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Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder

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Also Known As: Ryland Peter Cooder Died:
Born: March 15, 1947 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: musician, composer, arranger, singer, record producer, session guitarist, musicologist, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Long before he had become the musician of choice to score Walter Hill films, as well as a frequent collaborator of German director Wim Wenders, Ry Cooder had established himself as a virtuoso of fretted instruments (i.e., banjo, Mexican tiple, Middle Eastern saz), backing the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones, Randy Newman and Neil Young. Particularly renowned for his blues-flavored slide guitar he allegedly inspired Duane Allman, resulting in the distinctive sound of the early Allman Brothers albums. As much a musicologist as a musician, with interests and expertise that run a wide gamut of musical history and genres, Cooder has sought out and championed such local styles as calypso, Hawaiian "slack-key" guitar (recording with Gabby Pahinui), Tex-Mex, gospel, country, jazz and the bedrock Cuban rhythm 'son', among others, in a diversified series of albums beginning with "Ry Cooder", his 1970 solo debut.

Long before he had become the musician of choice to score Walter Hill films, as well as a frequent collaborator of German director Wim Wenders, Ry Cooder had established himself as a virtuoso of fretted instruments (i.e., banjo, Mexican tiple, Middle Eastern saz), backing the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones, Randy Newman and Neil Young. Particularly renowned for his blues-flavored slide guitar he allegedly inspired Duane Allman, resulting in the distinctive sound of the early Allman Brothers albums. As much a musicologist as a musician, with interests and expertise that run a wide gamut of musical history and genres, Cooder has sought out and championed such local styles as calypso, Hawaiian "slack-key" guitar (recording with Gabby Pahinui), Tex-Mex, gospel, country, jazz and the bedrock Cuban rhythm 'son', among others, in a diversified series of albums beginning with "Ry Cooder", his 1970 solo debut.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Buena Vista Social Club (1998) Himself
3.
 Motion and Emotion (1990) Himself
4.
 Streets Of Fire (1984)
5.
 The Long Riders (1980)
8.
 Farm Aid V (1992)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1950:
Began playing guitar at age three (date approximate)
1951:
Lost his left eye after accidentally sticking a knife in it at age four; began wearing a glass eye (date approximate)
:
Became active in Southern Californian blues and folk circles
1963:
Played in an unsuccessful musical group with vocalist Jackie DeShannon
1966:
Started the Rising Sons with fellow musician and musicologist Taj Mahal
1966:
Became the guitarist for Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band; played on their first album, "Safe As Milk" (released in 1967); abruptly quit the band after touring Europe just before a scheduled appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (thereby forcing the band to cancel)
1967:
Played guitar on Mahal's debut album, "Taj Mahal"
:
Worked as a session player on albums by various artists in the late 1960s, notably with Gordon Lightfoot
:
Performed music for numerous commercials
1968:
First film credit, performed on the soundtrack of "Candy"
1969:
Has claimed to have recorded extensively on the Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed" album though only credited for the mandolin on the song "Love in Vain"; claimed to have provided the main riff for the Stones' "Honky Tonk Women"
1969:
Signed a solo recording contract
1970:
First album as a solo artist, "Ry Cooder"
1970:
Played guitar and dulcimer on soundtrack of "Performance"
1971:
Sat in on the recording of "Little Feat", the debut album of Little Feat
:
Cut down on his session work during the 1970s to concentrate on solo career but did back Randy Newman ("Good Old Boys" and "Sail Away"), Arlo Guthrie and Van Dyke Parks
1978:
Composed and performed the song "Available Space" used in Jack Nicholson's "Goin' South"
1978:
Credited as special music arranger for the song "Hard Workin' Man" in Paul Schrader's "Blue Collar"
1979:
"Bop till You Drop" became the first major-label digitally-recorded album
1980:
First feature credit for music, Walter Hill's "The Long Riders" (also music arranger, music performer); first of many collaborations with writer-director Hill
1982:
TV debut, provided music for "Brooklyn Bridge", a documentary directed by Ken Burns and aired on PBS
1984:
Composed the score for Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas"; first collaboration with the West German filmmaker
1986:
Wrote score for Michelle Manning's "Blue City", produced by Hill
1987:
Credited as song producer and source music producer for a number of Spanish-language songs in Hill's "Extreme Prejudice"
1987:
Composed theme music for the TV cop comedy-drama "Beverly Hills Buntz", a short-lived spin-off from "Hill Street Blues" starring Dennis Franz
1988:
Produced the concert feature "Ry Cooder & the Moula Banda Rhythm Aces: Let's Have a Ball"
1989:
Composed score for "The Man Who Was Death", a Walter Hill-directed installment of the HBO horror anthology series "Tales From the Crypt"
1990:
Appeared as himself in "Motion and Emotion", a documentary on Wenders
1991:
Second collaboration with Wenders, "Until the End of the World"
1992:
Formed the band Little Village with John Hiatt, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner; released debut album on Reprise Records (date approximate)
1995:
Played guitar and performed several songs (including "Over the Rainbow") for "The Wizard of Oz in Concert: The Dream Comes True", a TNT musical special
1996:
Provided the score for Hill's "Last Man Standing", his 10th feature collaboration with the director
1996:
Journeyed to Cuba, where he assembled pre-revolutionary Cuban music greats and recorded their old-school sound which was in danger of dying out; the result was the following year's Grammy-winning "Buena Vista Social Club", on which he also performed
1997:
Teamed with Wenders again for "The End of Violence"
1998:
Scored Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors"; also wrote and performed several songs in film
1999:
Appeared and performed in the film "Buena Vista Social Club", a documentary follow-up to the 1997 album; directed by Wenders
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

On making "Buena Vista Social Club" after African musicians failed to show for the planned project of Afro-Cuban music: "I had a list and Nick (Gold of England's World Circuit record label) had his list of Cuban musicians we'd heard about over the years. I knew Company Segundo was around, who at 92, is the oldest sonero (singer of the son style) and songwriter. Ruben Gonzales (now 80) is the ultimate Cuban piano player, a true master, but people said he was dead or had arthritis. We found him. He had stopped playing and didn't have a piano, but we got him to come down. We didn't set out to work with the oldest musicians, but if you're going to make a great record, you have to have people who have that knowledge." --Ry Cooder, quoted in the BOSTON HERALD, June 17, 1999

"I made records for 35 years, and most of 'em sold four copies. I became an expert on what people didn't want to hear. So I'm a little dumbfounded that this music ("Buena Vista Social Club"), which I think is so much a part of another era, turns out to be something people do want to hear." --Cooder, to Tom Moon of THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, June 13, 1999

About his experience with the Cuban musicians of "Buena Vista Social Club": "When you work with people like that, it's like, This is where the water comes from. This is the headwater. I'm spoiled now. I can't go back to what I used to do." --Cooder, to Steffie Nelson in TIME OUT NEW YORK, June 3-10, 1999

"I saw people in my crew dance whom I've never seen dance before. They're stiff, they're Germans--but the music (of "Buena Vista Social Club") is so alive and spontaneous it completely took them over." --Wim Wenders, quoted in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, July 31, 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Susan Titleman. Artist.

Family close complete family listing

father:
W H Cooder. Accountant.
son:
Joachim Cooder. Percussionist. Born on August 23, 1978; played on "Buena Vista Social Club" album with father and appeared in documentary.

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