REO Speedwagon’s Gary Richrath 1949-2015 R.I.P.

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)

Helped establish the Illinois classic rock band as a huge hitmaker.

By Fred Mills

If you are of a certain age the music of REO Speedwagon, while perhaps not essential to your life, was certainly part of it over the years. The group was nigh-on ubiquitous on the FM airwaves during the ‘70s and early/mid ‘80s via such sturdy hits as “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and “Take It On the Run.” One key to the band’s success: guitarist and songwriter Gary Richrath, who remained in the band through 1989 to go solo. Sadly, he passed away this weekend, on September 13, at the age of 65. The cause of death has not yet been announced.

The news was announced by vocalist Kevin Cronin, who posted at Facebook:

“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”

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