Do you remember the battle of the REOs?
There was once a speed metal band out of Texas that played music that was loud, aggressive, fast, and definitely not radio friendly. The name of that band was REO Speedealer and they had a strong cult following among metal fans across the country. In 1998, after they had released their third CD under that name, REO Speedealer received a cease-and-desist letter from REO Speedwagon.
As REO Speedealer’s bassist, “Hot” Rod Skelton explained it to MTV, “”They’re worried about our name being close enough to their name that it would be a conflict in stores. I think it’s silly, but there have been a couple of people who supposedly thought they were buying their record and they bought ours. They e-mail us and say, ‘I think your band sucks shit.’ I think that’s hilarious. We consider that a compliment.”
‘In the same MTV story, REO Speedwagon’s manager, John Baruck argued, “We spent 30 years developing the name REO Speedwagon and promoting their career. To have another band come out and take three-quarters of the name didn’t seem right.”
In hindsight, I can see where REO Speedwagon was coming from but a cease-and-desist letter still doesn’t seem like a very “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” thing to do. Of course, just listening to any of REO Speedwagon’s songs will reveal that they were never about any of those things. REO Speedwagon’s music was the epitome of soft rock. While REO Speedealer was performing songs like Double Clutchin’ Finger Fuckin’, REO Speedwagon was best known for Keep on Loving You and Can’t Fight This Feeling.
In 1998, it was easy to cast REO Speedwagon as a bunch of bitter has-beens but, to their credit, their music epitomized an era. Can’t Fight This Feeling is one of the essential songs of the mid-1980s. It was also one of their biggest hits, spending three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. When REO Speedwagon appeared at Live Aid, Can’t Fight This Feeling was the song that they performed.
(Their Live Aid performance was introduced by someone else who epitomized an era, Chevy Chase.)
Two music videos were releases for Can’t Fight This Feeling. One was a simple video that featured the band performing. The second one, which is also the one at the top of this post, began with a baby and ended with an old man and was supposed to be about the life-cycle.
Can’t Fight This Feeling continues to be one of REO Speedwagon’s best known songs. It’s another song that I automatically associate with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It can be heard on Emotion 98.3. It was playing the night that I first drove my car into the ocean and discovered that Tommy Vercetti couldn’t swim.
REO Speedwagon is still together and, this summer, toured with Chicago. REO Speedealer is also still together, though they are now simply known as Speedealer. According to their Facebook page, they should be releasing their new album, Blue Days/Black Knights, in early 2019.