Ryland "Ry" Peter Cooder (born on March 15, 1947) is a guitarist especially well known for his slide guitar work. He was born in
Los Angeles, California.
Cooder first attracted attention in the 1960s, playing with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, after previously having worked with
Taj Mahal in The Rising Sons.
He was a guest session guitarist on several Rolling Stones albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Beggar's Banquet and
Let It Bleed. He even turned down an offer to join the Rolling Stones at one point.
Throughout the 1970s, Cooder released a series of Warner Brothers albums that showcased his guitar work, to some degree. In this respect,
Cooder's guitar work on these records is not unlike the guitar playing of Robbie Robertson on the Band's albums: Both virtuosos emphasized
song over solo. Cooder's '70's albums spotlight, more than anything, a wide-ranging taste in music. Cooder has been seen as almost a
musicologist, excavating obscure genres with personalized and sensitive, updated reworkings that, truth be told, often improve on the
revered originals. Cooder's '70s albums (with the conspicuous exception of Jazz) cannot quite be neatly pidgeonholed as each album
showcases distinct genre. But — to generalize broadly — it might be fair to call Cooder's first album blues; Into the Purple Valley,
Boomer's Story, and Paradise and Lunch, folk + blues; Chicken Skin Music and Showtime, a unique melange of
Tex-Mex and Hawaiian; Jazz, 1920s jazz; Bop Till You Drop '50's R&B; and Borderline and Get Rhythm, eclectic
Cooder has worked as a studio musician and has also scored many film soundtracks, of which perhaps the best known is that for the 1984 Wim Wenders
film Paris, Texas. Ry Cooder based this soundtrack on Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)," which he described
as "The most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music." His other film work includes Walter Hill's The Long Riders (1980) and
Southern Comfort (1981).
In recent years, Cooder has played a role in the increased appreciation of traditional Cuban music, due to his collaboration as producer in the
Buena Vista Social Club (1997) recording, which was a worldwide hit. Wim Wenders directed a documentary film of the musicians involved,
Buena Vista Social Club (1999) which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. Cooder worked with Tuvan throat singers for the score to
the 1993 film Geronimo: An American Legend.
Cooder's solo work has been an eclectic mix, taking in dust bowl folk, blues, Tex-Mex, soul, gospel, rock, and almost everything else. He has
collaborated with many important musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Little Feat, the Chieftains, John Lee Hooker, Gabby Pahinui, and Ali
Farka Toure. He formed the Little Village supergroup with Nick Lowe, John Hiatt, and Jim Keltner.
Cooder's 1979 album Bop Till You Drop was the first popular music album to be recorded digitally. It yielded his biggest hit, a Disco/R&B
cover of Elvis Presley's 1960s recording Little Sister.
Cooder is mentioned in one of The Tragically Hip's songs entitled "At the 100th Meridian".
Rolling Stone magazine named Ry Cooder the 8th Greatest Guitarist of All Time in their "100 Greatest Guitarists" list. Immediately behind
Cooder in the list were Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards. Cooder notably taught Keith Richards how to play in the
"open-G" tuning; Richards has used the tuning ever since, including on many of the Stones' greatest songs.
- Rising Sons featuring Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder (recorded 1965/66, released 1992)
- Ry Cooder (January 1971)
- Into the Purple Valley (February 1972)
- Boomer's Story (November 1972)
- Paradise And Lunch (May 1974)
- Chicken Skin Music (1976)
- Showtime (August 1977)
- Jazz (June 1978)
- Bop Till You Drop (August 1979)
- The Long Riders (June 1980)
- Borderline (October 1980)
- The Slide Area (April 1982)
- Paris, Texas (February 1985)
- Music from Alamo Bay (August 1985)
- Blue City (July 1986)
- Crossroads (July 1986)
- Get Rhythm (December 1987)
- Johnny Handsome (October 1989)
- Trespass (January 1993)
- A Meeting By The River (1993)
- Music by Ry Cooder (1995) (2 disc set of film music)
- Buena Vista Social Club (September 1997)
- Mambo Sinuendo (January 2003)
- Chávez Ravine (May 2005)
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