What do you do when you’re a rock star with too much downtime because of COVID-19? They do the same thing you and I do… fire up Netflix and catch up on what’s new with Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. I got to chat with founding REO Speedwagon member Neal Doughty. The band comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater July 21. Neal says during the time off tour, he and his wife spent plenty of time watching Tiger King, saying “That’s the best. You can’t make that stuff up!”
Florida was one of REO Speedwagon’s last performances before the pandemic shut concerts down. Neal says that concert at Universal Orlando in March of 2020 feels like “a hundred years ago.” He says during the COVID-19 life, the band still got together and kept in touch with Zoom calls.
Besides Tiger King, Neal and his wife got hooked on The Handmaid’s Tale and Ozark. Sometimes the Doughty family would watch an entire season in one evening. REO Speedwagon even got to appear on one episode of Ozark. They only spent one morning on the set, but Neal says he loved it.
Now that REO Speedwagon is back together and on the road, the TV is turned off. Because the band had so much success with those big power ballads in the 80s, some don’t realize the group has now been together for over 50 years. Doughty says concerts on this tour will include songs from the 70s, which will showcase REO Speedwagon’s rock and roll side that some don’t even know about.
With so many bands from the 70s and 80s touring with only a fraction of the original lineup, I asked how REO Speedwagon has been able to maintain the core members of the group. Neal says everyone is completely happy with their role in the band. “Kevin will be the last person to ever want to stop doing this. There is no plan ever for him to leave the group.” With some newly announced dates and ones to make up after postponements, he says the REO Speedwagon’s Farewell Tour will “probably last about 10 years.”