WHAT: REO Speedwagon concert
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: John R. Emens Auditorium
Three months after tornadoes ripped through the Midwest, bringing extensive damage to communities in Illinois and Indiana, rock bands are continuing to come to the rescue.
REO Speedwagon will do a one-night only performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday at John R. Emens Auditorium. Ticket sales will go toward communities affected by the disasters in November.
“We’re doing anything we can to help,” Neal Doughty, the band’s keyboardist and founding member, said. “Of course, it’s too big of a thing for any one rock concert with Styx, but we are making sure no one runs out of food right now and helping with the immediate problems.”
Weeks after the tornadoes struck in November, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Larry the Cable Guy and Survivor put on a concert event in Bloomington, Ill., called Rock To The Rescue. They raised more than $400,000 and donated it to Illinois charities supporting victims of the tornadoes.
Gary Manier, the mayor of Washington, Ill., said the EF4 tornado destroyed or damaged almost 1,200 homes.
“REO Speedwagon came to tour our city before performing at the Rock to the Rescue show in Bloomington, and they promised that they would do more [to help],” Mainer said in a press release. “Now, within two months, they are coming back and will be raising more funds for our recovery efforts.”
The band is continuing its Rock To The Rescue tour with a performance at Emens.
The money raised from the concert Friday will go to Midwest Food Bank, Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity, Tazwood Community Services, Toys for Tots and the Washington Community Bank in care of the city of Washington Tornado Relief Fund.
Since the release of its debut album in 1971, REO Speedwagon has produced multiple chart-topping classic rock singles, including “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On The Run.” The band formed in 1967 when Doughty and former drummer Alan Gratzer were students at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill.
“I started in electrical engineering and that’s how I met Gratzer,” Doughty said. “I liked school, but we started getting so busy with the band that we just didn’t have time for class anymore. After a few semesters of that, [the school] told us to either have a rock band or a college degree.”
There have been a few times since that Doughty thought he should have stayed in school, but said REO Speedwagon continued getting better with each album release. The band got its first No. 1 single in 1980 with “Keep On Loving You,” which the band continues to perform at shows today.
“The audience might be surprised at how many songs they actually know when they come to our show,” Doughty said. “We keep the energy level high and still have a lot of fun on stage. We’re going to sound like the record only better.”
Kristi Chambers, Emens marketing assistant, said the auditorium strives to provide entertainment for all demographics and considers bringing performances the Muncie community and Ball State campus will enjoy.
“REO Speedwagon is an event that has a wide range of audiences and was in our budget to be able to offer this concert to Ball State and the surrounding community,” she said. “We are very excited for the wonderful performance REO has in store for us.”
Tickets are still available and cost $28-$58, depending on seat location. To purchase tickets and find more information, contact the box office at 765-285-1539.
For those not able to make Friday’s show, REO Speedwagon will tour this summer with Chicago. The tour will stop Aug. 10 at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Ind. For more information about this event or to purchase tickets, visit LiveNation.com.