When news broke last week that Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale had died at age 34, many high-profile names expressed grief and paid tribute to the singer, including Greg Gutfeld, co-host of FOX News Channel’s The Five.
“I’m going to miss him,” Gutfeld said on The Five’s Aug. 26 episode. “Riley Gale: rest and rock in peace.”
Gutfeld, who has garnered a reputation for being Fox News’ in-house music aficionado, has long been a fan of Power Trip. When he played the Dallas thrash metal band’s song “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” on a Dec. 6, 2017, taping, Gale took to Twitter, saying, “Is this a joke?” Gale continued commenting on the matter, tweeting, “CEASE & DESIST” and “let’s get something straight: we wouldn’t be happy about being played on any major ‘news’ network, but most especially Fox.”
Despite this ostensible vitriol, Gutfeld said during his tribute that after sending out the tweets, Gale immediately wanted to speak with him privately, so a two-and-a-half-hour phone call followed.
“I don’t think he was angry at all,” Gutfeld tells the Observer. “We ended up laughing about it, and it wasn’t a big deal, and he was basically joking around. Even though he did slam the network, it was not nearly as serious as people wanted it to be.”
Indeed, Gale was an outspoken progressive, but he was known to have a mischievous and often tongue-in-cheek social media presence. Gutfeld opines that Gale’s “CEASE & DESIST” tweet was sent in the interest of public theater and did not come from a place of anger, even though his political activism and critiques of the media were sincere.
“I don’t even know if he talked about politics, other than issues that we were on the same side [of],” Gutfeld says. “We were doing something that a lot of people don’t do anymore, which is [figuring] out the shared territory, and you move around within that territory, whether it’s decriminalization or police reform or whatever.
“I would say ... two or three times a month, we’d have long conversations, but we’d text almost every other day.”
This fortuitous friendship with Gale was further cemented when Gutfeld met the frontman and his father in Dallas before an August 2018 book signing at the Lincoln Park location of Barnes & Noble. They met at Seasons 52’s Northpark location per Gale’s request for the simple reason that musician (and Frisco resident) King Diamond once told him that he frequents the chain.
“He was so amazed that [Diamond's] favorite bar is in a shopping mall,” Gutfeld remembers.
According to Gutfeld, Gale’s father joined the meeting because he is a frequent FOX News viewer. After the three bonded over drinks at Seasons 52, the Gales accompanied Gutfeld to his book signing, where they hung out and even helped pack up some books at its conclusion. Gale's father has remained a close friend of Gutfeld’s ever since.
Gutfeld even asked Gale’s father for permission to speak about his late son for this interview.
“He DMs me while watching The Five,” Gutfeld says of Gale Sr. “He’s actually sent me some pretty funny jokes that I’ve used on the show.”
After Gale’s death, Gutfeld considered giving his father a Power Trip master recording he purchased on eBay, but was told that Gale would've wanted Gutfeld to keep it. Gale even gave Gutfeld Power Trip merch in the form of guitar picks, coffee mugs and two T-shirts (one of which is a baseball T that now belongs to his wife).
The friendship between Gale and Gutfeld ran so deeply they would often carve out entire afternoons for long phone conversations. Gutfeld recalls one chat in which he commiserated with Gale on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic over a bottle of wine.
“This is a guy that lives to perform. He writes music, and there’s no end in sight [for the pandemic],” he says. “The tour gets canceled, and it’s eating him up. And also, it’s just time. It’s like, you’re alone with yourself for a long time, and sometimes the worst person you can be with is you.”
Gale’s unexpected death has left Gutfeld wishing he could have cherished those moments a bit more. While he was an attentive and emotionally available friend to Gale, Gutfeld contends that grief has made him ponder on how he could have improved on this front.
“When you lose somebody who’s a friend, there’s always that part of you that goes, ‘What could I have done?’”
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