WCSX Classic Cuts

REO Speedwagon: “Ridin’ the Storm Out”

The Hook: Written after a practical joke on a hike in the Colorado Rockies nearly went awry.

Years: (original version) 1973; (rock radio hit live version) 1977

Albums: (sung by Mike Murphy) Ridin’ the Storm Out; (sung by Kevin Cronin) Live: You Get What You Play For

Writer: Gary Richrath

Stats: A rock radio airplay hit before there was a chart for it, the 1977 live version peaked at number-94 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background: REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin actually wasn’t the singer on the original studio recording of “Ridin’ the Storm Out.” He left the band during sessions for their third album, which was named after the song, and was replaced by Mike Murphy. Cronin, who was around when the song was written, came back and sang the 1977 live version that become a rock radio airplay hit. He tells us it was inspired by a hike in the Colorado Rockies he and guitarist Gary Richrath took when they were playing a club in Boulder.

REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin on writing “Ridin’ the Storm Out” after a hike in the Rockies above Boulder, Colorado that almost went badly wrong. OC:…was written. :22

“Weather came in and It started storming and snowing and it turned into pretty much of a blizzard. So Gary and I thought we’d play a little joke on our tour manager and purposely get lost so he would have to freak out and not be able to find us, right? Well, it turned out we actually did get totally lost and it wasn’t a real dangerous situation but it definitely scared us a little bit, ’cause being from the midwest we’d never seen anything quite like this. And I guess that is where the metaphor came for the tune and a couple of days later, the song was written.”