Dear REO Speedwagon,
It was almost the Spring of 1981 and I was in the sixth grade and just found out that my father, who was a sergeant in the Army was being rotated to Frankfurt, Germany and away from San Antonio, Texas. I was being forced to move away from my friends and to a foreign country. Needless to say, I was not happy. It was also a time when I had started to really enjoy music. My radio and I were constant companions and I knew every song that was played. Then late one night, a song came on the radio that literally changed my outlook and music and, therefore, life.
Your song “Keep On Loving You” became my mission. I called the radio station every day to request it. I patiently waited for it to be played so I could hit record and have my own copy of it. When I was finally successful, I listened to it for hours, never getting tired of it. I loved the blending of the piano and guitars – and that guitar solo! It was the first one I really paid attention to and I quickly perfected my air guitar version.
Then the packing started. In the midst of all this emotional leaving and fear of moving to a really new place, I discovered albums! Wait a minute! You mean REO has more than one song? I begged and pleaded for my parents to let me buy Hi Infidelity with the money I had been saving. They agreed and this record became my new friend. It sat with me in the back seat (no, my sister could not touch it) as I read and reread the liner notes. The drive from San Antonio to New Jersey (where we had to fly out of to Germany) was long, but, when we stopped to visit friends or relatives, I took the record with me so I could listen to it.
Hi Infidelity became one my most important possessions. I had it memorized and the songs were constantly running through my head. I did not have much experience in the realm of music purchasing, so when you released Good Trouble in 1982, I was surprised: Wait! There is more REO still coming? Then I met some people who worked for my father who had an enormous record collection. My love of music was growing at an extremely fast rate, so I asked if I could look through all of those records. And guess what I found? REO Speedwagon had albums before Hi Infidelity!!! So I went a begging again and bought the entire your catalog and, with great enthusiasm, I worked my way through every song – memorizing and playing air guitar with reckless abandon.
Hi Infidelity filled a hole in my 11-year old life. It open my eyes to the power and joy of rock music. As the years continued to roll by, I continued to buy all of REO’s music. You were my first concert (Offenbach, Germany, 1986- remember that one?). I have seen you nine times since then, and I hope you come near Nebraska again this summer. I can always turn to your music in good times and rougher ones. My four children recognize many of your songs and my wife doesn’t mind you guys too much, either. You opened my eyes and ears to rock music, power ballads, and guitar solos. I cannot say that you are the best band in my collection, but you are my favorite. There is nothing in this letter about sales, chart success, or critical reception. I don’t care. Your music speaks to me and touches my inner most being. It has since I was in the sixth grade and it still does today.