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?

What’s wrong with maturity?

Listening to “Snow” on the iPod got my brain working .The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around a long time. The catalog of  albums show growth as artists and human beings. This is the exception rather than the rule.

Case in point and coming to a hockey rink or basketball arena near you is the “Midwest Rock N’ Roll Express” featuring R.E.O Speedwagon, STYX and Ted Nugent. I don’t know the exact line-up of each band, but I would guess you are going to get Kevin Cronin from R.E.O, Tommy Shaw from STYX and Terrible Ted himself at a minimum. As rock fans we sometimes don’t want the artists to mature and evolve. We want to hear Cat Scratch Fever and Come Sail Away over and over again. “Roll with the Changes” is a great song and I want to hear it in the cave but I’m not sure I want to hear it without Gary Richrath playing it. The original versions of these bands used to fill stadiums and now it takes all three of them to ¾ fill a hockey rink. This is stardom being sent down to the minors to live off the glory days. This is Spinal Tap in real life. The ugly side of nostalgia; there will not be many young people at these shows. You never want to see your heroes eating day old egg salad sandwiches at the bowling alley late at night when once they were gods. But there you go….get your tickets now or wait ‘till next year when you can catch them opening up for a puppet show at the county fair.

Disclaimer:

I am quite aware of the irony of me, a nobody, taking shots at these guys when I am not qualified to scare wildebeests out of the bush so Ted can take a shot with his machine gun and opening for a puppet show at the fair would qualify as my best day of the year!