Gary Richrath – Net Worth, Bio, Wife, Cause Of Death

Gary Richrath (birth name – Gary Dean Richrath), nicknamed – Gar baby, was an American former songwriter and guitarist for the rock band ”REO Speedwagon” from 1970 to 1989.


Richrath was born on October 18, 1949, in Peoria, Illinois, to Eunice and Curtis Richrath.

He had played saxophone in the school band.

At age 15, Richrath received his first acoustic guitar as a gift from his uncle Leroy (who played country-western music).

During an interview, he recalled:

”The first music things that I heard was, oh, Everly Brothers kind of thing and a lot of country guitar.”

Richrath went on to say:

”My uncle was a country guitarist, and he gave me a guitar and said, “Learn how to play this; it’ll keep you from starving,” and I said, “Great!”

In 1967, Gary graduated from East Peoria Community High School.

In 1968, he started to play in a band named – ”Suburban 9 to 5.”

REO Speedwagon

Starting 1970, Richrath was part of the rock band ”REO Speedwagon” as a guitarist and songwriter.

Gary had a distinct guitar playing sound that dominated the REO Speedwagon’s music.

The band was famous for its power ballads – the best-known are I Can’t Fight This Feeling and Keep on Loving You.

REO Speedwagon had also released several successful albums, including “Hi Infidelity,” which sold more than 10 million copies in the US.

Over the course of its career, REO Speedwagon has charted 13 Top 40 hits and has sold over 40 million records.

Gary Richrath biography
Neal Doughty, Gary Richrath, Bruce Hall, Alan Gratzer, and Kevin Cronin (from left to right) – © Guliver / Getty Images

Gary even sang on some of the band’s early hits, including:

  • Take It On the Run;
  • In Your Letter;
  • Only the Strong Survive;
  • Flying Turkey Trot;
  • (Only A) Summer Love;
  • Wild as the Western Wind;
  • Son of a Poor Man;
  • Find My Fortune;
  • Ridin’ the Storm Out;
  • Golden Country.

In 1989, Richrath left the band due to his growing musical differences with other band members as well as alcohol abuse.

REO Speedwagon replaced him with Ted Amato.

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New Band

Gary Richrath Cause Of Death
Image source – © Guliver / Getty Images

After he left REO Speedwagon, he started a new band called – ”Richrath.”

In 1992, the band released the album titled – ”Only the Strong Survive” on GNP Crescendo Records. The album featured Michael Jahnz on vocals.

They toured nationally for several years after ”Only the Strong Survive” was released.

The band had 11 Top Forty hits as well as two No. 1 singles – Can’t Fight This Feeling and Keep on Lovin’ You.

In 2013, Gary rejoined REO Speedwagon for a concert in aid of the residents of Bloomington, Illinois, who had been displaced by heavy storms. During the concert, the families affected by the storm sat near the stage. They raised over $300,000.


Gary Richrath married his wife Justine in 1985.


Gary has a son named Eric.

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Death & Cause Of Death

Richarth died on September 13, 2015, in Louisiana. He was 65 years old. Richrath was under a healthcare professional’s care when he died.

Kevin Cronin, a former bandmate in REO Speedwagon, wrote about the cause of Gary’s death:

“Gary was both a unique guitarist and songwriter, and the embodiment of the tough guy with a heart of gold.”

Cronin later added:

“He had some stomach problem or something, and he went in the hospital to get treated for a stomach ailment, and there were complications and he didn’t make it.”

Neal Doughty, REO Speedwagon founder and keyboardist, stated:

“My bandmates and others have been telling their favorite stories about Gary and here is mine: The last time I saw him, he was happy.”

Doughty continued:

”When we reunited for a benefit concert in 2013, the bad feelings which had surrounded his departure from REO had finally evaporated. We joked around like no time had passed. We were friends again.”

Alan Gratzer, a former REO drummer, said:

“Gary was my musical soulmate and great friend for many years. We made over fifteen albums together and went through a lot both personally and musically.”

Gratzer went on to say:

”I’ll always miss him, but will cherish the memories of being in the studio, being onstage and just living life on the road. I feel like I lost a brother.”

During a later interview, Kevin Cronin said that REO Speedwagon will be:

“dedicating every show we do for the foreseeable future, probably forever, to Gary.”

Cronin continued:

”Every song we play, Gary’s all over it for me; we either wrote it together, produced it together, rehearsed it together, arranged it together, fought over parts that we played.”

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Gary Richrath Net Worth
Image source – © Guliver / Getty Images

In 2015, a petition was started to have Gary inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Gary Richrath – Net Worth

Richrath earned most of his wealth from being part of the rock band REO Speedwagon. After he left REO, Gary made some money from his touring with a band that he started. Therefore, at the time of his death, Gary Richrath had an estimated net worth of $1.1 million.

Featured image source – © Guliver / Getty Images.

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13 thoughts on “Gary Richrath – Net Worth, Bio, Wife, Cause Of Death”

  1. It’s not everyday that you are blessed in meeting your favorite guitar musician. I loved playing guitar at a young age and just couldn’t discipline myself to go all the way with it. All I wanted to do was play the guitar like Gary Richrath. He taught me how to play Take It On the Run. Eventually, I realized I was never going to be the next Lita Ford. Although we didn’t spend a lot of time together we did have a connection over the years and I’ve truly been blessed to have had the opportunity to share some great conversations, love of music and special times with a great bunch of people. From the late 70’s giving haircuts on the busses to bringing my homemade pasta sauce and dropping off the first MTV recording in the mail there’s so many great memories. Forty years later there’s still not a moment that goes by without feeling the presence of a strong commitment this band has for one another and all their fans. There will never be another Gary Richrath but the legacy lives on forever in our hearts ♥️ 🎶💫

    • @Rachel Bruzee, I have seen him and the band play for years. I did see him when he went on his own. My opinion is he wanted heavier stuff. But no matter what he will be missed. A true rock star.

  2. I’m 65, I’ve been listening to R&R for about 55 years. Every shape and form. From am radio to fm. I’m also from il., south of Peoria, about 3 miles east of Alton. KXOK for am, on to KSHE 95, and this fantastic journey through R&R has driven me ever since. In other words, I’ve been around long enough that the bands my daughter likes, i’ve heard their music before. I am always searching for more good music. If it’s good enough it goes in my library. I am not easily impressed. The main point I’m trying to get to is, I’ve listened to a tremendous amount of bands and musicians. My absolute no. 1 and 2 favorite guitarists are Allen Collins and Gary Richrath or Gary Richrath and Allen Collins, however you prefer. Collins received his recognition, it was very well deserved indeed. However, I have never felt like Gary has ever received his due recognition. It is also well deserved.

    • I think we lived dual lives! I’m from Edwardsville and listened to the same radio stations. Love REO and Gary. As far as I’m concerned, Gary was REO. I agree he has not received the recognition he deserves. I still go to see REO from time to time, but it’s just not the same. Nostalgia is tough to ignore.

  3. I played in several bands around Champaign IL and remember
    REO and the music scene back in the day quite well. I even played with Gary one night at the Red Lion Inn. My girlfriend and childhood sweetheart had a long fling with REO’s manager after we broke up. So sorry to hear about Gary’s passing!

  4. I think Gary is the most under rated Guitar player of my era. I’m 55 & remember 157 Riverside Avenue when they did it live. Still chills me to the bone listening to Gary play!

  5. Five years to the day, and decades after the rise of REO, we still listen to Gary all the time. One of the greats, onstage and on record.

  6. One of the best concerts I’ve ever attended in 1974 it still sticks in my mind Gary Richrath seemed to get his guitar sound like it was singing to you

  7. He did things I’d equate with Clapton or Gilmore or even Gibbons
    I never heard anyone quite emulate his style or technique

  8. Being in my early 60s and growing up in what I consider one of the best times for Rock and Roll.
    Remember Don kirshner’s Rock concert, The Midnight Special, Wolfman Jack and WIFF radio with Captain Starlight?
    I can remember seeing REO on television back in the early 70s and then going out and buying my first ever album T.W.O. with my allowance. After that more of their albums and concerts followed. Being from northern Indiana it seemed that everyone loved them and there was always REO playing at about every party. What always caught my attention was the way that Gary could shred that guitar like no other, and with such ease.
    Gary Richrath imo should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
    Gary may be gone, but he touched so many lives in a good way, that I can see him sitting with the big guy, and him saying you finish the race well son. Keep On Rockin


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