The Spotlight Is On Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
The music of Mitch Ryder was pure rock 'n roll music of the sixites. I had the pleasure of
watching him perform live in the mid 60s. This occasion as were many others was nothing less than
a fond memory. Mitch Ryder was excellent showman and had a great voice for the
rock music he sang. Because of that I decided to feature him as this month's spotlight
Mitch Ryder (born William S. Levise Jr., February 26, 1945, in
Hamtramck, Michigan) and recorded over two dozen albums in more than four decades as a performer.
Ryder is noted for his gruff, wailing singing style, much
influenced by Little Richard, and his dynamic stage performances, influenced by James Brown. As a teen, Ryder sang
backup in a black soul group known as thePeps, but racial animosities interfered with his
continued presence in the group.
Ryder formed his first band -Tempest - when he was in high school, and the
group gained some notoriety playing at a Detroit soul music club called The Village. Ryder next appeared fronting a
band calledBilly Lee & The
Rivieras, which had limited success until they met the
songwriter / record producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe renamed the groupMitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and
they recorded several hit records on his DynoVoice Records label in the mid to late 1960s, most notably
"Devil With A Blue Dress On", their highest-charting single at #4, as well as "Sock it to Me-Baby!", a #6 hit
in 1967, and "Jenny Takes A Ride!", which reached #10 in 1965.
Since the early 1970s, Ryder's musical endeavors have not met with
the same success that they did before. Ryder himself has blamed his lack of subsequent hits on his unsuccessful aim
at the Tom Jones-type cabaret/night club audience just as the counterculture was becoming dominant in 1967 and
1968. His last successful ensemble release was Mitch Ryder's Detroit in 1971, which featured the drummer from the
original Detroit Wheels, then called Detroit. The album saw Ryder moving from his earlier soul music-influenced
sound to a guitar-dominated hard rock sound more in keeping with the early 1970s.
In 1983 Ryder returned to a major label with the John
Mellencamp-produced "Never Kick a Sleeping Dog." The album featured a cover of the Prince song "When You Were
Mine," which was Ryder's last foray into the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Ryder continues to record and tour,
and his influence is felt in the music of such blue collar rock artists as Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Bruce
Winona Ryder took "Ryder" as a stage name, after seeing a Mitch
Ryder album in her father's collection. Actor Stephen Wozniak portrayed Ryder on the controversial season one
finalé of NBC’s acclaimed coming-of-age drama, American Dreams, entitled “City On Fire,” starring Will Estes, Joey
Lawrence and Brittany Snow, which also featured special guest star singer Kelly Rowland of the popular R&B
singing trio,Destiny’s Child.