYs should try the station 60s 70s and 80s its also good
I can't fight this feeling I have now
��
Great song
Josh u wish u could sing like this
Love it <3
80's were great ! Good times for sure!!
Man I wish I was alive in the 80s. This band , Journey, and Boston are the best bands ever.
The worst. Song ever
Way before my time but I still love them!!
Reminds me of child hood.. the days you barely remember but the music stays with you forever.. amazing.. ;)
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