Ridin' The Storm Out

Album: Ridin' The Storm Out (1973)
Charted: 94

Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by the band's guitarist, Gary Richrath. It was inspired by an incident when the band was on tour in Colorado. They were traveling to their next gig when it started snowing, as often happens in the state. As lead singer Kevin Cronin tells it, he and Richrath decided to mess with their tour manager by getting lost on purpose. The snow got heavier, they got really lost, and it turned into a pretty dangerous situation where they had to "ride the storm out." Richrath wrote the song a few days later based on their mishap.
  • REO Speedwagon formed in 1967, but Kevin Cronin didn't join the band until 1972. His first stint didn't last long: He was with them for their 1972 album R.E.O./T.W.O., but left before Ridin' The Storm Out was released a year later (he was part of the band when the song was written). He was replaced by Mike Murphy, who sang the original version of the song, which was the first track, lead single, and title track of the album. It didn't chart, but when Cronin returned to the band in 1977, they released a live version with his vocals on their album Live: You Get What You Play For. This version garnered airplay on rock radio and was released as a single, charting at #94 in America. It became an REO mainstay and one of their most rock-infused hits.
  • The song opens with a Moog synthesizer played by REO keyboard man Neal Doughty. When you're driving, it can be somewhat alarming because it sounds kind of like a siren. Doughty says people have told him that they instinctively threw their pot out the window when it came on.
  • Gary Richrath left the band in 1989 in an acrimonious departure fueled by creative differences with Kevin Cronin. His solo career lasted just one album (in 1992); he fell into ill health and battled alcoholism before his death in 2015 at age 65. On December 4, 2013, Richrath made one last appearance with the band, joining them for "Ridin' The Storm Out" at a benefit concert in Bloomington, Illinois.

    "He seemed to be in a really good place," Kevin Cronin told Songfacts. "I miss Gary. I owe my career to him. Hopefully, he's up there somewhere, because every night when we play, we dedicate "Ridin' the Storm Out" to his memory."

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