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Music / REO Speedwagon

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The group in 2010. From L-R, Bryan Hitt, Bruce Hall, Kevin Cronin, Dave Amato and Neil Doughty
I'm going to keep on loving you
'Cause it's the only thing I wanna do...
— "Keep on Loving You"

REO Speedwagon is an American Arena Rock band formed in 1967 in Champaign, Illinois. It grew in popularity in the Midwestern United States during the 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s.

Initially playing in a style that blended hard rock guitars and drums with frontman Kevin Cronin's high, piercing tenor voice and Neal Doughty's softer keyboard touches, the band recorded several moderately successful albums before breaking out, as many rock bands did at the time, with a live album (You Get What You Play For). They subsequently became one of the foremost Arena Rock bands, achieving great success in the early 1980s. Their popularity waned by the end of the decade, when the rock scene became dominated with Hair Metal groups, but they've stayed together in some shape or form and still play today.

REO Speedwagon hits include "Keep on Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling". Both songs are power ballads. "Keep on Loving You" is one of the first power ballads, and it appears on the group's most commercially successful album, Hi Infidelity. This album also included several other hits, including "Take It on the Run," a song that peaked at number 5 on the U.S. charts.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Dave Amato – guitar, backing vocals (1989–present)
  • Mike Blair – bass, backing vocals (1967–68)
  • Kevin Cronin – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards (1972–73, 1976–present)
  • Carla Day – backing vocals (1989)
  • Bob Crownover – lead guitar (1968–69)
  • Neal Doughty – keyboards (1967–present)
  • Bill Fiorio – lead guitar (1969)
  • Alan Gratzer – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1967–88)
  • Bruce Hall – bass, backing and lead vocals (1977–present)
  • Jesse Harms – keyboards (1989–91)
  • Bryan Hitt – drums, percussion (1989–present)
  • Melanie Jackson – backing vocals (1989)
  • Miles Joseph – lead guitar (1989, died 2012)
  • Graham Lear – drums (1988–89)
  • Terry Luttrell – lead vocals (1968–72)
  • Joe Matt – guitar, lead vocals (1967–68)
  • Joe McCabe – saxophone (1968)
  • Mike Murphy – lead vocals (1973–76)
  • Gregg Philbin – bass, backing vocals (1968–77)
  • Gary Richrath – guitar (1970–89, died 2015)
  • Steve Scorfina – lead guitar (1969–70)
  • Marty Shepard – trumpet (1968)

Other Members

  • Derek Hilland note  – keyboards, backing vocals (2023–present)

I can't fight this troping anymore:

  • Break-Up Song: "Take It on the Run" is sung to a Love Interest who is rumored to be cheating on him and refusing to defend herself.
    • The incredibly catchy "Out of Season" is about a man who ignores the warning signs of a failing relationship and is hit hard when his partner leaves abruptly:
      Just when I thought I couldn't get any higher
      You cut me down to size
      I should have noticed
      When you put out the fire
      Instead, I just closed my eyes
    • "Time For Me To Fly" actually has a positive take on this trope, portraying the singer as someone in an one sided relationship, and makes it seem like he's having a burden lifted by breaking up.
  • Fanservice: The cover of Hi Infidelity (1980).
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 2; the line-up of Alan Gratzer, Neal Doughty, Gary Richrath, Bruce Hall, and Kevin Cronin lasted from 1977–88. The current line-up has also been stable since 1991.
  • Power Ballad: Responsible for two of the best; "Keep On Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling".
  • Precision F-Strike: In the song "Tough Guys" from Hi Infidelity (1980), we have this:
    They think they're full of fire
    She thinks they're full of shit
  • Punny Name:
    • One of the backing vocalists in Hi Infidelity (1980) is credited as "N Yoletta" (actually the band members performing as an alias), which is the pun on the title of one of the songs, "In Your Letter".
    • For that matter, Hi Infidelity itself, using infidelity as a play on "HiFi", or "high fidelity", a term referring to high-quality reproduction of audio.
    • See also: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish. Wait... What?
  • Pygmalion Plot: "Keep on Loving You"'s music video has Kevin Cronin telling a psychiatrist that he fell in love with a made-up woman who's the subject of one of his songs.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band went through a lot of lineup changes before 1991, with only one member, Neal Doughty (organ/keyboard) staying constant.
  • Rock Star Song: "Rock 'N' Roll Star".
    We hit the road
    And the road hit back
  • Undying Loyalty: In "Keep on Loving You", the singer declares his loyalty to his beloved and his determination to preserve their romance even when he knows she's betrayed him.
  • Vocal Tag Team: It happened often in the 1970s, with lead guitarist Gary Richrath singing chunks of each album, notably R.E.O. (1976). In later albums, one song would be sung by bassist Bruce Hall.