Paul Ryder, Happy Mondays bassist, dies aged 58

Guitarist and brother of frontman Shaun hailed as a ‘true pioneer and legend’ by band whose sound was driven by his bass lines

Paul Ryder, the bass guitarist who helped power the hugely popular “baggy” funk sound of the Happy Mondays, has died aged 58.

A message posted on the band’s social media said:

The Ryder family and Happy Mondays band members are deeply saddened and shocked to say that Paul Ryder passed away this morning. A true pioneer and legend. He will be forever missed. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time. Long live his funk x

No cause of death has been made public.

Ryder, whose brother Shaun fronted the group, was a founder member since their formation in 1980 and had rejoined for the group’s most recent reunion in 2012.

The working-class son of a postman and nurse, Ryder was born in Salford in 1964, and was a self-taught guitarist. He said it was only later in his career that he “learned what the different strings were. I’d call them the fat one, the thin one and the one down from the fat one.”

First inspired by Motown artists, Ryder was then drawn to the Chicago house music of the 1980s, saying that his bass lines were “me trying to replicate that style but using a real instrument rather than a computer”.

Ryder played with Happy Mondays for their peak era in the late 1980s, as the group communed with the rave scene of the time while innovating their own brand of psychedelic pop. After minor success with second album Bummed, they had a huge hit with the follow up Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches in 1990, buoyed by the singles Step On and Kinky Afro, which both reached No 5 in the UK singles chart.

Unlike his showman brother, Ryder admitted: “I am embarrassingly shy – that’s why I used to take copious amount of drugs before I went on stage … with Shaun being a Leo and older he was so much more the extrovert, and from what I know he always loved the attention.”

After the notoriously fractious recording of follow-up album Yes Please! – Ryder began to struggle with heroin use – the group split. They reformed in 1999, playing large-scale gigs and recording a comeback cover of Thin Lizzy’s The Boys are Back in Town that reached the UK Top 30, but amid a poor relationship with his brother (“I would have ended up killing myself or killing him”, he later said) Ryder left the group in 2001.

He didn’t rejoin for another reunion in 2004, but returned in 2012 when the original members reformed – the group continued to tour until the present day.

In his years away from the Happy Mondays, Ryder released an album with another group, Big Arm, in 2008 and moved to Los Angeles in the late 00s. He also performed live with the New York funk group Tom Tom Club, whose members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (also of Talking Heads) had produced Yes Please!.

Among those first paying tribute was Manchester DJ Dave Haslam, who said Ryder “made a massive contribution to Happy Mondays and was good company and a top fella”.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Paul Ryder brought funk to Happy Mondays’ debauched carnival of sound
The bass guitarist, who has died aged 58, anchored the Madchester band and gave the listener something to latch on to amid a swirl of psychedelia and rave

Alexis Petridis

16, Jul, 2022 @11:07 AM

Article image
Jack O'Connell to play Happy Mondays' Shaun Ryder in biopic
Jason Isaacs and Maxine Peake in talks to star as Ryder’s parents in Twisting My Melon, based on ‘Madchester’ singer’s autobiography

Tom Knight

06, Sep, 2019 @12:54 PM

Article image
Happy Mondays
More Dadchester than Madchester, the Mondays struggle to induce the lose-yourself euphoria of their bleary years, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

13, May, 2012 @1:08 PM

Happy Mondays, Clapham Common, London

Clapham Common, London

Caroline Sullivan

25, Aug, 2004 @1:09 AM

Article image
CD: Happy Mondays, Bummed

(Rhino - Two CDS)

Alexis Petridis

14, Dec, 2007 @11:41 PM

Happy Mondays, Astoria, London

Astoria, London

Ian Gittins

08, Jun, 2007 @10:12 PM

Article image
Happy Mondays – review
The re-formed Happy Mondays ride again, but to a half-empty hall. What's gone wrong, wonders Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

23, Dec, 2012 @12:07 AM

Article image
Peter Tork, bassist for the Monkees, dies aged 77
Accomplished folk musician and teen star helped move the guitar-pop band beyond their manufactured image

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

21, Feb, 2019 @5:40 PM

Article image
Happy Mondays/Stereo MCs, Clapham Common, London

Clapham Common, London

Ian Gittins

30, Aug, 2005 @9:43 AM

CD: Happy Mondays, Uncle Dysfunktional

After the wilderness years, an eclectic and ambitious return.

Jim Butler

16, Jun, 2007 @11:38 PM