REO Speedwagon back in the 80s.
Back when I was attempting to finish college (unsurprising spoiler alert: I dropped out) I met future long-running rock journalist Ken McIntyre and since hooking up back in Boston in the late 80s, we’ve been close pals (despite losing touch for a while when I ran away from home and landed in Seattle in the late 90s). Penning for Classic Rock Magazine and Metal Hammer for the past decade under the very metal moniker “Sleazegrinder” my heavily tattooed BFF has interviewed pretty much everyone that had a hit record in 1976. McIntyre has pretty much seen it all but nothing could have prepared him for his bizarre interaction with a woman named “Kathy” who was running a Yahoo-based REO Speedwagon Fan Club back in mid-2000s.
So brace yourselves DM readers because when it comes to levels of insanity this email exchange is beyond bat-shit crazy and truly the product of a dangerous mind.
The amusing cover of REO Speedwagon’s 1979 album ‘Nine Lives.’ Former REO guitarist Gary Dean Richrath is pictured front and center.
When McIntyre got the assignment to pull together a feature for Classic Rock on REO Speedwagon (a band responsible for various relentless earwigs back in the 1980s such as “Keep on Loving’ You” and “Take it on the Run”) he reached out to “Kathy” to see if he could get ahold of former REO guitarist (and the writer behind “Take it on the Run”) Gary Dean Richrath to get “his side” of the REO Speedwagon story. What you are about to read is a verbatim transcript of McIntyre’s email correspondence with “Kathy” that quickly spiraled out of control and devolved into a slugfest of epic proportions. So fire up your bong or grab a drink (I’m quite sure it’s noon somewhere) because you’re going to need it. Here we go!
McIntyre: Hi Kathy, I’m wondering if you can help me out…I’m a writer for Classic Rock magazine, and I am working on a feature on the band for the May issue. I’ve spoken to Bruce and Kevin, and I would love to speak to Gary to get his side of the REO story. Do you know how I can reach him? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Kathy: Hi Ken: Sorry, but Gary is a gentleman, and prefers not to respond to Cronin’s slamfests. Glad to see they’re using you to hype the new album. It’s going to need a lot of help, since their last live album, “Arch Allies” sold less than 50,000 copies—with the help of Styx.
McIntyre: Jesus, Kathy. They are not “using me” for anything. It’s an objective story on the history of what, apparently, is your favorite band. Thanks for the jaundiced comments. Wish Gary had the chance to speak for himself.
Kathy: Hi Ken: How many times do you think Gary ‘s been asked these questions over the last 18 years? How many times does he have to get slammed by Kevin before he’s had enough? JESUS is right! I get tired of it myself. You’re telling me that in this interview with KC that has nothing but glowing reports about Gary, and how that offer is still open to re-join the band? When the day after his VH1 interview he threatened to sue them and demanded a re-edit? And told fans the next day that Dave Amato was in the band “forever?” Forward it to me, and I’ll run it by Gary. Until then…. good luck! LOLOLOL!
McIntyre: You obviously have some sort of bizarre agenda. And you can keep it.
Kathy: And you obviously don’t know much about the history of this band. Good luck promoting the UK tour.
McIntyre: Can I just ask, out of curiosity, why you would be so rude to a complete stranger asking for simple information? It seems odd to me.
Kathy: Sorry, but I answered your questions honestly and forthrightly. If you want to be pissed off about not scoring an interview AND throw a tantrum by trying to insult me, that’s seems counter-productive to me.
McIntyre: Kathy - I am not pissed off at all, nor am I throwing a tantrum, I am just trying to figure out why you are being hostile. I have no agenda one way or the other. How would I know whether Gary has been answering the same questions for 18 years? I am not a member of the REO fanclub. It doesn’t matter to me whether I “score an interview”, or not. I certainly get paid the same whether I talk to Gary or I don’t. I was simply trying to get both sides of the story. What is odd is that you are treating me like I am from some enemy camp. And Kathy, that is not answering my questions honestly and forthrightly. Honestly and forthrightly would have been, “Sorry, I choose not to help you with this matter.” That would have been fine. Instead, you chose to be needlessly aggressive. I would really like to know why. What have I done to you, except ask a question?
Kathy: You claim you’re not pissed off, throwing a tantrum, or a member of the fan club. Our records show you just signed up tonight. You’re batting 0-3.
McIntyre: Aye yi yi, I signed up for the Yahoo group for research. And you have no evidence of the other two. I meant ‘fan club’ in the metaphorical sense, which I’m sure you knew. That hardly counts as ‘0-3’. Prior to receiving my assignment for Classic Rock, I had not listened to, or thought about, REO Speedwagon for 20 years. I had no idea Gary left the band or who he even was a week ago. I am from Boston, which is not exactly REO territory. Whether you choose to believe that or not is your business, but it’s the truth. My pen name is “Sleazegrinder”, after all, which certainly doesn’t sound like the sort of person who would normally listen to Midwestern arena rock, does it? I have had to soak up as much info as I can about the band, and the Yahoo group was one tool for that. What I don’t get is why you wouldn’t want to cast a better light on “REO fans”. Are they all like you? I would not feel welcome at an REO show if they were.
I just wish you would act like a real person instead of whatever mawkish persona this is. If you are just trying to ward me off the Richrath trail, congratulations, you have done so. But I would still like to get to the root of your rudeness to me. Do you honestly think I have bad intentions?
Kathy: Gosh, Kevin forgot to tell you about Gary ? Sounds like a riveting interview!
McIntyre: Incredible. What a remarkable horror you are!
Jesus CHRIST. Now I need a drink. And somehow the well-chosen words from McIntyre’s SOL salutation “remarkable horror” barely seem to scratch the surface of this 80’s throwback trainwreck. After pouring through the “REO FANS” site it appears that “Kathy” has moved on to other things, perhaps a job with a cable TV company in which she can use her unprovoked argumentative communication skills to talk customers out of cancelling their service or an operator for a suicide hotline.
H/T: Rock journalist Ken McIntyre