After 30-plus years of touring with one of America's best-known rock bands, bass guitarist and songwriter Bruce Hall of REO Speedwagon still speaks with feeling about the magic and power of making rock 'n' roll music.
"To tell you the truth, I still find it amazing," Hall said in a phone interview with the Herald.
REO Speedwagon, Styx, Ted Nugent and his band will team up to bring their Midwest Rock-N-Roll Express tour to Grand Forks at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Tickets range are $27 to $101.
The 2012 Midwest Rock-N-Roll Express was recognized as one of the 10 hottest summer package tours of last year by Rolling Stone magazine. This years tour will kick off Thursday in Grand Forks, moving to the Minneapolis Target Center on Friday night and continuing through May in cities across the country.
REO Speedwagon, Styx and Nugent all hit their stride in the 1970s during what was a golden age for rock bands, with groups such as Steeley Dan, Head East, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey, Foreigner, Kansas, KISS, Three Dog Night and many more making hits and dominating rock culture.
Hall, who grew up in Champaign, Ill., joined REO Speedwagon as its bass guitarist in 1977, making an appearance on the album, "You Can Tune a Piano but You Can't Tuna Fish," and replacing the original bassist, Gregg Philbin. He was 23 at the time.
Many a rocker from that era has spoken of or written a book about those drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll days, when being a rock star was like being a kid in a candy store where anything was possible and/or available.
"We were all young then and we were touring around the country," Hall said. "We were indestructible. A lot of that comes from the mind set of a young man. There's not too much you feel you can't do. How do I say it? We explored the avenues that were available to us." Then, he laughed and continued: "But you quickly learn those don't help at all. It takes the joy away from life. It makes the music not good."
By the time he and his band mates were heading into their 30s, he said, they were "trying to straighten up and get our heads on straight."
Formed in the late 1960s at college in Champaign and fronted by vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon had platinum albums and hits like "Ridin' the Storm Out" followed by the 1980s "Hi Infidelity." The band's current line-up, in addition to Hall and Cronin, includes keyboardist Neal Doughty, Dave Amato on lead guitar and drummer Bryan Hitt.
Hall has written and sung lead on a few of the band's songs, including "Back on the Road Again," and talks about songwriting in terms of coming up with an idea, staying true to the idea and then molding it like clay before it's recorded.
"It becomes a part of people's lives," Hall said. "That amazes you, when people are singing the words back to you. It's a powerful, magical force."
REO Speedwagon has been working with Styx and Nugent for years.
"We love those guys," he said. "Those guys are like our brothers." Of Nugent he said: "Ted is a unique individual. He doesn't try to be anything he's not. He's a 'turn it up to 10 and play rock 'n roll' kind of guy."
Styx, a Chicago band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s, made great use of hard rock guitar, strong ballads and elements of musical theater. Its hits included "Lady" and "Too Much Time on My Hands." Its members are James "JY" Young, Tommy Shaw, Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, Ricky Phillips and Chuck Panozzo.
Nugent, known as the Motor City Madman, initially gained fame as the lead guitarist of The Amboy Dukes before beginning his solo career, and in the 1970s recorded the hit "Cat Scratch Fever," among others. Today, he's also known for his support of conservative politics, his advocacy of hunting and gun ownership and his quote before the 2012 election at an NRA event: "If Barack Obama becomes president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
Nugent will open the concert Thursday, followed by REO Speedwagon and then Styx, according to the tour website. Tickets are available through the Ralph Engelstad box office and all Ticketmaster locations, including charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000. Click here to view article
On April 18th, REO Speedwagon will hit the road with Styx and Ted Nugent for the 2nd annual Midwest Rock-N-Roll Express tour. This is a great evening of classic rock by three of the best live bands in the business.
REO Speedwagon, who is co-headlining the shows with Styx, are excited to be hitting the road. The band built their reputation as a great live act in the 1970's and they still receive standing ovations every time they take the stage.
In the interview that follows, founding member and keyboardist Neal Doughty takes us on a trip through time, beginning with the current tour and going all the way back to when he and drummer Alan Gratzer were the only two hippies in the engineer department in college.
Neal tells it like it is and details REO's colorful history in detail, from the formation of the band, through the dark times and into the glory days.
This is an interview full of great stories including everything from food fights to, to band fights to full frontal nudity.
Click here to read full article.
Out of Nowhere: Champaign Music Scene Documentary DVD by Bob Zimmerman
A documentary film about the Champaign-Urbana music scene, from the sixties through the oughts. Features exclusive, on-camera interviews with REO Speedwagon
Click here to purchase Out of Nowhere: Champaign Music Scene Documentary DVD by Bob Zimmerman
REO Speedwagon will be the featured guest on the nationally syndicated radio show ROCKLINE with host Bob Coburn Wednesday April 10, 2013 at 8:30pm PDT / 11:30pm EDT. Fans are encouraged to call to speak with REO Speedwagon toll free at 1-800-344-ROCK (7625). For a station near you and for information regarding how to log onto the Internet for the broadcast go to www.RocklineRadio.com The show will be streamed on the Rockline website for two weeks beginning the afternoon after the live broadcast.
High-Definition Concert Contains the Hits "Keep On Loving You," "Can't Fight This Feeling," "Take It On the Run" and Many More
Los Angeles, CA - Feb. 26, 2013 - Palladia and REO Speedwagon are proud to announce the television debut of the band's hit-filled performance from the country's premier classic rock festival, Moondance Jam. Palladia, Viacom's high-definition music channel, will debut REO Speedwagon's "Live at Moondance Jam" on Saturday, March 2 at 6:00 pm PST/9:00 pm EST. The channel will air the program six additional times, including March 2 at midnight, March 3 at 3:30 pm, March 5 at 10:30 pm, March 6 at 12:30 pm, March 10 at 4:30 am and March 13 at 1:30am (all times EST). Following the run on Palladia, VH1 Classic will premiere the concert on Friday, March 22 at 9 pm EST.
Formed in 1967, signed in 1971, and fronted by iconic vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon has rocked to the top of the charts with a RIAA-certified 22 million albums sold in the U.S., 40 million around the globe, and a string of gold and platinum records. The group's nine-times certified platinum Hi Infidelity spent 15 weeks in the #1 slot. Thirty plus years later, Cronin and bandmates Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (lead guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums) keep thrilling concerts audiences with fan favorites such as "Keep On Loving You," "Can't Fight This Feeling," and "Take It On the Run." In addition to featuring those three smash hits, "Live at Moondance Jam" recorded at the Walker, Minnesota festival in the summer of 2010 features "Don't Let Him Go," "Keep Pushin'," "Golden Country," "Like You Do," "Time For Me To Fly," "Back On The Road Again,” and "Roll With The Changes."
"Live at Moondance Jam," the first high-definition REO Speedwagon concert, is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray here. In addition to 13 songs, including all the aforementioned tracks, the package features an exclusive interview with Kevin Cronin.
After seeing REO Speedwagon on TV, fans can go out and see them live this spring. Last year's "Midwest Rock 'n Roll Express" tour was recognized by Rolling Stone as one of the "Ten Hottest Summer Package Tours of 2012." It was such a success that rock's finest from the heartland "REO Speedwagon, Styx and Ted Nugent"are teaming up again for another round of shows. The tour starts on April 18 in Grand Forks, ND and will hit more than 20 cities before wrapping in Burgettstown, PA a month later. REO will then continue with headlining tour dates and festival shows throughout the summer.
Palladia, Viacom Media Networks' high-definition music channel, launched in January 2006 and features original music-based programming for a variety of music genres, including hip hop, rock, country, pop, contemporary, classic rock, alternative rock, soul and more, as well as HDTV acquisitions and original content from Viacom Music Group's MTV, VH1, and CMT family of services. The channel has grown to 30 million households and is available on major U.S. carriers including Comcast, Cox, Verizon FiOS, Time Warner, Dish, DIRECTV, Charter, AT&T u-Verse, Cablevision and Insight.
About VH1 Classic
VH1 Classic brings you the best metal, rock, soul and pop from the '70s, '80s and '90s. The channel features the gods of rock from Black Sabbath, Metallica and Iron Maiden to Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam and Dire Straits in marquee concerts and music specials, and of course, tons of classic music videos. Recent big events include National Metal Day (11.11.11) and Metal Evolution, an 11-part documentary series on the history of metal. Because when it comes down to it all music should go to 11.