Kevin Cronin is best-known as the lead singer and songwriter for the multi-platinum band REO Speedwagon, but don’t make the mistake of calling him a rock star. Cronin describes himself as a “hard working musician,” who still tours most of the year with REO, but his resume also includes published author, motivational speaker, TV personality and, which he’d insist is the most important of all his roles, husband to wife Lisa and father to four children.
REO Speedwagon, named after the precursor to the light truck, formed in 1967 while its members attended college in Champaign, Illinois, where they were managed by a fellow student named Irving Azoff. A nonstop touring regiment led them to a series of gold and platinum albums and FM radio staples such as “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” and “Roll With The Changes,” setting the stage for 1981’s Hi Infidelity, which sold 10 million albums worldwide, catapulting the catalog to more than 40 million globally. Hi Infidelity spent 16 weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts, featuring massive hit singles such as “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On the Run.”
Kevin Cronin remains the constant in the band, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007, releasing Find Your Own Way Home, its 15th studio album that same year. Over the past five years, REO has stayed active, touring with the likes of Styx, Def Leppard, Pat Benatar, Sammy Hagar, Cheap Trick among others, and most recently, fellow Illinois natives Chicago.
A true renaissance man, Cronin published a Newsweek piece about his oldest son Paris’s journey to recovery from addiction, describing the tough love, hard work and subsequent successful rehab which has led to a new life of sobriety and a rebirth of the father-son bond which both yearned for. Kevin also penned the forward to his longtime friend and collaborator, Survivor lead singer Jim Peterik’s memoir, Through the Eye of the Tiger, where he provides his own observation on the creative process.
Cronin recently appeared as a guest on The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family program with wife Lisa to show that although playing in a rock band is an occupation unlike any other, the pitfalls of touring life can be avoided through moderation and dedication to family.
Kevin’s latest idea is to combine music and talk into a single, hybrid presentation, using his songs to illustrate his life philosophy and vice versa. “My acoustic guitar has been my friend ever since I was 12 years old,” he says. “Music is a great way to get, and keep people’s interest. There’s nothing like a hit song to attract an audience into paying attention to what you’re saying. I believe that’s what makes me unique to the speaker realm.”