CLEARWATER — American rock band REO Speedwagon is on the road again this year serving up a collection of classic tunes.
Kevin Cronin will lead the band as they make a stop in the Tampa Bay area for a performance Sunday, March 1, 7:30 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets start at $40.50. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.
Formed loosely in the late ’60s, REO — named after the precursor to the light truck — rode to gigs in station wagons, hopping from small gigs to even tinier gigs, just to get their name out. It worked, as fans quickly realized there was much more going on here than your average college party band.
Cronin has fronted REO Speedwagon since 1972. The band’s unrelenting drive, as well as non-stop touring and recording, jumpstarted the burgeoning rock movement in the Midwest. Platinum albums and freeform FM radio staples such as “Ridin’ the Storm Out” followed, setting the stage for 1980’s explosive “Hi Infidelity” — an album which received the Recording Industry Association of America’s 10X Diamond Award for surpassing sales of 10 million units in the U.S. REO rode the top of the charts with a RIAA-certified 22 million albums sold in the U.S. and 40 million around the globe, with a string of gold and platinum records and international hit singles, including “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”
In 1994, when many rock bands of their era had either broken up or were feeling like their days were numbered, the REO team came up with a co-headline tour concept that breathed new life into the world of touring. The “Can’t Stop Rockin’” amphitheater tour featuring Fleetwood Mac, REO, and Pat Benatar was a huge success and blazed the trail for the very popular co-headline tours that are seen nationwide today.
After an 11-year break from recording, REO Speedwagon released “Find Your Own Way Home” in 2007, marking the band's 15th studio effort. Just two years later, REO teamed up with their fellow Midwestern rockers Styx to record the new single, “Can’t Stop Rockin’,” which was co-written by the
two bands’ front men, Cronin and Tommy Shaw.
Later that year, the tune became the title track for the “Can’t Stop Rockin’ Tour,” as REO Speedwagon hit the road with Styx and .38 Special to unite three of the hardest working bands in America. Sponsored by VH1 and Rock Band, the tour was a recession-busting night of rock and roll, offering the best value of the year. At the close of 2009, not only did the trio of bands end up being nominated for the Most Creative Tour Package by Pollstar, but they were also one of the highest-grossing, most successful shows of the year.
Today, REO Speedwagon still has that Midwest work ethic. The band has gone on stage and in the studio to work: dozens of albums, thousands of concerts, and countless radio spins. Their eyes have always been on the future and on the road — not a year has gone by where REO Speedwagon didn’t perform live, entertaining fans with hit-filled sets.
REO Speedwagon’s fans in Clearwater should get ready for a night of familiar classics as the band performs their hit singles such as "Keep on Loving You," "Take It on the Run," "Can’t Fight This Feeling," and more.