The keyboardist and only original member of the rock band REO Speedwagon effortlessly rolled out a series of jokes during a phone interview from his home in Minnesota. Doughty was born on July 29, 1946, in Evansville, Ind. From his dorm room at the University of Illinois in 1967, he formed the band that, several decades later, is still touring the country.
REO Speedwagon -- Doughty, Kevin Cronin (singer and guitar and keyboards), Brian Hitt (drums), Dave Amato (lead guitar) and Bruce Hall -- will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 13 at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. Doughty said while every member of the band is now in their 60s, they are healthier now than in the party-throwing heyday of the '80s.
"We can still walk up and down stairs to get to the stage," he joked.
Later he added, "We're still going quite a ways into the future. There's no one in the band who doesn't want to keep doing this. We'll keep going until one of us just drops and I hope it's not me. We are all very healthy, happy and ready to keep going. Plus, it's not like we're playing football and have to take body shots during our concerts --at least not on our good nights."
REO Speedwagon boasts a slew of sing-along-friendly ballads and rock songs, including "Keep On Loving You," "Take It On The Run," "Time For Me To Fly," "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" and "One Lonely Night," among others.
Doughty reminisced about how the band signed to Epic Records in 1971 and stayed on the label for almost a decade until it produced a major hit --something he says wouldn't happen in today's music industry.
During the late '60s and '70s, REO Speedwagon built up its fan base playing college bars around the Midwest where a "select group of beautiful people would be invited afterwards to keep it going for hours."
After the success of the 1980 album, "Hi Infidelity," the band took off. Parties followed.
"I don't know how we are still alive. We weren't not the No. 1 party band in the world, but we tried to do our part just for the sake of the art form," he said."There's a lot I don’t remember at all and those are probably the best stories."
He quickly touched on the story of a band member -correction, a member of the road crew - who tossed a television out of a hotel room in Japan and nearly got them kicked out of the country. REO Speedwagon has several tour dates throughout the summer, including some with the band Chicago in August.
When the band gears up for another tour, Doughty flies from Minnesota to Los Angeles, Calif., for rehearsals, as he did recently for this last stint on the road.
"I just hate going to Los Angeles for two weeks of rehearsals during a Minnesota winter," he said.
During those practices, the band figures out ways to keep the live show "fresh." They work on a few "surprises and transitions" while also playing the hits their fans expect. The group takes cues from Kevin Cronin, the band's frontman since 1972 and its principle songwriter.
"We still look to him for musical direction. He's kind of the quarterback, you could call it. He's always one to keep it fresh. He's always looking for new ideas," Doughty said.
Everything from the setlist to the production requirements must meet Cronin's standards--an emphasis few of their peers emphasize.
"There are a lot of bands from our heyday in classic rock still making a good living without changing anything. We're just determined not to fall into that rut, although it would be way easier," he said.
Doughty still finds performing live exhilarating, but he could do without the rigors of touring. "The travel will just about kill you. It seems like I'm on a plane every weekend."
He said his attitude toward travel is slowly improving.
"The last tour I only quit the band twice, so that's getting better. There was one a tour a couple years ago where I quit everyday," he said.
During his first couple days back from tour, Doughty said he sits on the couch for two or three days and watches HGTV to get ideas how to spruce up their house or their greenhouse "when we moved some place warmer." When he's not marveling at the dishwasher, he also plays the piano in his living room. "I'm straight and narrow, low profile," he said of being home. "My wife has to force me to have fun."
For a band with Midwest roots, Doughty and company like Michigan crowds. Doughty said they were among the first fans of REO Speedwagon outside of Illinois. He also pointed out Michigan, specifically Lansing, is the birthplace of the REO Motor Car Company, producer of the Speed Wagon, an early version of the pickup truck.
"We're always happy to play in front of a Michigan crowd. It's a high-energy show and you'll hear all the songs you want to hear," Doughty said.
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Attention REO Speedwagon fans,
As a part of a special Rock Megaticket, we will be playing in St.Louis this August (date TBD) with Chicago.
The Rock Megaticket gets you 1 GA lawn or rear reserved ticket to each of these 4 St. Louis shows for just $49.95!
Boston with The Doobie Brothers - June 20th
Sammy Hagar with Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham & Vic Johnson - July 19th
REO Speedwagon and Chicago - August date TBD
ZZ Top & Jeff Beck - August 24th.
Individual tickets for the REO Speedwagon & Chicago show go on sale on April 26 at 10AM. Stay tuned for more information and show date!
Don't miss the band performing on The Queen Latifah show on April 10th, 2014. Actress Felicity Huffman gives a hilarious, candid look inside her household as part of her quest to prove there's no such thing as a "perfect mom." Then, the gorgeous "The Hunger Games" star Alexander Ludwig picks up a guitar and performs the song he wrote just for Queen. Plus, the classic rockers REO Speedwagon perform two of their greatest hits "Keep On Loving You" and "Roll With the Changes."
click here to see performance.
The late 70's and the entirety of the 80's decade can be defined by arena rock and power ballads thanks in large part to bands like REO Speedwagon. Named after the station wagons the band would ride in together to get from gig to gig in its early formation in Champaign, Illinois, REO Speedwagon has stayed true to its touring roots as they continue to play shows across the country to this day.
REO Speedwagon is making a stop in SGF on their latest tour at the Gillioz Theatre June 26, at 7 p.m. The band is most known for their hits such as "Ridin' the Storm Out" and power ballads like "Take it on the Run" and "Keep on Lovin' You."
REO Speedwagon has been fronted by vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972 with one main constant over the decades: a never-ending desire to give their all to their fans, year in and year out.
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