By Lynette Carrington
Fans will be "Smilin' In The End" when they visit the pool at Talking Stick Resort at 8 p.m. on May 17 and see REO Speedwagon live. Attendees will be in revel in excitement as the band members perform their collection of memorable hits such as "Time for Me To Fly," "Take It On The Run" and the radio classic "Keep on Loving You." Founding band member, keyboardist Neal Doughty sat down with Scottsdale.com to talk about the upcoming poolside gig.
Doughty founded the band in 1967 and is the only original founding member of REO Speedwagon who is still with the band. Lead singer Kevin Cronin has been providing his iconic vocals since 1972 and is still rocking the mic, too. In retrospect, Doughty has been pleased with the band's success. "First of all, the band started by accident," explains Doughty. "It was just some college kids starting a band in their dorm room to play the local campus bars. Somewhere along the line someone in New York heard about us and it just gradually got better and better."
"The amazing thing that happened is that in the early 1980s we had some real big hit records and a lot of radio airplay. That changed everything and that's the reason why we're still working now. All the people that were in high school when those songs were on the radio-they're now in their 40s and the kids have left for college and they're starting a whole new life going to concerts and doing the stuff they couldn't do before. It's very amazing in the first place... but it's even more amazing that we still can sell out places. We love the casino showrooms now because they're like very elegant bars almost. They're bigger than most of the bars we used to play but its that same intimate atmosphere," states Doughty.
Doughty continues, "We'll still play big festivals-sometimes we'll do a festival with 35,000 people or indoor/outdoor pavilions with 20,000 people but we still love the slightly more intimate rooms. It's been unbelievable and I have no complaints about the whole thing,"
Created in 1967 and fronted by iconic lead singer Kevin Cronin since 1972, the legendary band instantly catapulted to fame in the early 70s. Their ninth studio album "Hi Infidelity" produced six singles that topped the "Billboard" charts, including the stirring 1980 ballad "Keep on Loving You," that has since been certified platinum nine times. Today, the band continues to play for sold-out crowds around the world. This will be REO Speedwagon's first time at the Pool at Talking Stick Resort so don't miss the chance to see them live.
Doughty says he just purchased a home in the valley after spending the last 10 years in Minnesota with his wife. "We can't take any more of those Minnesota winters," he states. "We have quite a few friends-our tour manager, one of our crew member live there in Scottsdale and we have some really good friends in Chandler," he says. "We're just going to lie there happily for the rest of our lives. We've finally lived through enough winters to deserve out dream house and it just happens to be there in the Phoenix area."
Keeping it fresh, the band has a new song it's working on, plus a recorded concert with another well-known band. "We have a new song we're doing that's never been recorded actually, says Doughty. "Kevin brought it in, mostly written and we put it together and rehearse it during sound checks. It's never been in a studio or rehearsal hall." REO Speedwagon has also done some shows with Chicago and they have all had a blast working together. A full-length concert video will be available in the future featuring the two iconic bands. "It's the biggest hits of REO and Chicago and a set we play together. It was so much fun and amazing how it turned out." Stay up-to-date on the latest with REO Speedwagon at www.REOSpeedwagon.com .