How to end up handcuffed backstage at a REO Speedwagon concert.

The Essential REO Speedwagon
The Essential REO Speedwagon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I need some kind of rock n roll diploma to hang by my computer to justify me as a blogger of rock music; so I will tell this story from 1982.

My taste in music is not always as good as I think- now or in the past

Case in point:

 I once was an REO Speedwagon fanatic.

I am not proud of this but I admit that I may still own the entire REO Speedwagon catalogue. (at least up until the incident in the title)…yes, even those obscure records before Kevin Cronin took over as lead singer-And it gets worse:

I proudly wore a R.E.O belt buckle that I bought at the county fair. Back in the good ol’ days when copyright infringement was not farmed out to Asian countries; we made quality fake stuff right here in the U.S.A!!

While my friends were listening to Pink Floyd and Kiss- I was way ahead of the curve on pure grain-fed Midwestern formula paint by numbers watered down blues. (In my defense- “You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna fish” is not a bad record)

And then R.E.O abandoned their  rock n’ roll roots and became the biggest pop/rock band in America with the release of Hi Infidelity.  

This was the biggest selling rock album in America In 1982.

And that is when I met my heroes in a bar…and ended up in handcuffs backstage at their sold-out show.

And you probably won’t believe this story.

I had connections that got me great seats to concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in N.Y

On my list of shows that year was R.E.O Speedwagon.

I had planned to take a girl friend but that required finding a girl and having her remain in “active girl friend status” at the time of this show- I had two months to make this happen but as an awkward, nerdy and slightly weird young adult- fate was stacked against me- I had great seats and no date a couple days before the show. I sold my tickets to some happy couple for no profit.

Plus the band was a riot of popularity as mega stars and my infatuation with them was rapidly fading. I told myself they had sold-out.

On the night before the show I am sitting in a bar in downtown Saratoga Springs- It is 1am and the bar band is playing- there are maybe 12 of us in there and the owner of said establishment has stopped collecting the 2 dollar cover charge.

Who walks in but Kevin Cronin, Gary Richrath and one other dude from R.E.O (maybe the drummer?- I guess I need help from one of the other eleven in the bar that night to help me remember?)

They walk to the stage and rip into “Johnny Be Good” with a couple members of the bar band- They did play a couple more songs before departing and I remember slapping Kevin Cronin on the back and saying thanks as they walked out (BTW-he does not like that- just in case you get in range)

But how cool is the biggest band on the planet just going back and playing for fun?

I should have left it right there, but:

Night of the show I am hanging outside the gates at the Performing Arts Center because I have no tickets…some go jumping over the fence and I join them to sneak in.

A security guard chases me and I run away—I am fast but the guard is faster and tackles me in a spectacular dive which could have made the top ten on Sports Center. The crowd loved it!

I am handcuffed and put on a golf cart with other criminals to be processed. They do the processing backstage at the show—which is kind of ironic because that is closer than any of us dreamed of getting.

One scary dude handcuffed to a locker and is yelling obscenities and insults at me largely because I am dressed like a geek. I realize 3 things at that moment:

  1. I am a geek and even getting arrested with people does not automatically make me “cool” with those people.
  2. I am going to be calm and make good decisions from this point forward so that I don’t end up going to jail.
  3. Damn, that guard was fast! He must do a 4.1 time on the forty yard dash!

Thankfully- I was issued a ticket and released- It was a 50 dollar fine.

Soon after this I would get seriously in to more underground music.

And 30 years later I would start a blog.

Any questions?

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15 thoughts on “How to end up handcuffed backstage at a REO Speedwagon concert.

    1. It was way backstage and there was no sound except for the dude yelling at me but the ride on the cart was cool and worth about 7 bucks … So I guess I was only down $43 🙂

  1. Reblogged this on "You Jivin' Me, Turkey?" and commented:
    The Title Of This Piece Alone Was Going To Be Enough To Get It A Close Look At Being Reblogged. After Reading The Whole Story, I Was Totally Sold. This Piece Made Me Smile, Something I Haven’t Done A Lot Of, Of Late.
    Very Cool Beans, Indeed. 🙂
    -B.

  2. Great post, and a singular story. Can’t imagine anyone else with a “getting handcuffed at an REO Speedwagon show” tale. I could never get into these guys. I hated Hi Infidelity, and years later when friends told me to check out their earlier material I still couldn’t get past Kevin Cronin’s voice. Talented musicians, decent songs, but a singer I can’t listen to. I think I’d rather be handcuffed to a locker than listen to their records. But if I’m ever in that situation I might change my mind.

    1. As I found out Rich, handcuffed to a locker is one way to experience an REO show- so you can have your cake and eat it too:)…I still think “Roll with the Changes” is a top quality USDA prime rock song but the drop off is steep after that, and thanks for dropping by!

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