When their 1980 single Keep On Loving You became REO Speedwagon’s first hit, the band had already spent close to ten years trying unsuccessfully to record a hit and performing in half-empty concert halls.
Named by keyboard player Neal Doughty after a high-speed truck he learned about in a History of Transportation class, they formed in 1968 as a hard rock band at the University of Illinois and had been making faceless minor chart LPs since 1974.
After the success of Keep On Loving You – a million-selling US #1 – and their 11th album Hi Infidelity (1980) the band softened their sound, applied an AOR radio gloss and played their part in ushering in an era of power ballads.
They repeated the success in 1985 with the ballad Can’t Fight This Feeling – which was #1 in America for three weeks – but the hits dried up soon after.
Drummer Alan Gratzer left the group in 1988 and guitarist Gary Richrath a year later. The line-up has remained unchanged ever since, with vocalist Kevin Cronin, Doughty and bassist Bruce Hall – present since 1977 – alongside guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt.
Gary Richrath died on 13 September 2015.
Vocals, guitar, piano