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Gary Richrath Memorial – Peoria, IL

written by REO Speedwagon

Hi friends, maybe some bands don’t consider Peoria, Illinois to be a major tour stop…but for REO Speedwagon tonight will definitely be a really big show. East Peoria is the birthplace of the late great Gary Richrath, and home to the iron bench placed on the banks of the Illinois River in his honor and memory. We made a side trip on our way to the Peoria Civic Center, first visiting our friend Dan Fogelberg’s memorial, then across the river to Gary’s. We were greeted there by Kim Weeks, who along with a group of fans from the Richrath Facebook page, sold t-shirts to raise money for the bench. The memorial is simple, sturdy, and off the beaten path…just like the man it honors. I could write a whole book about my adventures with Gary Richrath, (and the memoir I am about to finish does tell the story of our relationship.) But suffice to say, Gary is in our thoughts every night, and he lives on through the amazing music he created. So yeah, tonight will be a special night, and Gary’s spirit will be with us on stage, and filling the entire arena. We will be playing “157 Riverside Ave” for the first time in years, along with other great Richrath regulars such as “Take It On The Run”, “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, “Son of a Poor Man”, and “Golden Country”. Tonight is for Gary…may he continue to Rest In Peace. I miss him terribly…kc

PS. I just had the pleasure of spending some time with Eric Richrath, Gary’s older son, who lives here in Peoria. The resemblance to his Dad is unmistakeable. I have known Eric since he was a child, and always look forward to seeing him when we are in town. Eric tells me he is working on an album of his own, and promised to get me the music when it is ready. Eric sings and plays rhythm guitar in his band…I look forward to hearing his songs, and wish him and his wife the best.