REO Speedwagon

  • Rock & roll band formed in 1967, based in Champaign IL.  Neal Doughty (keyboards) is the only founding member still with the band. Alan Gratzer (drums) left in 1988 – his replacement, Bryan Hitt, plays with the band today. The band has had 6 lead guitarists over the years. Gary Richrath handled lead guitar during their most popular period in the 70s and 80s. He was replaced by Dave Armato in 1989, who continues to play with the band today. Lead vocals since 1976 have been handled by Kevin Cronin, who also plays guitar. Bruce Hall has been the bass guitarist and vocalist since 1977.
  • The name REO Speedwagon comes from the flatbed truck – the REO Speed Wagon, with ‘REO’ the initials for Ransom E. Olds, the founder of the company that made the truck.
  • The band released 6 albums from 1971 to 1976, with modest success. They began to gain momentum with their 1978 album You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish, followed by Nine Lives the following year. Their breakout album was their ninth studio album, Hi Infidelity, released in 1980. This album was a move toward pop-rock, and it has sold over 10 million records. The hit singles from this album were Keep On Loving You (#1), Take It On The Run (#5), In Your Letter (#20) and Don’t Let Him Go (#24). They released 3 more albums in the 80s, and continued to have hit singles.
  • In total, they produced 16 studio albums, 10 live albums, and 34 singles.
  • Their music was big during the heyday of MTV, and their music videos were prominently shown on the network.
  • They continue tour extensively, playing at arenas, casinos, art centers, and resorts. The late Baby Boomers and the Generation X crowd grew up with REO Speedwagon, and they love to watch them play today.
  • Here’s one of those videos you’d see on MTV back in 1980/1981 – their first #1 hit, Keep On Loving You. It has that classic REO big arena rock sound, with those classic REO harmonies. Very typical sound of 80s rock music.

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