OAKLAND, CA -  JULY 4:  Gary Richrath playing with 'REO Speedwagon' performing at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on July 4, 1980. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – JULY 4: Gary Richrath playing with ‘REO Speedwagon’ performing at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on July 4, 1980. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

REO Speedwagon is, in my opinion, one the best classic rock/hard rock outfits of the 70’s and early 80’s. I really enjoyed the Hi Infidelity album when it came out during my freshman year of high school. That is until my younger sister played it so incessantly and so did every radio station in America that I couldn’t listen to it anymore.

See related story: https://heavymetalmessenger.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/hey-sis-feel-the-years-its-the-30th-anniversary-release-of-reo-speedwagons-hi-infidelity/

Reading this morning that Gary Richrath died has me thinking of REO and will have me pulling out Hi Infidelity and other choice records for a listening party/tribute to Mr. Richraths’ contributions to the radio waves and classic rock that will live on in our hearts and minds.

Thank you Gary. May you rest in peace.

Gary Richrath, songwriter and lead guitarist for REO Speedwagon for decades, has died, the band announced on its Facebook page Sunday. He was 65.

The cause of death has not yet been determined.

“Hi friends, kc here,”Guitarist Kevin Cronin wrote. “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…

reo Sppedwagon logo
Richrath joined the rock band in 1970 to replace Steve Scorfina. Other members of the band include Cronin, Dave Amato, Bruce Hall, Neal Doughty and Bryan Hitt.

Richrath recorded 12 albums with the band, and also wrote their 1981 hit “Take It on the Run.” He also sang lead vocals on “Find My Fortune” and “Only a Summer Love.”

The last album the lead guitarist recorded with REO Speedwagon was “Life as We Know it,” released in 1987, and which also marked drummer Alan Gratzer’s last work with the band, who left the group in 1988.

Richrath left REO Speedwagon in 1989 to release on solo album in 1992 titled “Only the Strong Survive.” In 2013, he briefly reunited with the group to play a concert titled “Rock to the Rescue” to aid residents of central Illinois who had their homes damaged by a series of powerful storms.

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