Loverboy still going strong
In a heated round of word association with a buncha teens-twentysomethings of the ’80s, pairing the terms “red leather pants” and “headbands” will inevitably end in one particular exclamation: Loverboy!
After all, what other Canadian rock album featuring a bright red, leather-clad butt sold 300,000 copies in this country alone? And even that’s barely a fraction of the 14 million copies of the Vancouver group’s first five albums that were moved worldwide.
Vocalist Mike Reno and company (lead guitarist Paul Dean, keyboardist Doug Johnson, drummer Matt Frenette, and late bassist Scott Smith) earned themselves a record six Juno Awards back in 1982, sealing Loverboy’s reputation and elevating them to the ranks of popular, respected bands like Journey and Kansas.
It’s been 25 years since Loverboy’s inception and, with the exception of new bassist Spyder, not a whole lot has changed. The five are hitting hard onstage with all their greatest hits, including such radio staples as Turn Me Loose and Workin’ For the Weekend.
Reno acknowledges the difficulty in transcending the tender nostalgia undoubtedly consuming much of the audience, but feels that 25 years of experience onstage has enabled the band to work the crowd right and thus share their new material.
“We get ’em pretty riled up,” he says. “They’re pretty focused on what we’re playing and we throw (new songs) in at the right time.”
The band still plays over 100 shows a year, and has had the opportunity to visit some really amazing places. For Reno, the culture shock of Japan has proved the coolest. “They treat you like gods,” he explains incredulously, relaying tales of constant gifts, gifts and more gifts. Things onstage are just as bizarre: “They clap for about three seconds and then stop because they don’t want to take up your stage time.”
Ever-charitable and humanitarian, it was five years ago that Loverboy initiated the annual Rockin’ For Research, which raises money for juvenile diabetes – a condition guitarist Dean was diagnosed with at age three. Though Loverboy hasn’t played it every year, they continue to have a hand in things and to date, Rockin’ For Research has raised over a million dollars.
As if that weren’t enough, generous Reno was recently inspired to throw a pair of his trademark red leather pants up on online auction site EBay to raise even more dough for charity. Yes, they were worn, and yes, they sold – for almost $800 US – to a proud new owner, a Loverboy superfan from South Dakota named Kelly. It was Reno’s pleasant surprise; the two are well-acquainted through her unusual vacations. He says, “Every year since I can remember, she’s followed Loverboy around for eight or nine shows.”
At each show she takes photos, gets them developed almost immediately and drops off a folder at the hotel for each band member the next day – such sweet devotion.
But back to that game of word association – Reno is adamant that Loverboy remains famous for more than just headbands and red leather.
He says, “Hopefully they think of high energy rock ‘n’ roll because that’s what we’re known for.”
Loverboy still going strong