Kevin Cronin, who wrote the lyrics to REO Speedwagon’s classic “Roll With the Changes” on a trash bag, moves on to the printed page. He says an autobiography will likely be ready in 2022.
It’s actually been in the works for a while now; Cronin admits he “accidentally” started writing the book in December 2016, when REO kicked off a UK date series with Status Quo.
REO Speedwagon had already gone through “a long year of touring” before the Status Quo shows, having a “great” summer on the road with Def Leppard. “I was away from home a lot and just sat in my hotel room watching a month’s tour,” Cronin told UCR. “I had a little while – a little anxiety attack.”
Writing is Cronin’s usual response when in this state of mind. “I write how I feel and it helps get the emotion out of my body on paper or the iPad, as the case may be,” he says. “It also gives me a chance to wake up the next day and see how I was feeling. It’s my job, to share my feelings with people, and that helps me too.
A long break from touring followed because of the pandemic, and suddenly Cronin had the makings of the nearly completed memoir, which is tentatively titled Ride with the changes: my life with and without REO Speedwagon. “I’ll say it’s my story, but it’s almost as much [late REO guitarist] The story of Gary Richrath too – and the story of REO Speedwagon, ”Cronin says. “It kind of follows our songs through my life and the history of the band.”
Richrath died at the age of 65 in 2015, after suffer from complications abdominal surgery. “Because Gary is no longer there, I really felt I had to tell his side of the story,” Cronin adds.
The guitarist split from REO Speedwagon in the late ’80s, but Cronin and Richrath reconnected before his death. They even briefly reunited on stage in 2013.
“It still chokes me,” Cronin told UCR just months after Richrath’s death. “I just can’t believe Gary isn’t alive; it just doesn’t make sense to me. Fortunately, over the [past] a few years Gary and I had a very emotional time together. We have seen each other a number of times and were able to put a lot of things on the table that maybe weren’t said. “
Cronin now says he will address their complicated friendship in the next autobiography. “You know, all REO Speedwagon fans, the two questions I get asked the most are, ‘Where do the songs come from? “And I’m trying to explain that in the book,” Cronin told UCR. “The second is, ‘What happened between you and Gary? And that’s too deep a story to just tell in an interview. It really takes a book to put it all in context.
In the meantime, Cronin says he found out something about working on such a long project. “I wrote everything myself; there is no negro. This is my story and my words. It turns out that books are much longer than songs, ”Cronin laughs. “They take a little longer to finish. But I enjoy every step of the way.
Hopefully, the arrival of the memoirs will coincide with a multi-act “grand tour” that is in preparation for 2022. “The other two groups will remain anonymous for now,” Cronin says, “but suffice to say they’re both really great friends of ours. So it’s going to be a lot of fun.