Monday, September 14, 2015

RIP REO's Gary Richrath

Gary Richrath is dead. While he may not have been a household name, he was one of the most underrated guitarists of the rock n’ roll era. Although he wasn’t the front man of REO Speedwagon, his impressive guitar licks always stood out on REO’s numerous LPs. While I met him twice, both were brief encounters and I never had an opportunity to really talk to him except to complement him on his work.

His death yesterday reminded of my own mortality as he is just a few years older than me. And although I have not been active with this blog, this sad news prompted me to attempt to reactivate “Reading Between the Grooves” for the second time this year.

I first heard Richrath’s licks during the fall of 1973 – Greg Rector placed his stereo speakers out the open window of his dorm room at Kentucky Christian College and I heard REO’s “Ridin’ the Storm Out” as it blared across campus. Penned by Richrath, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” is notable for the Moog synthesizer used on the cut, but you’ll also hear some of the greatest guitar work this side of Peoria.

While I featured “Ridin’ the Storm Out” in 2010 with several other REO classics, it was the studio version featuring Michael Murphy. The song was released as a single in 1973, but failed to chart. In 1977, a live version featuring Kevin Cronin was released as a single from “Live: You Get What You Play For.” While the tune charted, its peak at #94 wasn’t spectacular; however, Gary’s guitar work was; if you excuse the pun, its electrifying on this live version.

Gary – we’ll miss you – Keep “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the kind words. Gary WAS under-appreciated and a great guitarist. Us fans already miss him terribly. RIP Gary.