During the big “boy band” craze of the late '90s, early '00s, LFO stood out. Their hip-hop style and inventive, fast wordplay gave them memorable hit singles in a crowded, competitive field. Perhaps the biggest reason for their success was lead singer Rich Cronin, who partially wrote and produced much of the group’s music. Their biggest hit was “Summer Girls”, a nostalgic nod to a summer romance, punctuated with Cronin’s memories of early '90s pop culture. Where else are you going to find a song that mentions Abercrombie & Fitch, Fun Dip, Michael J. Fox, and New Edition, amongst other things? In 1999, it was virtually impossible to find someone under the age of 30 who couldn’t recite the chorus of “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick...,”.
The group had other hits, including “Girl on TV”, “I Don’t Want to Kiss You Goodnight”, and the lesser known, but equally cool “Every Other Time”. I remember I spent much of the summer of 2001 walking around with that song in my head!
After the dissolution of LFO in 2002, Cronin moved on to other endeavors, but faced a menacing setback. In 2005, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, but was in remission a year later. He then created the Rich Cronin Hope Foundation to raise awareness of the disease and worked on a comeback, becoming a part of the VH1 series Mission: Man Band. Afterward, he was one-half of the rap group Loose Cannons and released a 2008 solo album, “Billion Dollar Sound”.
Unfortunately, the man who wrote so vividly about summertime died as this summer comes to close. After receiving a stem cell transplant to combat his re-appearing illness, Rich Cronin died as the result of a stroke on September 8th, 2010. Along with his own songs, I’ll always remember him for the Aaron Carter album track he co-wrote, “To All the Girls”, which, it could be said, was really his message to fans.