Obiturary – Paul Ryder
Music Instrument News is sad to report the passing of Paul Ryder, founder member and bassist of The Happy Mondays. At the time of publication, no cause of death has been confirmed.
The Happy Mondays were an integral part of the Manchester ‘rave’ scene, following their formation in 1980. The original line-up included Paul Ryder and his brother Shaun as the band’s lead vocalist.
The band’s biggest commercial success was their Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches album, released in 1990 and produced by hugely influential dance DJ Paul Oakenfold, and Steve Osborne, the Perfecto production duo.
Musically, The Happy Mondays broke entirely new musical ground by joining jangling indie guitars with the rhythmic driving forces of House music and Northern Soul. That unique sound was firmly embedded in the bass lines created by Paul Ryder.
If you check out Loose Fit from the Pills ‘n’ Thrills album, underneath the somewhat surreally lyrical vocals and top-end guitar figures, you can hear the beautiful bubbling, anchoring bass lines that Paul Ryder adds to the song. His deceptively complex Fender bass sounds may be mixed down in the overall twirling, dreamy sound, but there is no doubt that it is his bass guitar notes that is driving and marshalling the entire sound of the song.
And bass players reflecting on the sad loss of Paul Ryder, should, if they haven’t done so already, make a point of re-listening to the band’s entire output, turning a learning ear to the patterns Ryder created for the band’s unique sound.
Ryder was clearly influenced by funk masters Bootsy Collins and Motown’s James Jamerson, and their approach to the bass guitar as a vital musical instrument, as much as an anchoring essential to any song they played on, shines through in the continually intriguing manner in which Paul Ryder worked his under-rated musicianship on the Monday’s hugely influential and infectious dance grooves.
History will always remember The Happy Mondays for their high-profile hooligan lifestyle which included the ingestion of industrial levels of all manner of pharmaceuticals, which does them a disservice.
Yes, they were proud Manchester working class lads who never had a huge amount of time for the basic rules applying to the career paths of successful pop groups. People are more likely to remember lurid tales of their unfettered narcotic spending habits leading to the downfall of their first record label, Factory Records.
But musicians, and people who care about music, should appreciate that beneath a determinedly unwilling approach to playing the media games that followed their career, Paul Ryder was a hugely underrated musician, whose bass lines were an utterly essential aspect of the sound of the band, whose unique musical approach made them the figureheads of eighties indie dance pop.
Paul Ryder passed away on the day that The Happy Mondays were due to play a festival in Sunderland, and it’s too early to know what the band’s future plans may be, following the loss of their bass guitarist.
But the influence and effect of Paul Ryder’s musicianship is summed up perfectly in the four-word epitaph offered by his brother Shaun – “Long live his funk.”
Music Instrument News extends its sincere sympathies to the Ryder Family, the Happy Mondays, and all friends and associates of Paul Ryder.
Paul Ryder April 224 1964 – 15 July 2022.
The post Obiturary – Paul Ryder appeared first on Music Instrument News.