REO Speedwagon guitarist Gary Richrath died Sunday. He was 65.
The news came in a Facebook post from REO lead singer Kevin Cronin.
“My longtime friend and collaborator Gary Richrath passed away earlier today,” Cronin wrote on the band’s official Facebook page. “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
“PS. This photo [shown below] has been on my music room table for as long as I can remember, and will stay there.”
The cause of death was not given.
Richrath joined REO Speedwagon prior to the group’s 1971 debut album. The band didn’t break through until the late Seventies. Richrath contributed to their success not only with his playing but with his songwriting as well. He wrote some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Take It on the Run,” “Ridin’ the Storm Out” and “In Your Letter.”
Though he left the group in 1989, he rejoined in 2013 to perform a benefit concert to aid tornado victims in Bloomington, Illinois.
Below is a video of REO Speedwagon in 1981 performing “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”