You Say It's Your Birthday: REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin

Our man in New Zealand offers another view of the Pistols reunion.

Today is the birthday of REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin,

born in Evanston, Illinois in 1951. The Speedwagon, named after an antique fire

engine, was formed in 1968 in Champaign, Ill., with Cronin taking over on

vocals in 1972. Despite lethargic album sales, the band toured heavily in the

early '70s, often sharing the bill with fellow midwesterners Kansas. In 1977

REO Speedwagon had its first big seller, the platinum You Get What You Play

For, which they followed up with the cleverly titled (ha, ha, ha) You

Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish, which went platinum as well. In

1981 the band produced its most successful album, Hi Infidelity, which

knocked John Lennon's Double Fantasy out of Number One and held the top

spot on the charts for 15 weeks, selling seven million copies and becoming the

band's third platinum album. The rest of the '80s were spent producing more

platinum albums and touring heavily. In 1985 Cronin repaired to a Hawaiian

island to write the ballad "Can't Fight This Feeling," which would become a

million-selling single for the band. In 1988 a compilation retrospective,

The Hits was released, but failed to gain much notice, peaking at #61 on

the U.S. charts. 1990 saw the release of another oddly titled album, The

Earth, A Small Man, His Dog, and A Chicken, featuring Dave Amato of the Ted

Nugent Band and Bryan Hitt of Wang Chung. We can only assume Amato was the

chicken. This year the band returned with an indie release, and a song off it,

"Building the Bridge," was picked to be the official theme song of President

Clinton's re-election campaign. Just in case you're wondering, ATN considers

REO Speedwagon to be one of the worst bands in the history of popular music.

Other contenders? Styx, Journey, Kansas....