Formed in 1967, signed in 1971, and fronted by iconic vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon is a band where the main constant over the decades is a never-ending desire to give their all to their fans, year in and year out.
Formed loosely in the late ‘60s at college in Champaign, IL, REO (named after the precursor to the light truck) rode to gigs in station wagons, hopping from small gigs to even tinier gigs, just to get their name out. It worked, as fans quickly realized there was much more going on here than your average college party band.
By the early ‘70s, the band’s unrelenting drive, as well as non-stop touring and recording, jump-started the burgeoning rock movement in the Midwest. It carved a path that was eventually followed by STYX, Kansas, Cheap Trick and more. Platinum albums and freeform FM radio staples such as “Ridin’ The Storm Out” followed, setting the stage for 1980’s explosive Hi Infidelity. REO rode the top of the charts with a RIAA-certified 22 million albums sold in the U.S. and 40 million around the globe, with a string of gold and platinum records and international hit singles.
Even now, fully established with songs on the radio in every city and town they ever set foot in, REO Speedwagon still has that Midwest work ethic. The band has gone on stage and in the studio to work– dozens of albums, thousands of concerts, and countless radio spins. Their eyes have always been on the future and on the road – not a year has gone by where REO Speedwagon didn’t perform live, thrilling fans with hit filled sets.
The band’s younger fans might not realize the sheer impact REO has had on music and the culture of rock ‘n’ roll. Hi Infidelity’s millions in sales were fueled by massive hit singles such as “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On the Run.” Thirty–plus years later, the nine-times certified platinum Hi Infidelity still remains a high-water mark for rock bands; the album spent 15 weeks in the #1 slot, a feat simply unattainable in music today.
At the center of REO’s desire to keep it rocking for the fans is Kevin Cronin, who looks like he’s found the fountain of youth--along with the secret to penning some of the biggest hits in rock. With bandmates Bruce Hall on bass, keyboardist Neal Doughty, Dave Amato on lead guitar and drummer Bryan Hitt, REO has remained busy since the band celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007.
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