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REO Speedwagon’s Gary Richrath Dead At 65

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Stereo Embers is sad to report that former REO Speedwagon guitar player Gary Richrath has died.

He was 65.

The cause of death is unknown at this time.

Richrath joined the Illinois band in 1970, three years after their initial inception. Hailing from Peoria, where he was already a popular figure, Richrath brought a new fluidity to the band’s sound and is often credited for their ascension.

Although he left REO Speedwagon after a rift with singer Kevin Cronin back in 1990, in 2013 he surprised everyone by joining the band for a searing take on “Ridin’ The Storm Out” at a benefit show to aid families who lost their homes in a rash of central Illinois tornadoes.

“I feel so sad,” Cronin wrote in a statement about Richrath’s death. “Gary was both a unique guitarist and songwriter, and the embodiment of the tough guy with a heart of gold. 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.”