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Back in 1989, with over 20 million albums sold, including six platinium and four gold, REO Speedwagon former lead guitarist and songwriter Gary Richrath had some big shoes to follow: His own.

After writing monster hits for REO Speedwagon such as "Ridin' the Storm Out," and "Take It On the Run," Richrath left to form his own band with a new set of musicians.

When Richrath left REO, it was rumored that the band was breaking up because of extreme personality conflicts among REO's members. Richrath never denied the charges, but prefers to explain it on his own terms.

"I have no horror stories to tell you," he said. But he did admit to crossing swords a few times with lead singer Kevin Cronin.

"We had songwriting conflicts (about) whose songs would go on the albums," Richrath said. But more than conflict led to the demise of the original REO Speedwagon. Richrath saw the band move away from the "rockier" style he prefers to slower, more sentimental ballads -- and Richrath was not ready to slow down.

So he moved on, full speed ahead, and formed a band that was more in touch with his own tastes.

The band played over 1,000 concerts, mostly in small clubs and halls, and Richrath said audiences were eating up the two hour shows -- half REO classics and half new tunes. And the new songs were getting noticed.

"They've been going over great," Richrath said. He's gratified to see a number of people come to more than one show to hear the new songs again, Richrath said, referring to these fans as "Repeat Offenders." Richrath likes the smaller venues, where he says being so close to the fans is productive, and gives him good feedback.

The band continued to tour throughout the 1990's when Richrath headed back into the studio in 1998 to create a new CD that remains unfinished.

Richrath says he was never out to create a new REO Speedwagon. "I wasn't trying to create a new REO," he said, "but just carrying on with what I do."

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  • 581
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Jun 10, 2004
  • English

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