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Reo Speedwagon

Two University of Illinois students, Neal Doughty (keyboardist) and Alan Gratzer (drummer), paired up in 1968 to form REO Speedwagon and upon graduation signed with a relatively unknown manager, Irving Azoff. Azoff would later become famous for steering the careers of some high profile rockers including Steely Dan and the Eagles. Thanks to Azoff, REO was able to build a Midwest following through an extensive touring schedule. By 1971 the band had expanded to include guitarist Gary Richrath, bassist Gregg Philbin and singer Terry Luttrell and recorded their self-titled debut for Epic Records. While the debut wasn't a breakthrough success, their follow-up in '72 featuring new lead singer Kevin Cronin showed promise. Impatient with the slow progress of the band to break through, Cronin was replaced with Mike Murphy and finally enjoyed some commercial success with the 1974 release of Ridin' the Storm Out. By the third release with Murphy as frontman, the band decided it was time for another change. This time they agreed to bring Cronin back and found a formula for success by focusing on the melodic rock sound that Cronin was so at home with and the power ballads that resonated with adolescent girls. The result was another turning point for the band with their first gold and platinum certified albums in You Get What You Play For and You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish. If there was anyone left who hadn't heard of REO, by 1981 they couldn't avoid hearing the band thanks to their massive success with the late 1980 release of Hi Infidelity. Producing one of the biggest power ballads ever in "Keep on Loving You," and providing ample album tracks for rock radio with "Don't Let Him Go" and "Take It on the Run," Hi Infidelity eventually sold more than nine million copies and made REO an arena rocker. They continued to be mainstays on the charts throughout the first half of the next decade. 2007 finds the line-up consisting of Kevin Cronin (lead vocals, guitar), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (lead guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums) ready to roll full throttle into the new millennium with their first studio album in over a decade and an extensive US tour.

Written by: Paul Webber

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