For over four decades and through various lineup overhauls, REO Speedwagon continues to roll with the changes.
Like fellow '70s Midwest musical compatriots Styx, Cheap Trick, Grand Funk and Bob Seger, from ratty clubs to 20,000 seat venues they developed their following through years of exhaustive touring. A new DVD, Live at Moondance Jam (available in our Store on CD/DVD or Blu-ray), demonstrates that the band has lost none of its power or energy as consummate stage performers.
Rock Cellar Magazine spoke with REO frontman Kevin Cronin for a look back on over 40 years of musical magic.
Rock Cellar Magazine: REO has gone through many lineup changes over the years. What makes the band such a commanding musical force onstage?
Kevin Cronin:I think we just love what we do and it shows. There have been a number of different members of the band over the years but I think that's something that all of us have...a devotion to playing live. REO Speedwagon was always a live band. Our records didn't really start catching on until the late '70s and the band had been playing live for almost ten years at that point. That's kind of the way we make a name for ourselves. We weren't one of these bands that burst onto the scene with a biog hit record, we just grinded.
We played a couple of hundred shows a year and traveled around the Midwest in a beat up 1972 Chevrolet Impala station wagon and played every little town you could find. We just played live and played live and we loved it. We met a lot of great people and we had a lot of fun and that's where our music evolved from playing live shows. And we still have that same feeling today. We love to play live. That's our thing. We give people a little break from their every day life. People are going through tough times and people have got a lot of responsibilities with their job and their family.
Rock Cellar Magazine: REO Speedwagon released a string of really good albums in the '70s but none took hold until much later.
Kevin Cronin: I think the band was searching for an identity. On the first three REO albums there was a different singer on each of them so I think the name REO Speedwagon was kind of synonymous with Gary's guitar playing, Neal's piano playing and Alan's drumming. But as far as the real signature of a band, to most people it's the lead singer and the voice kept changing. So I think the band was trying to find the right singer.
Terry Luttrell sang on the first record, I sang on the second record and Mike Murphy came in and sang on a couple of records. I think when I came back to the band there was a little bit more of a mutual respect between the band members and myself. When I was out of the band I played as a solo artist and I gained a lot of confidence and my writing started to get a little stronger. I think the band looked at the R.E.O./T.W.O. record and went, "Wow, there was something special about that album."
To this day when we tour we play at least two or three songs off of that record. So that R.E.O./T.W.O. album as kind off special. Right around our first live album in 1977 (Live: You Get What You Play For) where I got to sing all of the songs that Murph or Terry and sung and it all brought it into focus.
Now there was one voice and that was the voice of REO Speedwagon. I'm fortunate that it record that way for me because I love the band.
The whole vibe of high energy and never giving up and believing in yourself, those real positive All-American sentiments, is what the name REO Speedwagon has always stood for. Our music has reflected that with songs like Ridin' the Storm Out, Roll with the Changes, Keep Pushin, they’re all songs that people need to hear especially in times like these.
It's tough out there and you come to an REO show and we sing about those basic American values. Hopefully people can leave that show and wake up the next morning and feel a little renewed or a little revitalized and get back in there and do what you gotta do.
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Unfortunately, due to inclement weather and unsafe roads on the way to Tennessee, REO had been forced to postpone tomorrow's show Saturday December 7th, in Greeneville, TN. The good news is we are rescheduling the show for June 8, 2014 at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, Greenville TN. Your purchased tickets will be honored on that date. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but safety is our number one priority! click here to visit the venue website.
RICHARD MARX, SURVIVOR, HEAD EAST, BRUSHVILLE AND BRUCE HALL'S GOOD FRIEND, LARRY THE CABLE GUY, ADDED TO LINEUP OF ROCK TO THE RESCUE EXTENDS A HAND TO THOSE IN NEED
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FUNDRAISING CONCERT - FEATURING STYX AND REO SPEEDWAGON - TO BE HELD AT U.S. CELLULAR COLISEUM IN BLOOMINGTON, IL ON DEC. 4
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TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Los Angeles, CA & Bloomington, IL (November 26, 2013) - REO SPEEDWAGON and STYX are proud to announce the addition of LARRY THE CABLE GUY, RICHARD MARX, SURVIVOR, HEAD EAST and BRUSHVILLE to the performances at Rock To The Rescue Extends A Hand To Those In Need. On Dec. 4, this benefit concert, at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Illinois, will raise funds for central Illinois communities that were affected by the recent devastating tornadoes and winds. In order to maximize charitable proceeds, the artists, along with numerous vendors, crew and local staff, have generously forgone any personal compensation for the evening.
Tickets for this performance are on sale at ticketmaster.com for $58, $43 and $28 (tickets are subject to applicable service charges and event time and date are subject to change). Visithere for up-to-date information.
Additionally, seats in the first two rows on the floor are currently available via a Ticketmaster auction here). Auction bids begin at $300 for a pair of tickets, with winners also receiving a meet and greet and photo-op with the event's artists.
Rock to the Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to build strong, healthy communities through the support of grassroots organizations across the country. Rock to the Rescue originally started in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and is the brainchild of STYX's Tommy Shaw and REO SPEEDWAGON's Kevin Cronin. The two musicians brought together bands and artists such as Bad Company, Journey, Survivor, Kansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others to be part of "Volunteers For America" concert events in Dallas and Atlanta that ultimately raised over $775,000 for victims of 9/11, as well as the Port Authority police department in New York City. On the bands' last tour together, the Midwest Rock N' Roll Express, Rock to the Rescue not only raised thousands of dollars for local charities at each tour stop, but also raised $108,000 which went directly to the Boston One Fund, helping victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. For more information visit: www.rocktotherescue.net and www.facebook.com/rocktotherescue.
Donations to Rock to the Rescue can be made at www.rocktotherescue.net
'Tis the season for giving thanks so let's start with the participants and supporters of The Great Chicago Fire Hydrants, including our very own Kevin Cronin! Select the link below and vote for your favorite hydrant. A winner will be selected from those who vote, which will be announced Dec 4th. VOTE EVERYDAY THROUGH DECEMBER 3 FOR KEVIN'S HYDRANT!! click here to vote.