Gary Dean Richrath (October 18, 1949 – September 13, 2015) was an American guitarist, best known as the lead guitarist and a songwriter for the band REO Speedwagon from 1970 until 1989.
Richrath wrote many of the REO’s songs including “Golden Country” from 1972, Ridin’ the Storm Out (1973), “Son of a Poor Man” (1973), “Flying Turkey Trot” (1976), “Only the Strong Survive” (1979) and “Take It On the Run” from 1981. In 1977, he and other members of the band took over production, which resulted in the band’s first platinum album.
Richrath sang several REO Speedwagon songs including “Find My Fortune” (1973), “Wild as the Western Wind” (1974) and “(Only A) Summer Love” (1976). He left REO Speedwagon in 1989, and released a solo album titled Only the Strong Survive in 1992 under the name “Richrath.”
On November 22, 2013, REO and Styx announced a benefit concert titled “Rock to the Rescue” to raise money for the affected families of the tornado in central Illinois. The concert was held on December 4, 2013 in Bloomington, Illinois and produced by Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment. Richrath reunited with REO for a performance of “Ridin’ the Storm Out” to end REO’s set at the sold-out concert. Richrath stayed on stage to help with the encore of “With a Little Help From My Friends” along with REO, Styx, Richard Marx and others. Richrath was originally from the town of East Peoria which was damaged during the storm. Families affected by the storm and first-responders sat near the stage for this special concert and REO reunion.
Richrath died on September 13, 2015; news of his death was confirmed by his former REO Speedwagon bandmate Kevin Cronin. He was 65.