No. 27

October 01, 2015

Continuing this year of the many great musicians that we have lost, guitarist Gary Richrath, formerly of Reo Speedwagon, passed away last month leaving a legacy of fans mourning his death. RIchrath died in Bloomington , IL on September 13, 2015. It was first reported by his bandmate and friend Kevin Cronin as a post on the Official REO Speedwagon Facebook page. Cronin posted "Hi friends, kc here. My longtime friend and collaborator Gary Richrath passed away earlier today. I feel so sad. Gary was both a unique guitarist and songwriter, and the embodiment of the tough guy with a heart of gold. I learned most of what I know about being in a rock band from Gary Richrath. The entire REO Family mourns his death and shares in the grief of his family, friends, and fans. These words do not come close to expressing the depth of emotions I am feeling at this time...kc".

Richrath wrote many of the REO's songs including "Golden Country" from 1972, Ridin' the Storm Out (1973), "Son of a Poor Man" (1973), "Flying Turkey Trot" (1976), "Only the Strong Survive" (1979) and "Take It On the Run" from 1981. In 1977, he and other members of the band took over production, which resulted in the band's first platinum album. He left REO Speedwagon in 1989, and released a solo album titled Only the Strong Survive in 1992 under the name "Richrath."

On November 22, 2013, REO and Styx announced a benefit concert titled "Rock to the Rescue" to raise money for the affected families of the tornado in central Illinois. The concert was held on December 4, 2013 in Bloomington, Illinois. Richrath reunited with REO for a performance of "Ridin' the Storm Out" to end REO's set at the sold-out concert. Richrath stayed on stage to help with the encore of "With a Little Help From My Friends" along with REO, Styx, Richard Marx and others. Richrath was originally from the town of East Peoria which was damaged during the storm. Families affected by the storm and first-responders sat near the stage for this special concert and REO reunion.

Gary Richrath leaves behind a notable legacy as a musician well known for his guitar work. Following the announcement of his death by Cronin on Facebook, Facebook user John Q. Citizen commented "REO defined classic rock n roll, and along with Styx were the very first band I can remember being blown away by. My first introduction to Gary's guitar was the "Hi Infidelity" album. The explosion of the power riff at the beginning of "Keep on Loving You," still gives me shivers after so many years, and so many heavier genres of music. Combined with Kevin's lyrical genius, Gary's solos could bring tears to one's eyes in such songs as "I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore," or in heavier tunes like "Roll With The Changes," "Time For Me To Fly," or the live version of "Riding The Storm Out." R.I.P. Gary !" I think that about says it best. One of the very first concerts I attended was that of Reo Speedwagon. The band made an impression on this then young rocker. Richrath's solos were memorable.

No information on the cause of death has yet to be presented. Without judgement, I have to say that photos of Gary show a man who gained considerable weight during life. He was big and surely his health suffered from that. He may have be with us for another decade or more if obesity was not an issue. None the less, Gary Richrath's passing is a shock to fans everyhere, he was well loved, and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace our friend.

Feature Pics

Gary Richrath - the early years.

Gary Richrath in 2015.

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