R.E.O. Speedwagon


R.E.O. Speedwagon (1967-present): a Hard Rock band from Champaign, Illinois, USA.


ard rock, arena rock, pop rock act R.E.O. Speedwagon, also known as just REO, was formed by four students at the University of Illinois who shared a love for rock music, the center of which would be Neal Doughty in 1966 who was just beginning an electrical engineering program at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, as a junior. On his first night of classes, he met fellow student Alan Gratzer. Doughty had learned some The Beatles songs on his parents' piano, and Gratzer had been a drummer in local bands since high school. The two held an impromptu jam session in the basement of their Illinois Street Residence Hall dormitory.

Originally featuring Neal Doughty (keyboards/organ/piano/synthesizer), Alan Gratzer (drums/percussion/backing vocals), Joe Matt (lead guitar/lead vocals) and Mike Blair (bass guitar/lead vocals) with he first major shake-up in 1968 with Bill Fiorio (Duke Tumatoe; lead guitar), Terry Luttrell (lead vocals), Bob Crownover (lead guitar), Gregg Philbin (bass guitar/backing vocals), Joe McCabe (saxophone), Marty Shepard (trumpet) and Steve Scorfina (lead guitar), the act named themselves after a 1915 truck model, the 'REO Speed Wagon' designed by Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of the REO Motor Company. Doughty saw the name written on the blackboard in his History of Transportation class and suggested it to his bandmates but spelling out the initials instead of pronouncing them as one word. Under their new name, the act initially played cover songs at local gigs, going through several line-up changes and musical styles in the 1970s, experimenting with progressive rock, hard rock and pop rock. After their debut albums R.E.O. Speedwagon (1971) and R.E.O./T.W.O. (1972), they achieved their first commercial breakthrough with the live album You Get What You Play For (1977), which featured their signature song Ridin' the Storm Out featured on the album of the same title in 1973.

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After the release of Lost in a Dream (1974), This Time We Mean It (1975), R.E.O. (1976), You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can't Tuna Fish (1978) and Nine Lives (1979), their popularity soared in the 1980s when they released a string of hit albums and singles, such as Hi Infidelity (1980), Keep On Loving You (1980), Take It On The Run (1981), Good Trouble (1982), Can't Fight This Feeling (1984) and Wheels Are Turnin' (1984). They became one of the most successful arena rock bands of the decade, selling over 40 million records worldwide and charting 13 top 40 hits in the US. Their music was also featured in several movies and TV shows, such as The Goonies, Grown Ups and Ozark.

R.E.O. Speedwagon's mainstream popularity declined in the late 1980s and 1990s with the albums of Life as We Know It (1987), The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken (1990), Building the Bridge (1996), Find Your Own Way Home (2007) and Not So Silent Night ... Christmas with REO Speedwagon (2009), as they faced competition from newer rock genres and changing musical tastes. They continued to record and tour, however, with a loyal fan base and a reputation for being a great live act. They also collaborated with other artists, such as Styx, Ted Nugent, Chicago and Bastille. In 2019, they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their classic album Hi Infidelity with a special tour.

R.E.O. Speedwagon's music is influenced by both classic and contemporary rock bands, such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. They combine catchy melodies, powerful vocals, guitar riffs and keyboard solos to create a distinctive and memorable rock sound.

The band's current line-up consists of Kevin Cronin (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (lead guitar/backing vocals), Bruce Hall (bass/backing vocals), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums) but, along with the aforementioned members, has featured Gary Richrath (lead guitar/occasional vocals (1970-1989; touring guest 1999, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2013)), Mike Murphy (lead vocals/occasional rhythm guitar (1973-1975)), Greg X. Volz (lead vocals (1976)), Graham Lear (drums/percussion (1988-1990)), Carla Day (backing vocals (1988-1989)), Melanie Jackson-Cracchiolo (backing vocals (1988-1989)), Miles Joseph (lead guitar (1989)), Rick Braun (trumpet (1989)) and Jesse Harms (keyboards, backing vocals (1989-1991)).

The writing of this article was assisted by Artificial Intelligence as an experiment.

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Nation USA
Location Champaign, Illinois
Genre Hard Rock
Formations 1
Active Years 1967-
Last Modified 2023-07-28
Diskery ID 2713

Artists Linked to R.E.O. Speedwagon

Bon Jovi Chicago Def Leppard
Foreigner Journey Led Zeppelin
Queen Styx Ted Nugent
The Beatles The Doors The Rolling Stones

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