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REO Speedwagon still rolling with the changes

Band plays Oct. 3 at Hanover Theatre

REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon

More than 50 years on, REO Speedwagon still can’t fight the feeling.

The group, formed in 1967 in Champaign, Ill., is still a rock ’n’ roll fixture worldwide, celebrating numerous anniversaries each year — including its chart-topping ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which turned 35 this year. And it certainly has a hit-filled catalog to lean on, ranging from rockers such as “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and “Roll With the Changes” to swoon tunes like “Keep on Loving You” and “Take it On the Run.”

And with a memoir in the making, REO frontman Kevin Cronin is looking forward to telling fans more about those songs and the rest of the group’s classic history.

REO Speedwagon plays Hanover Theatre in Worcester on Thursday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m., with Chelmsford’s Charlie Farren opening. A show at Hampton Beach Casino on Friday, Oct. 4, is sold out.

Here are five things you should know about REO Speedwagon before you go.

1. Cronin, 67, says by phone that he’s been working on his autobiography since the end of 2016. “I didn’t plan on writing a book — it just kind of happened by accident, and then once I started, I kinda got into it and really started enjoying the process and have been at it ever since, basically any free moment that I have. I’m on my seventh rewrite now, which may seem like a lot except that I was told Bruce Springsteen did nine rewrites for his book. Once I pass Springsteen, ’cause I know what a perfectionist he is, I think I’ll call it a day, but I’m getting close.”

2. Cronin adds that he plans to do the book entirely himself, without a co-writer or ghost writer. “It’s important to me that it’s my voice. I read the Keith Richards book (“Life”) years ago. That was my first rock biography that I read, and I thought it was great ’cause as I was reading the book, I literally heard Keith Richards’ accent. It was so him … and I really want to be mine like that. If some publishing company says, ‘We’re gonna put the book out but we need to have somebody go in and rewrite it,’ I’ll just say, ‘Nope. No deal. Next.’ I’d rather not release it than have someone else do it and put my name on it. That just feels bogus to me.”

3. Cronin is also thinking about including some music, and possibly some new recordings, as a “companion piece” with the book. “I’ve got demos of most of the REO Speedwagon songs and songs that were never released by REO Speedwagon. I’ve never made a solo album, but I’ve been in the studio working on solo albums a number of times over the years and have never gotten around to releasing them. So I’ve got material. And I’m thinking about maybe even doing some solo acoustic versions of some of the REO hits to kind of show what the songs sounded like when I first wrote them.”

4. As “Can’t Fight the Feeling” turns 35, Cronin has a different perspective on the song than he did back in 1984. “I had no idea at the time how much that song would come to define me, not only as a professional songwriter and as a member of REO. … At the time, I just thought it was a love song, but it’s so much more than that to me. I realized I had spent the greater part of my life fighting my feelings. I grew up Irish. We’re taught to shut up and deal with it if you’ve got a problem, and I was that way for a long. long time. So I’ve learned a lot from that song.”

5. Cronin adds that REO is gearing up for a 40th-anniversary celebration for its diamond-certified “Hi Infidelity” album, which came out in 1980. “We don’t really think about anniversaries because every year’s the anniversary of something when you’ve been around as long as we have. But that’s gonna be a big one for us. We’re already in the planning stages of blowing it out in a big way.”Tickets for the Oct 3 show at Hanover Theatre, with Charlie Farren opening, cost $45-$95 with VIP packages for $195.

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