REO Speedwagon Makes a Comeback

REO Speedwagon has enjoyed much success since the early-1970s. Lead singer Kevin Cronin still enjoys performing.

“I’m having more fun today than I ever have, and I just feel like I appreciate everybody in the audience a little more now than I ever did,” Cronin said. “I kind of sit back and I go, ‘Man, we’ve been extremely fortunate over the years.’ I kind of look at it from a different perspective.”

The meaning of its name

The band’s name was suggested by a band member who was taking a class about transportation. The name stuck.

Cronin explains, “And the professor wrote on the (black) board, REO Speedwagon, and he was talking about how the first fire trucks that could actually get to the fire quicker than the horse-drawn buggy was the REO Speedwagon,” he said. “So it looked good on the board, and it kind of makes sense, you know. It’s long-lasting; it’s hard-working; it moves pretty quick; and we kind of felt like, okay, that makes sense.”

The new CD, “Finding Your Own Way Home,” is about long-lasting relationships.

“It really does tell a story about trying the best you can, and the challenges involved with keeping a long-term relationship together. I believe that it’s possible, and that’s the biggest challenge in life. That’s what this record is all about,” Cronin said.

Life experiences inspires song writing

As the band’s songwriter, Cronin draws from his own life experience, including his father’s open-heart surgery.

“Sitting in the dressing room, I just started playing the guitar, just, you know, screwing around, nothing in mind, and the next thing I knew, you know, I was writing a song about the experience,” Cronin recalls. “Something has to move you to get you to write, and you never know what it’s going to be.”

Even after being around for more than 30 years, Cronin says the band still does its own thing.

“We’ve been able to not really have to go along with any trends. We’ve just been able to skate through doing our own thing because of the fact that it’s folk music, and folk music is, it’s for the people, and it’s stories about what people do; how people feel; the relationships that people are in; and the challenges of keeping those relationships together. We just really let the songs lead us where they want to go,” he said.

Cronin says he is always amazed when people in other countries know the words to his songs.

“That’s an amazing feeling I will say. I guess, you know, English is a second language in a lot of these countries, but it’s not the first language. And a lot of people, as you say, know the words to our big hits — that may be some of the only English they know, but they sing along with those songs. It is a pretty cool thing,” he said.

REO Speedwagon, still on the road, still attracting large audiences.