REO Speedwagon Biography
Dubbed as kings of Arena-Rock, REO Speedwagon was conceived by keyboardist Neal Doughty and drummer Alan Gratzer in 1967 when they both attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. After donning its unusual name, derived from the early American version of the fire engine that was developed by Ransom E. Olds, the band added vocalist Terry Luttrell, guitarist Gary Richrath and bassist Gregg Philbin.
After signing with Epic Records the quintet made their debut in late
1971 with the release of a self-titled album which failed to achieve the
predicted chart making impact.
Afterwards Luttrell was replaced by new lead singer Kevin Cronin who made his studio debut on 1972's "R.E.O./T.W.O."; unfortunately the record failed to find an audience and Cronin was fired and eventually replaced by vocalist Mike Murphy.
REO Speedwagon scored its first charting record with "Ridin' The Storm Out"; over the years, this album became a platinum-seller, due to the strength of their series of opening shows for more successful Rock acts, but it originally charted at #171 and included the studio version of the band's first U.S. Pop Singles chart entry: "Ridin' The Storm Out".
Before 1974 was out, the quintet provided another album, "Lost In A Dream", which broke into the top 100 on the U.S. Pop chart.
"This Time We Meant It" followed in the summer of 1975 and reached the #74 position on the Pop Albums chart; this album was Michael Murphy's last record with the band.
With Kevin Cronin back into the REO Speedwagon fold, in June 1976 the group released its sixth LP; simply titled "R.E.O", it only scraped the bottom of the U.S. Albums chart but featured the Cronin-penned inspiring tush-kicker "Keep Pushing", that ignited the band's golden period.
The group's first live album, 1977's "You Get What You Play For", peaked at #72 on the Pop Sales chart and brought REO Speedwagon its first moderately successful single, the aforementioned "Ridin' The Storm Out".
Change was in the air in 1978, as Bruce Hall, succeeded Gregg Philbin as bass guitarist and was featured on the band's next album, "You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish". The record yielded two singles, "Roll With The Changes" and "Time For Me To Fly" which only made it to #58 and #56 on the Pop chart, but the album's sales trumped all of the chart statistics shooting up to #29 and giving REO Speedwagon its second platinum-selling album.
1979's "Nine Lives" also charted in the top 40 of the U.S. Pop Albums list, nevertheless, the record stalled at gold sales and the lead single, "Only The Strong Survive", worryingly failed to crack the top 100.
But in December 1980 with the monumental "Hi Infidelity", REO Speedwagon hit its stride, the album shot to #1 on the American Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart spawning four singles that charted on the Pop Singles list: the #1 power ballad "Keep On Loving You", the surging top 5 smash "Take It On The Run", the top 20 hit "In Your Letter" and "Don't Let Him Go" which reached #24 and crossed over into The Mainstream Rock peaking at #11; in addition, another song from that album, "Tough Guys", grazed The Mainstream Rock chart.
Released in April 2007 "Find Your Own Way Home" is the first collection of new songs since REO Speedwagon's 1996 release "Building The Bridge" and it's a wonderful return to form from the veteran Rock band; 100 XR has selected the gorgeous power ballad "I Needed to Fall" for your listening pleasure.