"WE ORDERED A BUNCH OF DOM PERIGNON!"
“I don’t know anyone could have foreseen what was going to happen with that record. I guess the stars were lined up. “The first time I played Keep On Loving You on the piano, the guys looked at me like I was from a different planet. ‘What are you, Barry Manilow?’ That’s what the song sounded like at first. But it was a really important song for me, very personal, and I wasn’t about to let go of it.
“I kept playing it over and over, until one day Gary [Richrath, guitarist] plugged in his Les Paul and hit these big chords. Honestly, I think he was just trying to drown me out. But I said: ‘Dude, that’s perfect!’ The song had been a little too sweet. It needed that nasty guitar tone. And that’s when the light bulb went on: ‘Ah, that’s how we do this! Kevin writes a little folk song, Gary trashes it out, and then you got something.’ That’s where it all coalesced for us.
“Take It On The Run was written by Gary, and it has one of the greatest opening lines in rock history: ‘Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you been messin’ around…’ I wish I’d written that! Take It On The Run and Keep On Loving You were pretty much the same story but from different perspectives.
“Keep On Loving You was also the first song where I really exposed my life and my relationship to a certain degree – maybe too much. The chorus is very pretty, but in the verses there’s some nasty stuff in there, man! It was kind of a taboo subject. There are people that use Keep On Loving You as their wedding song. I often think: ‘Hey, did you listen to the verses?’ But what I learned with that song was that the more you expose of your life, the more people will relate to it. That’s what really hit the ball out of the park.
“When Hi Infidelity hit Number One [in February 1981] we were in the midst of a fournight stand at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. To see our album at Number One was mind-boggling. We ordered a bunch of Dom Perignon and just yelled like schoolboys! It was awesome! The days of touring in a Chevrolet station wagon were still fresh in our minds. We had the Number-One record when MTV started out, so that just fuelled the phenomenon even more. We weren’t prepared for the level of success and how quickly our lives changed. But to have the Number One record in America, it was everything that I’d ever hoped for.”
REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin on Hi Infidelity.