(something from 30 years ago this month…)

From January 1990 to July 1991, I was the afternoon drive DJ at an Erie, PA rock station. I got lucky because I was able to interview plenty of headlining acts while I was there. On one such occasion, I interviewed Kevin Cronin, the lead singer of REO Speedwagon.

REO Speedwagon Lead Singer Kevin Cronin

I interviewed him on the phone about a week before they were due to play Gannon University’s Hammermill Center March 21, 1991. (I think I have that interview on reel to reel, but I need to convert it.) It was a nice relaxed interview. I was able to have a nice chat with the lead singer of a band I’d been a fan of since the 1970s. I did see them in concert at the Richfield Coliseum sometime in the 1980s.

One of the greatest thrills as a radio personality was when I was able to introduce them on stage for that Erie show. I hung around with band members and crew from both REO Speedwagon and the opening act Rhythm Corps before the show. But it was after the show I got to witness some music magic.

One of my friends and colleagues I met while in Erie was a huge REO Speedwagon fan. You may even say that Ed Falconer went a little overboard. REO was by far Ed’s favorite band. This Erie show was like the 30th time he had seen them in concert. Not only did he own every single album they ever recorded, he also collected bootleg tapes of concerts.

Ed also had the wherewithal, resources and connections to obtain many of the framed gold and platinum albums given to REO for record sales.

Let me pause here to explain.

The Recording Industry Association of America® certifies recording artists sales in these categories:

Gold® for 500,000 units sold
Platinum® for 1,000,000 units sold
Multi-Platinum® for 2,000,000 units sold
Diamond® for 10,000,000 units sold

Artists are given elaborately framed gold and platinum records to commemorate these sales achievements..

REO released many studio and live recordings. EIGHT went Platinum with Hi Infidelity turning Diamond. Five additional albums went Gold.

Yes, Ed would get his hands on some of these collectors items over the years.

This leads us back to backstage after the REO concert.

I was able to get Ed a pass to chat with members of his favorite band. Ed was a professional and I knew he would not be embarrassing around the band.

Kevin Cronin (left) lead singer of REO Speedwagon talks with Ed Falconer after the show at Gannon University in 1991.

Ed, Kevin and I were sipping on bottles of Budweiser when Ed started a fascinating conversation with Kevin. Now, remember, this is way before the internet.

The dialogue went something like this:

Ed: “I hear REO is going to come out with the second greatest hits album soon.”

Kevin: “Yes. Not a lot of people know that.

Ed: “I also hear that you’re going to use some of your live recordings.”

Kevin, now looking impressed: “Yes. We wanted to sprinkle in a little of our live stuff on this one.”

Ed: “I remember a version of Keep On Loving You from your Honolulu concert last year. You did it in a Reggae style.”

Kevin, now looking even more impressed: “You really are plugged in.”

One of the framed Platinum Albums REO received for Hi Infidelity

Kevin then takes out a business card and hands it to Ed: “You call this number on Monday and tell him about the conversation we just had.”

Obviously, Ed did make that call, because the Reggae version of Keep On Loving You from the January 1989 Honolulu concert was included on The Second Decade of Rock and roll, REO Speedwagon’s SECOND Greatest Hits album.

You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5gITg5xtfY

It was so cool to be part of that conversation, and maybe I had a little hand in making it happen since I DID invite Ed.