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Gary Richrath, REO Speedwagon Guitarist, Dead at 65

Richrath wrote some of the group’s biggest hits but left in 1989 to pursue a solo career

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…kc
PS. This photo has been on my music room table for as long as I can remember, and will stay there.”

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.