Singer Mike Reno finds inspiration in tragic loss
After nearly 30 years in the music business, Loverboy is Just Getting Started.
You won’t see, however, the trademark butt cheeks clad in red leather or the sweaty pink headbands the Calgary natives (now based in Vancouver) were as famous for as their classic ‘80s anthems. And putting pen to paper again after more than a decade wasn’t easy for Mike Reno.
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The Loverboy front man was mired in a depressed funk over bassist Scott Smith, who died in a 2000 boating accident. Reno got his groove back by writing Stranded, a tune on the group’s latest disc (Just Getting Started) dedicated to his lost friend.
“He was my best pal,” says Reno, now 52. “It was by far the worst thing that happened to me and it took me a long time to come to grips with it. After a while I looked in the mirror and I realized I started feeling sorry for myself. And I thought if he were here right now he’d give me a kick in the butt and say, ‘Let’s go, brother.’”
Back on the horse, then, to get the 40-plus set up and rocking out, or so you might think. The band’s unique kitsch has permeated pop culture and consequently attracted younger audiences; From the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley auditioning for Chippendales to Workin’ For The Weekend — which also appears on the Playstation 2 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City — to Top Gun using Heaven In Your Eyes, you don’t have to pick up a Loverboy album to hear the group’s tracks.
“Everything happens in cycles,” says Reno. “And we seem to be at the top of one cycle where we’re very popular with young fans. I guess I have to attribute that to all the soundtracks we’ve been on. It’s a great time in my life right now.”
Sure, Reno accepts his standards like Turn Me Loose and The Kid Is Hot Tonite are steeped in smirk-drawing, nostalgic fromage. But fans are fans, he says, and if you enjoy it, mission accomplished.
“I think about all that stuff and I say to myself, ‘I’ve done something good with my life. I’ve done something that means something,’” Reno says. “We’ve had such an amazing career. It’s a huge buzz.”