Loverboy's self-titled debut album hit America in July of 1980. Their freshman effort gave pop-loving fans two hits that represented for many the beginning of the '80s sound. "Turn Me Loose" and "The Kid is Hot Tonight" had touches of heavy metal, but added catchy riffs that would make the group one of the most played radio bands of the decade.
Paul Dean was a talented guitarist who was out of a job. He wanted to start his own band, but the time hadn't seemed right, and he stayed busy by touring and recording with Canadian bands like Streetheart. Finally an opportunity arose, and after some soul-searching he called an agent to help him scout out some vocal talent. Michael Rynoski was a local talent who sang and played drums. Dean and Rynoski met and did an experimental collaboration to see how well they worked together. The tryout was successful, and Dean hired him on. After tracking down drummer Matthew Frenette, keyboardist Doug Johnston, and bass-ist Scott Smith, Loverboy was formed.
Dean had a good eye for chemistry and the band gelled quickly. He and Rynoski (who subsequently changed his name to Mike Reno) started working on songs that fit their post-punk radio-friendly tastes. From the start, the music they enjoyed writing was heavily reliant on Reno's scratchy and wide-ranging voice, and made use of catchy refrains and guitar solos.
The 1980s was shaping up to be a great decade for songwriters. Pop music, just emerging from the disco craze, was trying to be rougher around the edges without losing its beat. The members of Loverboy fit the mold perfectly. They were all accomplished musicians with a taste for a guitar-heavy sound and a toe-tapping beat. At first Reno and Dean were turned down by the American record companies they approached, but when they tried CBS, that company's music executives recognized the band's potential for attracting a young female teenage audience.
With an armful of songs ready to go, Loverboy released their first album, the self-titled Loverboy. The album's dynamic vocals by Reno, accompanied by sweeping guitar licks, effectively captured the rock and roll attitude, and the band was noticed right out of the gate. Whenever a big band such as ZZ Top or Kiss was touring in Canada, Loverboy was at the top of the list as an opening act. In the meantime, their debut album had sold 700,000 albums in Canada alone, and was gaining popularity in the huge American market, despite the standard resistance to a Canadian band. Within six months the group went from an opening act to becoming headliners on the Canadian tour scene. Loverboy secured a record number of six Canadian Juno awards in 1982 for Loverboy, including the award for Album of the Year.
Beginning their touring in Canada, Loverboy sold out arenas at a record pace. Their songs "Turn Me Loose" and "The Kid is Hot Tonight" were radio favorites. Their success was so palpable that CBS decided to give the band a shot in the United States, even though Canadian music acts had been notoriously difficult to introduce to their southern neighbors. There was no need to worry. Once again they sold out huge arenas, outdoing the numbers they had posted in Canada. They attracted mostly female teenage audiences, who couldn't get enough of the love-heavy songs and wild boy look that the band had perfected. "We just wanted to wear Armani jackets, leather pants and boots from Sheplers," Reno told the Classic Rock Revisited website. "The only reason I started wearing the headband was because the lights were so hot that I wanted to keep the sweat out of my eyes."
Loverboy recorded an album of new material while on the road. Get Lucky, released in 1981, produced two hits—the blue-collar anthem "Working for the Weekend" and "When It's Over." The album was another huge success, and another big tour ensued. After only two years, Loverboy was becoming the most successful Canadian music act in history.
The group's non-stop touring and recording pace continued in 1983 with the release of a third album, Keep It Up. Two more hits were added to their roster, "Hot Girls in Love" and "Queen of the Broken Hearts." They were building a reputation as superstars, known for their boundless energy and closeness. The band enjoyed working together, and the personality conflicts that usually surface during long tours were nowhere to be seen. However, by the time their second American tour ended, the members were tired and needed a break. They decided to take it easy for awhile and enjoy the lives they had built for themselves. Once given a chance to have some free time, however, all the members opted to work on other musical projects.
For the Record . . .
Members include Mike Reno (born Michael Rynoski), vocals; Paul Dean , guitar; Doug Johnston , keyboards; Scott Smith , bass; Matthew Frenette , drums.
Group formed in Vancouver, Canada, c. 1979; released debut multiplatinum EP Loverboy, 1980; released multiplatinum Get Lucky, 1981; released multiplatinum Keep It Up, 1983; released Lovin' Every Minute of It, 1985; released Wildside, 1987; released greatest hits album Big Ones, 1989; released Temperature's Rising, 1994; VI, 1997; Live Loud and Loose 1982-1986, 2001.
Awards: Juno Awards (Canada), Album of the Year for Loverboy, 1982; Single of the Year for "Turn Me Loose," 1982; Group of the Year, 1982; Composer of the Year, 1982; Producer of the Year, 1982; Recording Engineer of the Year, 1982.
Addresses: Record company— Sony, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022. Management— The Bazel Group, Inc., 115 Penn Warren Dr., Ste. 300-329, Brentwood, TN 37027. Website— Loverboy Official Website: http://www.loverboyband.com.
Their fourth album, Lovin' Every Minute Of It, was released in 1985 to mixed reviews. The title track, a song written by producer Mutt Lange, was the first song on one of their albums not written by the band. Perhaps it was this fact that tipped off the music press that something had changed for the band. The hard sound of the album also seemed to confuse listeners. Still, their fourth effort was a success by almost any standard, going platinum and adding a couple of Top 40 hits to boot. The album was propped up by another tour that made them one of the top-grossing concert acts of the year.
By this time, however, there were signs of frustration in the band. The earlier vacation from touring had given them all opportunities to begin exploring individual avenues of expression. The song writing duo of Dean and Reno decided to bring in some other talent to help them refine the Loverboy sound. A young songwriter named Jon Bon Jovi joined them and penned a hit for their next album, Wildside, titled "Notorious." Even with signs that the magic was ebbing, Loverboy opted to go out on tour to promote Wildside, and pop radio still played their tracks, keeping the sound current.
After the tour, Loverboy did what every other band in its final days tends to do—they released a greatest hits album. Filled with the songs that had made Loverboy so popular in the 1980s, Big Ones was an impressive piece of work, and was a vivid reminder of the song-writing talents of the band. However, Reno and Dean soon declared their intentions to do solo work, and the other band members had begun lining up their own gigs.
During the 1990s there was a growing 1980s nostalgia industry. VH1 was helping to revive bands from the past on its successful Behind the Music series, while 1980s music could be heard in everything from car commercials to video games. The time seemed right for the band to plan a reunion, and after a hastily-planned cancer benefit concert, the band decided to go on tour in Canada. Loverboy also took their show on the road again for a tour of the United States in 1994. Braving a 16-week, 80-gig tour, the band joined acts like Cheap Trick and Eddie Money, as well as headlining their own concerts. While touring, they worked on new materials that became their next album, VI, released in 1997.
Their newfound success was interrupted by tragedy when bass guitarist Scott Smith drowned in a boating accident in November of 2000. Though the band was devastated by the tragedy, they recruited Spider Sinneave of the band Streetheart, and continued to tour, supporting another new release in 2001 titled Live Loud and Loose: 1982-1986, which highlighted the live sound of the band.
The band now seems content to tour occasionally, enjoying themselves on the road with their fans, and taking their age and experience in stride. As for their infamous fashions, "The red leather pants have hibernated to a Hard Rock Café somewhere," Reno told the Manchester, New Hampshire Union Leader. "They're sitting in a glass frame somewhere. I don't wear too much leather."
Loverboy, Columbia, 1980.
Get Lucky, Columbia, 1981.
Keep It Up, Columbia, 1983.
Lovin' Every Minute of It, Columbia, 1985.
Wildside, Columbia, 1987.
Big Ones, Columbia, 1989.
Temperature's Rising, Sony, 1994.
Loverboy Classics, Sony, 1994.
VI, Sony, 1997.
Loverboy: Superhits, Sony, 1997.
Live Loud and Loose: 1982-1986, Sony, 2001.
Edmonton Journal (Alberta, Canada), June 23, 2002.
Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL), September 13, 2002.
Union Leader (Manchester, NH), August 29, 2002.
"Loverboy," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (December 9, 2003).
"Loverboy," Canoe, http://www.canoe.ca (December 3, 2003).
Loverboy Official Website, http://www.loverboyband.com (December 9, 2003).
"Loverboy's Mike Reno," Classic Rock Revisited, http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/ (December 9, 2003).
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