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      REO Speedwagon, Styx in Tucson

      • REO Speedwagon, Styx Photo #1
      1 of 1
      May 4, 2012

      Friday   8:00 PM

      7406 S. Camino De Oeste
      Tucson, Arizona 85746

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      REO Speedwagon, Styx

      REO Speedwagon

      Sure, you can call the members of REO Speedwagon rock stars. But if you have to label them, here’s the more accurate term they prefer: Working musicians. Formed in 1967, signed in 1971 and fronted by iconic vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon has – for decades – been a confounding blend of consistency and change. They rode in station wagons, going from tiny gigs to even tinier gigs, just to get the REO name out in the early days. Later they 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. The 9-times certified Hi Infidelity remains a high-water mark for rock bands. Make all the “Ridin’ The Storm Out” or “Roll With The Changes” cracks you want, but that’s exactly what the band has done. REO Speedwagon has that Midwest work ethic. The band has gone onstage and in the studio and done the work, year after year – dozens of albums, hundreds (thousands?) of concerts, infinite radio spins. The eyes have always been on the future and on the road – not a year has gone by where REO Speedwagon didn’t perform live, thrilling fans with hits like “Keep On Loving You” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” And yes, they do roll with the changes. With the modern-day music industry disintegrating, the band members recorded Find Your Own Way Home in 2007 and put it out themselves through Walmart – and personally drove to radio stations across the country to get it heard. Ultimately the album, (yes, REO Speedwagon still makes albums, not a bunch of songs), had more success than it would ever see with a record company. Whatever the band members need to do to connect with fans, they do it. “We're still doing it and still going strong,” Cronin says. Cronin (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards) has always cast an eye to the future, along with band-mates Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (lead guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums). It wasn’t a surprise to Cronin to see the industry run aground. “I think maybe the music industry needed to fall a little bit because it was getting bloated and there were just too many people putting out CDs with one or two good songs on them and eventually that's gonna backfire,” Cronin says. What never backfires is a great live show. In 2009 REO Speedwagon hit the road on the Can’t Stop Rockin’ Tour with STYX and 38 Special, three of the hardest working bands in America. Sponsored by VH1 and Rock Band ®, the tour was a recession-buster night of rock ‘n’ roll, offering the best value of the year, with some tickets as low as $13.50. At the close of 2009, not only did they end up being nominated for the Most Creative Tour Package by Pollstar, but they were was also one of the highest grossing, most successful shows of the year! This sort of victory seems to be the way for them right now, and we suspect it’s because they know what people want to hear during this particularly difficult time in our history. Hope. Passion. A reason to do the things we do. And songwriter Cronin is a longtime fan of hope. “I am an optimistic person,” Cronin says. “In every song I have ever written, no matter the depth of darkness from which it was conceived, there has always been a message of hope. My own songs often serve to remind me that in the toughest of times, hope must remain undying.” To that end, REO and STYX teamed up on a new single, “Can’t Stop Rockin’,” co-written by Cronin and STYX’s Tommy Shaw. In anticipation of another dynamic pairing, REO has teamed up with Pat Benatar for their upcoming “Love on the Run Tour.” “Love on the Run” will bring the songs of these two historic rock bands to stages all across America. Their music will take fans back to their early ‘80s explosion onto the Billboard charts, where both artists enjoyed #1 and Top 10 positions for the better part of the decade; and will carry on through their career with music that continues to define their excellence in song craftsmanship and performance. As part of the tour, REO has also teamed up with eHarmony to offer “success couples” in select markets the opportunity to win a VIP date at a “Love on the Run” date. REO will select a couple who posts the most liked and entertaining REO song performance on eHarmony’s YouTube channel and the winning couple will win VIP transportation, a hi-class catered backstage dinner served by REO and tickets to their show. This is just another way REO is creating unique opportunities for fans. When the talk turns to benefit concerts the names that come to mind are George Harrison, U2 and Bob Geldof. REO has quietly done its share, sans self-serving promotional tours, from appearing at the Live Aid concert in 1985, to a benefit for port authority workers after 9/11 and recent MusiCares shows, along with a “Ridin’ The Storm Out” benefit concert that raised more than a half-million dollars for Iowa flood relief in 2008. In what little downtime he has, Cronin stays busy with appearances on shows like Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and his own writing on his blog at KevinCronin.com. He recently appeared on FOX-TV’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics! It’s a busy life, but it always has been for the band. Formed loosely in the late ‘60s at college in Champaign, IL, REO (famously named after a fire engine) and its fans quickly realized there was much more going on here than your average frat-party band. By the early ‘70s the band’s unrelenting drive, non-stop touring and recording jump-started the burgeoning rock movement in the Midwest. It carved a path eventually followed by STYX, Kansas, Cheap Trick and more. Platinum albums and freeform FM radio staples such as “Ridin’ The Storm Out” followed, setting the stage for 1980’s explosive Hi Infidelity. The band’s younger fans might not realize the sheer impact Hi Infidelity had on music and the culture of rock ‘n’ roll. Its 9 million in sales was fueled by huge hit singles in “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On the Run.” High Infidelity spent months in the #1 slot, a feat simply unattainable in music today. The strong run continued with hits like “Can’t Fight This Feeling” up through the new “Can’t Stop Rockin’.” Today it’s all about what it has always been – taking good care of the band’s legacy while keeping the focus on the future. That may be even more important these days, Cronin believes. "The world is going through a weird phase, and everybody needs music now more than ever. We all need to join our friends, pool our resources, combine our energies, because there is power in people coming together,” he says.

      Styx

      STYX - Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips (along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo), have performed more live since ’99 than all of the previous years of its career combined. Two Super-Bowl appearances, Pollstar Box Office chart-topping tours with Def Leppard, Journey, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Bad Company (to name only a few), two more studio albums and no end in sight, STYX continues to conquer the planet, one venue at a time. Spawned from a suburban Chicago basement in the early ‘70s, Styx would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late '70s and early '80s, due to a fondness for big rockers and soaring power ballads. Early on, Styx's music reflected such then-current prog rockers as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the Moody Blues, as evidenced by such releases as 1972's self-titled debut, 1973's Styx II, 1974's The Serpent Is Rising, and 1975's Man of Miracles. While the albums (as well as non-stop touring) helped the group build a substantial following locally, Styx failed to break through to the mainstream, until a track originally from their second album, "Lady" started to get substantial airplay in late '74 on the Chicago radio station WLS-FM. The song was soon issued as a single nationwide, and quickly shot to number six on the singles chart, as Styx II was certified gold. By this time, however, the group had grown disenchanted with their record label, and opted to sign on with A&M for their fifth release overall, 1975's Equinox (their former label would issue countless compilations over the years, culled from tracks off their early releases). On the eve of the tour in support of the album, original guitarist John Curulewski abruptly left the band, and was replaced by Tommy Shaw. Shaw proved to be the missing piece of the puzzle for Styx, as most of their subsequent releases throughout the late '70s earned at least platinum certification (1976's Crystal Ball, 1977's The Grand Illusion, 1978's Pieces of Eight, and 1979's Cornerstone), and spawned such hit singles and classic rock radio standards as "Come Sail Away," "Renegade," "Blue Collar Man" and "Fooling Yourself.” The band decided that their first release of the '80s would be a concept album, 1981's Paradise Theater, which was loosely based on the rise and fall of a once-beautiful theater (which was supposedly used as a metaphor for the state of the U.S. at the time -- the Iranian hostage situation, the Cold War, Reagan, etc.). Paradise Theater became Styx's biggest hit of their career (selling over three million copies in a three-year period), as they became one of the U.S. top rock acts due to such big hit singles as "Too Much Time on My Hands". It also marked the first time in history that a band released four consecutive triple-platinum albums. A career-encompassing live album, Caught in the Act, was issued in 1984, before Styx went on hiatus, and the majority of its members pursued solo projects throughout the remainder of the decade. A re-recording of their early hit, "Lady" (titled "Lady" '95"), for a Greatest Hits compilation, finally united Shaw with his former Styx bandmates, which led to a full-on reunion tour in 1996. But drummer John Panozzo fell seriously ill at the time (due to a long struggle with alcoholism), which prevented him from joining the proceedings -- as he passed away in July of the same year. Although grief-stricken, Styx persevered with new drummer Todd Sucherman taking the place of Panozzo, as the Styx reunion tour became a surprise sold-out success, resulting in the release of a live album/video, 1997's "Return to Paradise," while a whole new generation of rock fans were introduced to the grandiose sounds of Styx via a humorous car ad which used the track "Mr. Roboto," as well as songs used in such TV shows as South Park and Freaks & Geeks.

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