…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 | , , | Leave a comment

My name is Thefullbug and I love REO Speedwagon

reo

That felt good and it needed to happen a long time ago.  But why now?  Must have been last Wednesday.  I roll up to work rocking some REO loud enough to be heard and pull into the space in front of a guy that is well, (thinking about how to describe him) terribly, terribly, terribly gay.  I see this dude all the time.  Some small talk in the break room about his cool car, talk about what he does at the office… You know.  But on Wednesday, he gave me the “dude nod”.  As to say, I know you listen to REO Speedwagon.  It’s not your choice, really.  You were born that way. 

So, before this thing gets so far out of hand that when people talk about REO Speedwagon fans they add the disclaimer; “not that there’s anything wrong with that”, I need to set a few things straight. 

  • This band of love song singing, adult contemporary radio staples started out with long hair and sang about being anti-establishment hippies in the very early ’70’s.  I mean, they were a rock and roll band!
  • They had one of the cool band logos that rocked a set of wings a la Aerosmith and Queen
  • Aside from writing some of their great songs, founding member, Gary Richrath could straight up play a Les Paul!  Just listen to him.  here, here, and here <– Great example here. Start around the 1:50 mark.
  • Bruce Hall (and before him) Greg Philbin are great bass players.  Steven Bush, quit laughing at me and check it. –> (here)
  • When Kevin Cronin was firmly in the frontman seat by album three, they were already an excellent bluesy Midwestern hard rock band.  He brought that piano/guitar ballads and they started getting commercial success.  As drummer, Alan Gratzer put it; “We started doing wedding songs.”
  •  Last point?  Everyone I know that has made fun of me for being an REO fan is wrong.  Astonishing, I know.  But true.  Every one of you. 

From inside thefullbug's wallet. 1996 OKC's Zoo Amphitheatre

You may now all go about your business of calling me a fag.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | 2 Comments