Ryland Peter "Ry" Cooder (born March 15, 1947) is an American musician and composer. He is a multi-instrumentalist, but is known for his slide guitar work, his interest in roots music from the United States, and, more recently, his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries. His solo work has been eclectic, encompassing many genres including Americana, folk, blues, Tex-Mex, soul, gospel, rock, and much more. He has collaborated with many musicians, notably including Captain Beefheart, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Randy Newman, David Lindley, The Chieftains, and The Doobie Brothers. He briefly formed a band named Little Village. Ry Cooder produced the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997), which became a worldwide hit. Wim Wenders directed the documentary film of the same name (1999), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. He was ranked eighth on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". A 2010 ranking by Gibson placed him at number 32.
Links To Peel
In 1967, Ry Cooder was a member of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band and his slide guitar stylings can be clearly heard on Beefheart's Safe As Milk LP, which Peel constantly enthused over on the Perfumed Garden and in his early Top Gear programmes. Cooder soon grew tired of Beefheart's eccentricities, however, and left the band. For a time he played with Taj Mahal, whose early LPs were also heard on Top Gear in 1968-69. He then gained a reputation as a prolific session player, working on the Rolling Stones LPs Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers and on recordings by artists associated with Warner/Reprise Records, including Peel favourites such as Randy Newman and Little Feat.
Cooder also recorded a number of solo albums for Warner/Reprise during the 1970s, and Peel played tracks from them on his programmes. On the show of 12 December 1970, Peel played "My Old Kentucky Home" from Cooder's first LP, and said the track sounded a little like "Kevin Ayers meets Captain Beefheart, which can't be entirely bad." The guitarist also became known for his work on film soundtracks, including Performance (1970), which starred Mick Jagger. "Memo From Turner" from the film was released as a single under Jagger's name, featured Cooder's slide guitar and got at least two plays on Peel's shows,in 1970 . Later, Cooder was reunited with his former bandleader when he and Jack Nitzsche hired Beefheart to sing "Hard Workin' Man" on the soundtrack to the 1978 film Blue Collar, directed by Paul Schrader; this track was also played by Peel. In an interview with Andy Peebles for My Top Ten in 1984, Peel mentioned that Ry Cooder was one of the few early 70's artists that made good records:
- "I keep all of the records in case they come in useful for something. But yes, a lot of the records which I used to play in the early 70s, I can’t really understand now what I used to see in them. But the best of them, the ones that I regarded as being the best, like the Beefheart records or those by Little Feat and bands like that, still sound terrific, or Ry Cooder’s records still sound good. Or other things which I used to play, I think, “That is awful”. The funny thing now is if you listen to Radio Two at all, a lot of them are cropping up on there late at night, you know, most weird."::
Ry Cooder's track 'The Dark End Of The Street' was nominated by Peel at number 42 for his own 1977 Festive Fifty. He also liked Cooder's version of Blind Alfred Reed's "How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live?", returning to it several times in his later shows. Peel paid less attention to Cooder's post-1980 work, however, although its blend of blues, folk and world music made the guitarist a firm favourite of Andy Kershaw.
Festive Fifty Entries
- 1977 Festive Fifty: The Dark End Of The Street #42
- 05 September 1970: Run Away (LP - Performance soundtrack) Warner Bros
- 12 December 1970: Old Kentucky Home (LP - Ry Cooder) Reprise
- 26 December 1970: How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live (LP - Ry Cooder) Reprise
- 25 January 1972: Taxes On The Farmer Feeds Us All (LP – Into The Purple Valley) Reprise
- 28 January 1972: Money Honey (LP - Into The Purple Valley) Reprise
- 07 March 1972: Denomination Blues (LP - Into The Purple Valley) Reprise
- Radio Luxembourg Tracklistings 1: Denomination Blues (LP - Into the Purple Valley) Reprise
- Radio Luxembourg Tracklistings 2: Money Honey (LP - Into The Purple Valley) Reprise
- 04 July 1974: unknown (sourced from David Cavanagh's Good Night & Good Riddance book)
- 27 August 1974: It's All Over Now (LP - Paradise And Lunch) Reprise
- 12 June 1975: Fool For A Cigarette / Feelin' Good (LP - Paradise And Lunch) Reprise
- 21 September 1976: unknown track(s) (LP - Chicken Skin Music)
- 04 January 1977: I Got Mine (LP - Chicken Skin Music) Reprise
- 24 August 1977: unknown
- 30 August 1977: 'How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live (LP-Show Time)' (Warner Bros.)
- 23 December 1977: The Dark End Of The Street (LP – Show Time) Warner FF #42
- 14 February 1979: How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live? (LP-Ry Cooder) Reprise
- 19 July 1979: I Can't Win (LP Bop Til You Drop) Warner Bros
- 23 July 1979: The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (LP – Bop Till You Drop) Warner Bros
- 24 July 1979: Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing (LP – Bop Till You Drop) Warner Bros
- 25 July 1979: Little Sister (album - Bop Until You Drop) Warner Bros. K56691
- 26 July 1979: Unknown
- 02 August 1979: I Can't Win (LP - Bop Till You Drop) Warner Brothers
- 04 August 1979 (BFBS): Look At Granny Run Run (LP - Bop Til You Drop) Warner Brothers
- 06 August 1979: Go Home Girl (LP - Bop Til You Drop) Warner Brothers
- 07 August 1979: Trouble, You Can't Fool Me (LP- Bop Till You Drop) Warner Brothers
- 23 January 1980: Comin' In On A Wing And A Prayer (LP - Boomer's Story) Reprise
- 03 November 1980: 634-5789 (7") Warner Bros
- 07 April 1981: Crow Black Chicken (LP - Boomer's Story) Reprise
- 29 October 1986: Money Honey (LP - Why Don't You Try Me Tonight? The Best Of Ry Cooder) Warner Bros.
- 06 August 1990: Speedo Is Back (LP - Borderline) Warner Bros.
- 10 April 1993 (BFBS): How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? (LP - Ry Cooder) Reprise
- 03 July 2003: 'How Can A Poor Man Stand such Times and Live (LP- Ry Cooder)' (Reprise Records)