Richrath – who’d moved into a Los Angeles ranch home with a swimming pool, recording studio, Porsche, two Dalmatians and two black cats – described a much more freewheeling band attitude After the band received a proclamation by Mayor Richard Carver proclaiming REO Speedwagon Day, Richrath said, “We’ve gotten thrown out of a lot of places.

Cronin said Richrath had become jealous and tried too hard to write hit ballads like Cronin, while Richrath said Cronin and REO had grown too soft.

He formed the Gary Richrath Band, which played in 1990 at a Creve Coeur roadhouse – and soon vanished.

Meantime, REO – with no hits since Richrath’s departure – has been up and down on the road. Crowds in Peoria have ranged from 8,000 in 2002 to 800 in 1997.In 2001, Cronin admitted to battling a ghost upon return to Peoria: “T’s a little bittersweetness when we play Peoria, because it brings back memories of Gary for me.

“When I introduced ‘the guy who this band wouldn’t be without’ and Richrath came up for ‘Ridin’ the Storm Out,’ 7,000 people went crazy. The response was arm-hair raising We all felt it.”It was fun to look over to my left and see Richrath digging in and playing like only he can.

Every time, I said, “I wish you could hear Gary Richrath play.

Gary Richrath