Ransom Eli Olds (REO) invented the speedwagon fire truck in 1910. In 1967, REO Speedwagon became the name of the rock band Neal Doughty and Alan Gratzer founded. The band got started at the University of Illinois. Kevin Cronin joined REO Speedwagon in 1971. 

"At the time - this was late '60s, early '70s - you know college campuses in the country were alive and the Vietnam war was raging. There was a feeling amongst the students on campus that we were changing the world and music was a big part of it...Our band came out of an era when music meant so much to people...Our music has touched people you know, it’s basically folk music, music about how people feel, how people get along, what people do." Gary Richrath added, "The fans kept it real. They were always warm and friendly." 

Of REO Speedwagon success, Kevin believed, "I think we give people a positive message, and I think that's important. Rock and roll is probably the best way to get young people's attention, but once you get their attention, you’ve got to say something positive. And we do. We say keep pushing, have confidence in yourself. That way, it’s not like we’re just out onstage as a way to make money or gratify our egos." Neal added, "...We can take a few little setbacks – the first 10 years of our career were all setbacks. We didn’t have a really big hit until our 11th album."

Kevin observed. "The biggest difference in the atmosphere of music today...it’s that when we started you could become a regional phenomenon...Nowadays I think that the media is so in your face that the young bands don’t get a chance to be young band and to develop a following in their hometown."

He made the point, "It took us 11 albums before we had a hit. Show me a band now that gets 11 chances to screw it up before they made it. And you know, in today’s atmosphere we would have been long gone....I really think that the world is always evolving in every way musically and every other way. All of us kind of have a nostalgic connection to how it was when we started it and you kind of think, 'Wow that was the best it could be and wouldn’t it be great if it was like that again?'…but I think the reality is that it's not really true. The world's always evolving."

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