REO Speedwagon is an American rock band that grew in popularity in the Midwestern United States during the 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s. REO Speedwagon hits include "Keep On Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling". Both songs are power ballads, the former being prototypical of the genre and appearing on the group's most commercially successful album, Hi Infidelity, which also included the hit "Take It on the Run," a song that peaked at number five on the U.S. charts.
Starting out in a used Chevy station wagon, REO played bars all over the Midwest. The band's debut album, REO Speedwagon, was released on Epic Records in 1971. One of the most popular tracks on this record was "157 Riverside Avenue". The title refers to the Westport, Connecticut, address where the band stayed while recording in Leka's studio in nearby Bridgeport, and remains an in-concert favorite.
Although the rest of the band's line-up remained stable, REO Speedwagon switched lead vocalists three times for their first three albums. Luttrell left the band in early 1972, eventually becoming the vocalist for Starcastle. He was replaced by Kevin Cronin. Cronin recorded one album with the band, 1972's R.E.O./T.W.O., but left the band during the recording sessions for 1973's Ridin' The Storm Out because of missed rehearsals and creative disagreements. Ridin' the Storm Out was completed with Michael Bryan Murphy on the microphone. Murphy stayed on for two more albums, Lost in a Dream and This Time We Mean It, before Cronin returned to the fold in January 1976 and recorded R.E.O., which was released that same year.
REO Speedwagon's first live album, Live: You Get What You Play For (1977), was certified platinum. The band was dissatisfied with the producers on their studio albums because of their alleged inability to capture on tape the quality of the band's live show. The live album, which was self-produced, seemed to change that.
In 1977, Philbin was replaced with Bruce Hall to record 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.
The lineup was now set for the band's most popular era. In the fall of 1980, REO Speedwagon released Hi Infidelity, which represented a change in the music from hard rock to more pop-oriented material. Hi Infidelity spawned four hit singles written by Richrath and Cronin, including the #1 "Keep On Loving You", the #5 "Take It on the Run", "In Your Letter" (#20), and "Don't Let Him Go" (#24), and remained on the charts for 65 weeks, 32 of which were spent in the top ten, including three months at number one.
Good Trouble (1982) and Wheels Are Turnin' (1984) were follow-up albums which also did well commercially, the former containing the hit singles "Keep the Fire Burnin'" (U.S. #7) and "Sweet Time" (U.S. #26) and the latter containing the #1 hit single "Can't Fight This Feeling." On July 13, 1985, the band made a stop in Philadelphia (en route to a show in Milwaukee) to play at the US Leg of Live Aid. They performed "Can't Fight this Feeling" and "Roll With The Changes," which featured members of the Beach Boys, the REO Speedwagon band members families, and Paul Shaffer on stage for backing vocals. 1987's Life as We Know It saw a decline in sales, but still managed to provide the band with minor hits.
Wikipedia contributors. REO Speedwagon. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. March 15, 2009, 18:40 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=REO_Speedwagon&oldid=277455108. Accessed March 22, 2009.