Richrath wrote many of the REO’s songs including Golden Country, 157 Riverside Avenue, Like You Do, Ridin’ the Storm Out, Son of a Poor Man, Flying Turkey Trot, Only the Strong Survive. Tough Guys, and Take It On the Run. 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, Wild as the Western Wind and (Only A) Summer Love. He left REO Speedwagon in 1989, and released a solo album titled Only the Strong Survive in 1992 under the name “Richrath.”
KEVIN CRONIN (lead vocalist) “Gary was one of those rare, unique guitarists, not unlike his hero Jeff Beck, or Slash (who I always felt had a little Richrath swagger in his playing). It is more than what these guys play, even though that would be plenty, it is how they put it across. Gary could stand alone in the spotlight, in the middle of a hit-filled REO Speedwagon concert, with nothing more than a Les Paul and a coil cord plugged into a Marshall stack, and totally captivate an arena full of people. We saw him do it every night so it was no big deal to us at the time… But, it was a very big deal! “He didn’t dazzle the audience with his virtuosity like Eddie Van Halen. He didn’t play the blues like Clapton. But neither of them could enrapture an audience, include them and entertain them, while exuding raw sensuality through his playing quite like Gary Richrath. He was part Hendrix, part Lennon, with a dash of Dickie Betts for that bit of country flavor.
When you are in the rock trenches with a guy, on the road or in the studio or writing and rehearsing 24/7 like Gary and I were, it’s easy to take someone’s gifts for granted. Singers and lead players are legendary in their competitiveness… It comes with the territory. But, when all is said and done, Gary was the perfect complement—that set of ingredients that my music needed which I could not possibly provide. We fought like brothers and underneath it all, we loved each other like brothers.”
NEAL DOUGHTY (keyboardist and founding member) Gary was the one who took us from being a cover band to playing our own songs. We started thinking if ourselves as a real band, not just an extracurricular activity.”