REO Speedwagon (originally styled as R.E.O. Speedwagon) is an American rock band from Champaign, Illinois. Formed in 1967, the band cultivated a following during the 1970s and achieved significant commercial success throughout the 1980s. Hi Infidelity (1980) contained four US Top 40 hits and is the group’s best-selling album, with over ten million copies sold.
They grew in popularity in the Midwestern United States during the early 1970s and peaked in popularity in the early 1980s. The band’s first mid 70s FM hit was the Richrath composed concert fave “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, and their first gold record was a live album, 1977’s “Live: You Get What You Play For”. Their hard rocking live show was so integral to their success, their label released another live album in 1978, “More Live”.
In 1977, Philbin was replaced with Bruce Hall to record the first studio album that reached platinum, “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish”, released in 1978 which received FM radio airplay but fell short of the Top 40. In 1979, the band took a turn back to hard rock with the release of Nine Lives.
By 1981’s “Hi Infidelity” they had reached a new peak, and the LP spawned several major radio hits including “Keep On Loving You”, “Don’t Let Him Go” and “Take It on the Run” which went to #5 on the US charts, and the Cronin composed “Time For Me To Fly, released on the “Tuna” album.
REO Speedwagon followed up the “Hi Infidelity” LP with the power ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling” from Good Trouble in 1982, and dented the charts again with 1984’s “Wheels Are Turning” album, 1987’s “Life as We Know It” was the last new release to go gold, before popularity waned, and their long winning streak subsided. Founding members Richrath & Gratzer left the band, essentially ending a 20 year arena rocking run, but the band’s collections continued to sell and earn classic rock & retro power pop airplay. Richrath and Gratzer was replaced by Miles Joseph and Graham Lear, Cronin’s band members from jazz ensemble called “The Strolling Dudes”. And soon Lear and Joseph was replaced by Bryan Hitt (formerly of Wang Chung) and Dave Amato.
Nowadays Reo Speedwagon remains a U.S concert circuit staple, mostly known as a crowd pleasing classic AOR genre rock band. Still fronted by longtime vocalist Cronin, currently the only original member in the 21st century touring lineup is keyboardist Neil Doughty. The hired guns brought in since have had stints in band’s like Ted Nugent and Wang Chung. Spurred on by numerous re-packagings of their back catalog, and successful newer live recordings, in 2007 they released “Find Your Own Way Home” the group’s first new studio album in more than ten years. Though it did not chart as an album, it produced two singles which appeared on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary radio chart.