Ry Cooder

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About Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder is regarded as one of America’s greatest guitar stylists, a distinction he’s earned through classic solo albums as well as groundbreaking collaborations. Born in Los Angeles in 1947, Cooder first turned heads with the rootsy rockers Rising Sons, whose members also included bluesman Taj Mahal and future Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy. With a lean, wiry style and a special gift for slide guitar, he became a ubiquitous L.A. session player in the late ’60s, working with Captain Beefheart, The Rolling Stones, and many others. In 1970, his self-titled debut album kicked off a long string of cult classics combining old-school country, folk, and blues material with contemporary influences. By the ’80s, he had become an in-demand soundtrack composer, creating scores for The Border, Paris, Texas, and more. In the ’90s, his pancultural collaborations with Indian guitarist V. M. Bhatt and Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré on A Meeting By the River and Talking Timbuktu, respectively, helped popularize West African and South Asian sounds in the U.S. But the monolith in that regard is the 1997 Buena Vista Social Club album he oversaw in Havana, featuring an older generation of master Cuban musicians performing classic Cuban material. The Grammy-winning record became an international phenomenon, with intercontinental touring and a Wim Wenders documentary. The mercurial Cooder continued his rootsy explorations on later albums like 2005’s Chávez Ravine and 2018’s The Prodigal Son.

Los Angeles, CA, United States
March 15, 1947
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