REO Speedwagon: Ridin' The Storm Out

I remember first hearing the band REO SPEEDWAGON in the mid-70's when I traveling the midwest. I think I first heard them on St. Louis' giant AOR Station, KSHE-FM. The next time I visited them I asked my friend, the P.D. Teddy Habeck, about them and he explained they were some guys out of the University of Illinois in Champaign, who had been touring the midwest for some time, often in a station wagon. But after signing with Epic Records shortly before they were starting to spread nationally.

I'm not going to attempt to list the players--these guys had 3 different lead singers on their first three albums--but the founders were Neil Doughty a Keyboard Player, and Alan Gratzer a drummer. The first two albums did well on their home turf, but it was the third, RIDIN THE STORM OUT, that I think established the group nationwide.

Meanwhile their Concerts were selling out and R.E.O. (The REO Speedwagon was a flatbed truck named after the founder of the truck company, Ransom E. Olds) was a hot ticket. Like so many others they went to the record company and made their case for a live album in 1977 that became: "Live: You Get What You Play For," which went Platinum; so they packed up their stuff and moved to L.A.

REO continued to record and tour as their fan-base grew and in 1980 they released their blockbuster album, "Hi Infidelity" which moved away from Hard Rock to a more Pop sound and threw off 4 Hit singles, stayed on the Hot 200 Album Chart for 65 weeks, 32 Top 10 and 15 weeks #1, and selling over 10 Million records, raising the Speedwagon to superstar status.

By the end of the decade their popularity had begun to fade, but they could tour forever on their laurels. This summer REO is out with Styx and Don Felder on the "United We Rock" tour. Scott found a great restored "Midnight Special" video with band doing "Ridin' The Storm Out," live with HQ sound. Dig the hair. @therealdonrocks

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