CLASSIC: REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin recounts band's history

- To many, REO Speedwagon were the pioneers of the power ballad. Many of their songs, such as "Can't Fight This Feeling", "Take It On The Run" and "Keep On Loving You" have a special place in people's hearts.

The band, which formed in 1967, reached its peak in the 1980s, with the release of "Hi Infidelity". The band has sold millions of records since.

Recently, FOX 10 Phoenix's John Hook sat down with Kevin Cronin to talk about the band's success, over the decades.

"I would say I enjoy it just as much as I ever did," said Cronin. He said the song "Hi Infidelity" changed everything.

"We'd been together 10 years already," said Cronin. "We kind of had a taste of fame, but 'Hi Infidelity' blew the lid off the joint...without that record, would I be sitting here with you tonight? Maybe not."

The band has had many top ten singles, including "Keep On Loving You", "Take It On The Run", "In Your Letter" and "Don't Let Him Go".

These days, REO is still selling out shows, as loyal fans pine for the hits.

"Everybody comes to re-live that moment," Cronin said. He went on to say, however, that fans fail to realize these songs were in their infancy, when they were offered to the world.

"When we record the songs, they're brand new," said Cronin. "Mostly, we'd just gotten done writing them, so we barely even know them and here we are, creating the definitive version of the song."

During the recording of "Hi Infidelity", the record company was pressing the band to write a radio friendly hit, a job that went to Cronin. He delivered "Keep On Loving You".

"'Keep On Loving You', the whole thing happened in a 24-hour period," Cronin recounted. "Two bursts of energy."

The record company nearly passed on the song. The same was true for "Take It On The Run", which went on to place fifth on the charts.

"Hi Infidelity" became one of the biggest albums of the 80's, having sold 10 million copies.

"I had convinced myself that all we needed was a hit record and all my problems would just disappear," said Cronin. "So when you get to the top of the mountain, and suddenly all your problems don't disappear, at least for me, I kinda went -- oh man, it took me to a pretty dark place."

Cronin regrouped a couple of years later, and wrote the biggest hit of his career: "Can't Fight This Feeling". That song was REO's second number one, and a song Cronin labored over for 10 years.

"You never know, theres no formula," said Cronin. "There's no right way or wrong way. Do your best to write what you know and what you feel, and be honest with what you're writing."

It's that honesty that REO fans have come to appreciate.

There have been discussions over whether REO Speedwagon will eventually end up in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. Cronin said while he's not holding his breath, it would be nice.

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