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LFO bandmates talk to EW about their fallen friend Rich Cronin: 'He was a fighter'

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LFO

Image Credit: Robb D. Cohen/Retna ltdLast night, news that LFO singer Rich Cronin had died at age 36 from leukemia hit the Web. Now his bandmates, Brad Fischetti, 34, and Devin Lima, 33, are sharing some memories of their fallen friend. “He was one of the funniest people on the planet,” Fischetti tells EW. “Nobody could tell a story like Rich. He used to say, ‘Never let a few facts get in the way of a good story.'”

Fischetti clearly remembers the day he found out Cronin had leukemia. “It was 2005,” he says. “I was walking down the street in St. Augustine, Fla., and his brother called me. I just dropped to the ground right there. I don’t think Rich thought he’d ever be on the stage again. None of us thought we’d ever be on the stage again as LFO. He fought hard, man. He beat leukemia twice. And beat a stroke. He was a fighter.”

After chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and a stroke that left him with severe pain in his leg, Cronin battled back to perform in a reunion tour with LFO last summer. Even though Lima and Fischetti had to tend to Cronin’s physical needs constantly, helping him get dressed before shows and literally carrying him on stage, it’s one of their fondest memories. “He was so happy,” Fischetti says. “We really became soulmates. Devin and I both realized how much we loved him, despite the differences we had in the past. In New York City at the Highline Ballroom, he thanked the crowd at the end of the show. I’ll always have that voice in my mind, because it was such a sincere thank you. Really, that’s the memory that’s sticking out in my brain.”

The last time Fischetti spoke to Cronin was through a text message two weeks ago. From a hospital bed, Cronin told him about how fans were sending him food and well wishes. In turn, Fischetti joked that since Cronin was having trouble walking, he’d schedule a tour because he had no problems performing on stage. “And he didn’t respond,” Fischetti says sadly. “Which I thought was really odd. Then his birthday came a little later. I texted him on his birthday and he didn’t respond. Something didn’t seem right. And here we are a week later and we find out that he’d taken a turn for the worse with his health.”

Fischetti, Lima, and Cronin hoped to tour this December, and the door had even been opened to possibly record another album. It won’t happen anymore, but Fischetti’s pleased with the body of work they have to offer, adding that Cronin was an underrated rapper. “I thought for quite some time that he was one of the best MCs that ever grabbed the mic,” he says. “I don’t think that people realized how great a rapper he was because when he became successful, our music was a mixture of rap and singing and went even further into a rock realm. We got lumped into that [boy band] category and at that time we used to fight it. But these days, I don’t really care. Call us the boy band, the man band, the rock band, whatever.”

“We were very hip-hop,” Lima adds. “Though most people don’t see it as that or say anything about it.”

“I had P. Diddy stop me at a hotel one time and thank me for wearing one of his hats in a video,” Fischetti says. “And we’d have real urban characters at airports stopping us saying ‘Yo, “Summer Girls” was my s—!’ We reached a lot of different people. We’re realizing over the course of the last several years that a song like ‘Summer Girls’ sort of defined summers for a lot of people when they were younger. We’re appreciative of the opportunity to make an impact. We lived extraordinary lives and did extraordinary things. The bond and the memories we created are unbreakable.”

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

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