…the parrots begin to jabber

This is what Willis was talking about!

You remember that Cool dude in school that just kind of kept to himself?

Richrath busy being great

Richrath busy being great

Well, he’s gone now.

Gary Richrath passed away a month ago and it’s high time that I quit moping about it and register more than a mention on my Facebook page.  The rule is that when writing about a historical figure or someone you don’t know, the writer is obliged to refer to the subject by their last name.  Well, Mrs. Gonzales, 10th grade English teacher, no dice.  He is ‘Gary’ because of that tone. He is Gary because the singer was in the spotlight and he was happy to be slinging that Les Paul around.  He is Gary to me for the rest of my life because I still hear that gritty tone from Keep Pushin’ through my Walkman headphones while lifting weights in high school, the power meets agility of his solos and his Midwestern, wild hair, blue jean wearing, laid back coolness.

Gary was my first guitar hero.  There were others. I own everything that the Dutch import from Pasadena with the striped red guitar ever recorded but it took a backseat to Gary.  For those uninitiated, here is an earlier mention of the man from years ago.

Growing up in the 80’s, I found myself defending Gary’s music routinely.  “REO Speedwagon isn’t the band of these radio ballads”; I’d say over the sound of the piano intro to ‘Can’t Fight This Feelin” during couples skate at the Moore, OK skating rink.  I didn’t care.  Gary wrote the rockers, man.  Take It On The Run, Follow My Heart, Only The Strong Survive, Ridin’ The Storm Out… You could hear one of his songs a mile away.

I could hear him whenever I got into my brother’s car, whenever I needed a break from the hair metal in my high school days, when I was away in college and wanted to remember being at home in my room and whenever I ran into another guitar player that realized that the sunburst Les Paul was not the sole property of Led Zep and Ace.

This tribute isn’t exhaustive.  It doesn’t even seem fitting.  But one month ago, it became soberingly clear that there will be no new music from Gary. But for the rest of my life, there will be the music of that cool dude that kept to himself all around me.

RIP Gary Richrath < Hit this up around the 3:40 mark to see what all the commotion is about.

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October 14, 2015 - Posted by | Music, These made the man | , ,

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