Keep on Lovin' REO Speedwagon
If I can be so bold to offer this observation: Kevin Cronin was the face of the early 80s music scene. REO Speedwagon's live videos saturated the first day of MTV's programming. Their album "Hi Infidelity" was the top-selling record a half year in 1981. And six tunes from that glorious record reached the charts that year. In shorter words, he was a golden god.
Times music critic Sean Daly and I recently had the chance to interview Cronin for Stuck in the 80s prior to REO's concert here in Tampa Bay on Oct. 23 at Ruth Eckerd Hall. We asked him about his local ties (he's got in-laws all around Tampa Bay), the new album -- "Find Your Own Way Home," and his super-human songwriting powers that created the band's string of hits in the 80s.
Here are some highlights from our talk with Cronin:
On the effect a new album has on touring: "Just on a vibe level, everyone's feeling renewed energy-wise. It's just a great feeling to finish a record and ... it can't help but rub off on the classic songs. The old songs song better than ever to me now. I'm having more fun singing them than I ever have."
On stories people have about their songs: "We get some wacky stories. We had a couple, as I was singing "Can't Fight This Feeling" in Syracuse, NY, ... there was a guy on one knee in the aisle proposing to his girlfriend as we sang the song. ... I got an e-mail recently from a guy in Iraq. They play our music inside their armored vehicles as they go into battle. They're playing 'Riding the Storm Out.' "
On how many women have been seduced to "Keep On Loving You": "That's a tightly held secret that no one in the band is able to disclose the actual facts and figures. We do have a bed post that we carry around in the tour bus that everyone puts notches in on a nightly basis. (laughs) Not at all. But there was a time. When those records were huge hits, I don't know exactly what it is, but women do like to be around rock bands.
On trashing hotel rooms: "The old days of throwing a nice big picture-tube analog TV out the window, there was a certain explosion that was made when one of those things hit the cement. The new flat-screens, they're just not as much fun to throw out windows anymore, so why bother?
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