Gary wanted to rock it up and I don’t blame him because we rocked as good as anybody .” In 1989 Richrath’s battle with alcoholism and his growing musical differences with other band members led to his departure from REO Speedwagon.He subsequently released one solo album, Only the Strong Survive (1992), although he briefly rejoined the group in 2013 for a concert in aid of the residents of central Illinois who had been displaced by heavy storms.REO Speedwagon was to become best known internationally for its saccharine but commercially successful power ballads – the best known of which, Keep on Loving You (1980) and I Can’t Fight This Feeling (1984), both featured Richrath on guitar.When the 21-year-old Richrath had joined the band, however, it was as a guitarist inspired by blues-influenced players like Jeff Beck and he was always best known for his spectacular live performances.
“It wasn’t what he thought was the coolest idea in the world but he contributed to them a lot, honestly.
Lead by their fearless power-stance strumming (fake) substitute teacher Mr.
Schneebly (née Dewey Finn), this rock star class won our hearts over as we learned about the history of rock right alongside them.
In their heyday REO Speedwagon would play to thousands of fans in vast stadiums and Richrath’s guitar slashing was a highlight of every performance.
He was less enthused, however, by REO Speedwagon’s leanings towards more piano-orientated soft rock in the mid-1980s.
He then proceeded to teach himself by listening to his idols, Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds, watching other bands and playing gigs at school dances with a group called Mach Four.