REO Speedwagon

1968-
Kevin CroninVocals1972-
Gary RichrathGuitar1968-1989
Greg PhilbinBass1968-1976
Neal DoughtyKeyboards
Alan GratzerDrums1968-1988
Bruce HallBass1976-
Bryan HittDrums1990-
Dave AmatoGuitar1990-
Terry LutrellVocals1968-1971
Mike MurphyVocals1973-1975

REO Speedwagon Artistfacts

  • They were named after a fire engine. The name "REO Speedwagon" refers to Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile. He also owned the The REO Motor Truck Company, which made a model in 1915 called the Speedwagon, a forerunner to the pickup truck.

    It was keyboard player Neal Doughty who came up with the name, which embodied the rebellious spirit of Ransom Olds and also stood out on a marquee, with three capital letters out front.
  • Kevin Cronin was offered a job as an MTV VJ before the network went on the air, but he turned it down since there was no way to stay in the band at the same time. The role of good-looking dude with mullet-fro went to Mark Goodman.
  • They are from Champaign, Illinois. A street there is named "REO Speedwagon Way."
  • The band was formed by Gratzer and Doughty, who were students at the University of Illinois.
  • Their Hi Infidelity album was #1 for six weeks in America in the summer of 1981. This earned them a lot of airplay when MTV launched on August 1, but the band's videos were low budget performance clips. In the ensuing years, other acts with more high concept videos began to dominate MTV.

    "I always thought it was cool," Kevin Cronin told Songfacts. "When people came to concerts back in those days, there were no video screens, so if somebody was up in front they could really see the band and really see what was going on, but the majority of people in an arena are so far away that you can barely even see what the band looks like. Well, this was a way to come into people's living rooms and connect with them more. To me, that's kind of what it's all about: finding ways to connect with people through the music. I always thought MTV was pretty cool."
  • Many of their hits were inspired by the ups and downs of the band members' relationships. The album title Hi Infidelity is a nod to the cheating that was going on: guitarist Gary Richrath wrote "Take It On The Run" about the problems he was having with his girlfriend, Debbie, and he wrote "In Your Letter" about a Dear John letter the band's keyboard player, Neal Doughty, got from his wife. Kevin Cronin wrote "Keep On Loving You" after learning that his wife, Denise, had cheated on them before they were married.
  • Cronin and his wife, Denise, had a son in 1977 named Paris (she also had a daughter from a previous marriage). They divorced about ten years later; Kevin married his second wife, Lisa, in 1992, and they had three children together: a daughter Holly and twin sons Josh and Shane.

Comments: 21

  • Thomas from Bourbonnais, IlWhy isn't Steve Scorfina listed as a band member ? Steve was the lead guitar player in 1969-'70. He left REO SPEEDWAGON and formed the band PAVOLV'S DOG in St. Louis, Mo. While in REO Steve wrote the song "Sweet Lucille" In the video that is on you.tube it is a photo of REO (with Steve) playing at a anti- vietnam protest railly in what today is called Daley Plazza. This photo was used on the Huntley Brinkley Report news program in 1969 or 1970. I have looked at all the videos on you tube and the NBC Archives web site but cant find it. The comment made by the reporter was "This political rock band played across from Mayor Daley's office and gave the mayor a headache." Does anybody know where else I can look for this news report. P.S. Steve has come out of retirement and start a band in St. Louis called "SOUL STEEL"
  • Leon Huffman from Casey, IlI saw REO Speedwagon several times in the 70's and they were great. Made a mistake getting rid of Gary. Don't care for Kevin Cronin's attitude anyway and don't listen to them anymore. Met Michael Murphy and saw him play keyboards with ONE-EYED JACKS several times before he was a member of REO.
  • James from Benton, Il, NvI went to college at ISU in Bloomington-Normal, IL. REO started back then, and they were real popular in that area. They even appeard at the Red Lion Inn in Bloomington. I saw them in concert once with Black Oak Arkansas. Kevin Cronin acts like he is one of the founders, and he dumps on Gary Richrath. They need him back in the band. Their last "hit" really sucked. They need to get back rockin'.
  • Sarah from Quincy, IlI work with a woman who graduated from high school in 1982, and she had her senior pictures taken in an REO Speedwagon concert shirt, which at that time was far more unusual than it is now. Her parents refused to pay for them when they saw them.
  • Kent from Fort Wayne, InGetting ready to pass the torch tonight. My 13 yr old daughter is going to her first concert, and it will be REO at the Embassy in Fort Wayne, In. She likes more of Styx songs but has gotten into REO recently. Its great when music becomes generational.
  • Ashley from East Peoria , Ili konw gary's son eric really well we are best friend s in ghigh school years back in east peoria ILLinois.
    Love ashley
  • Bobby from Northbrook, IlI grew up in IL and worked with a guy named Powie that lived with REO Speed Wagon, on a bus in Southern IL, in the late 60's early '70's. They totally rocked. As far as the Kevin Cronin soft rock stuff, SCREW YOU MAN!!!!! ROCK ON REO SPEEDWAGON...........

    Kevin please stop denying your past for the sake of money. PARTY ON.............................

    If you grew up where I did , REO LIVE was the best album you ever listened to period.

    Soft rock my ass.....................
  • Todd from Pekin, IlActually, Eric was from Creve Coeur. I used to deliver the paper to his mom's house and I played baseball (pick up games) with him. He did go to East Peoria High School though.
  • Pat from Albuquerque, NmI saw REO Speedwagon maybe 30 years ago in Market Square Arena in Indy. They were far better live than in the studio. They were a basic Midwestern rock band, and weren't flashy, hence maybe why they never did many videos. They now tour smaller clubs and showrooms, but I'm sure they're still playing well.
  • Michelle from Maplewood, MnMy best friend was so lucky when REO Speedwagon came to the minnesota state fair she saw them and my favorite songs of REO speedwagon are keep on loving you and take it on the run and it's time for me to fly and can't fight this feeling anymore the lead singer Kevin Cronin is one of my favorite lead sigers in the world of soft rock and alot of other lead singers are on my list
  • William David Snyder from Phoenix, Az The "speedwagon"has been droped from the REO
    band name. due to the drug culture of the 60's
    70's and 80's.The band name is REO.
  • K from New York City, NyDon't forget the contribution of Mike Murphy--a soulful, bluesy voice that I've always preferred to Cronin's shrill stacato. (Relax, Cronin's a great singer!) Murphy sang lead briefly from, I think, '73 through '75. Last I heard, Murphy was playing keys for a guy named Steve Pierson. Not sure where Murphy lives now. Wish he'd do his own recording with vocals...While living in the Midwest, I had a chance to see Murphy guest perform with the Faith Band (Indianapolis-based)in '76. A truly great show.
    K. New York City
  • Peter from Seattle, WaI've got to take issue with the "artistfact" about them not doing well in the video era.

    When MTV debuted in 1981, there weren't that many American bands with conceptual videos ready to go--so, MTV relied on taking clips from live performances. REO Speedwagon concert videos were definitely a staple of its daily programming...and certainly helped keep "Hi-Infidelity" on the charts as long as it was.

    I'm also fairly certain that the first EVER live concert on MTV was an REO Speedwagon concert--such was their status in the music industry at the time.

    Their often "wacky" conceptual videos were definitely in the style picked up by Huey Lewis & The News for THEIR "mainstream band earns video success" template.

    REO Speedwagon...like Styx, like Journey and other bands of that era were career musicians who couldn't just reinvent themselves every time a new trend came around--so, their time came and went, as stars on MTV. Whether or not they weren't "photogenic" or not didn't so much matter--I mean, were The Cars good looking? Was Billy Joel? There are so many "pop" artists that did just fine in the first five to seven years of MTV...many of whom wouldn't get the chance to be now...

    Just don't believe the hype--video didn't kill THESE particular radio stars... By the time they were pigeonholed as aging balladeers--hair metal and college rock had made them irrelevant to MTV viewers (just as it did to Steve Winwood, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Foreigner and a host of others...)
  • Reo157 from Usa, United StatesFormer REO drummer Alan Gratzer occasionally sits in with the band, but only for a once-in-a-blue moon Califonia date. What was the venue?
  • Otto from Miami, FlI just saw REO in concert a couple of weeks ago and they had two drummers up on stage. One was Bryan Hitt, but I;ve never seen the other guy before. Anyone have any idea who that might be?
  • Lee from Bloomington, IlTerry Luttrell wasn't "fired" from STARCASTLE..He hails from Rantoul and appeared on all 4 STARCASTLE albums...and he has been at every reunion the band has done...even the benefit for Gary Strater that was held last year...I would guess he remained in very good standing with them....as for why he left REO....I think it was a mutual decision, based on musical differences.
  • Lee from Bloomington, IlSo...whatever happened to Greg Philbin after he left in 1976???? He's an incredible bassist....Did he become a studio bassist in L.A. or Nashville??? The albums he did with REO are classics....nobody plays better than Regis!!!!! I saw them in 1971 and 1972....Just like the cover of T.W.O.
  • Reo157 from Usa, United StatesDoctors never made any such statement to Gregg Philbin. He's in great health, and said rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated.
  • Chris from Lake Orion, MiActually, James from Anaheim is close, but not fully correct. It stands for Ransom Eli Olds, not Earl.
  • Emory from Baltimore, MdDoctors told Greg Philbin he would "never live to see the bicentennial"; he showed them.
  • Jennifer from Belleville, IlGary Richrath was from East Peoria Illinois. During high school he was a tennis play. His son Eric grew up in East Peoria and worked at Wendys during his hight school years.
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