You may have heard me mention on New Jersey 101.5 that the rock band "REO Speedwagon" took their name from a fire truck. HERE is proof in pictures!

The REO Speed Wagon was a light truck, made by the REO Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan. It was one of the better-known companies that made commercial vehicles, prior to World War II (the company fell on hard times in the 1950s and went out of business in the 1970s, "REO" standing for original company president and general manager Ransom E. Olds). The Speed Wagon came as a pickup and panel truck, firetruck (as seen above and below), passenger bus, hearse, and ambulance.


I really enjoyed seeing this 1928 Speed Wagon Firetruck (proudly owned by the Green Knolls Fire Company) at a recent Central Jersey parade!

Now, on to the music: REO Speedwagon founding band member Neal Doughty recalls seeing the name written on a blackboard in his History of Transportation class at the University of Illinois. Doughty later suggested it to his bandmates.

The newly-named hard rock band formed in 1966 in Champaign, Illinois.  It grew in popularity, especially in the midwest, in the 1970s, spawning the rock hits "Ridin' The Storm Out" (1977) and "Roll With The Changes" (1978).

"REO" softened their style, and  became the darlings of the soft-rock world with the release of the "Hi Infidelity" album in 1980. "Keep On Loving You" (#1), "Take It On The Run" (#5), "Don't Let Him Go" (#25) and "In Your Letter" (#20) came from this album, at the high point of the band's popularity. "Keep The Fire Burning" (1982) and "Can't Fight This Feeling" (1985) were also Top-10 hits.

REO Speedwagon's popularity started to wane by the late 1980s. Despite this fact, the band continued to record, but with little notice. Happily, REO Speedwagon tours to this day, riding the nostalgia wave, performing their classic hits of the 1970s and '80s.