Mitch Ryder Speaks … Part Two

“I have two heads, I am growing a set of wings – which means I am headed for heaven … the audience will get a good show …”

William S. Levise, Jr – aka Mitch Ryder, is known for a sense of humor that borders on offending people. Something he says is not intentional and comes from being born in the Midwest.


Ryder was influenced by his father, a musician, and as a teenager he began his musical career singing backup with a Black soul-music group known as the Peps.

Ryder then formed his first band named Tempest when he was in grade school and the group gained some notoriety playing at a Detroit club called The Village. Ryder next appeared as the front man in a band named Billy Lee & The Rivieras. That band evolved into The Detroit Wheels and the rest is history …

” The Wheels have always been interchangeable.” Explains Mitch. “Even when we started we had two substitute wheels in the group. There are only two active members left of the four original wheels. Jimmy (McAllister) is with Atlantic Records playing with Carmine Appice in a band named Cactus. I’m not sure what Johnny (Badanjek) is up to. I recall he was with a band called The Diablos. I guess the Wheels started as an automobile and ended as a bicycle.”


Mitch has written his autobiography with all ‘the dirt’ on The Wheels and the book is in Hollywood with a couple of people interested in making a movie on his life.

“We will see how that goes.” Says Mitch.” I proved to myself that I could write and now I am writing my musical. It has been a fun ride – it’s a lot of work and I need to be totally isolated to be able to write. I don’t want anyone messing with my dream. Life is boundless. It doesn’t stop until it stops. ”

One thing Mitch wishes would stop – is the endless B.S. which goes on in his native land. Ryder has never entered into politics, on a small or big scale but he is very outspoken to what is happening in his country – the U.S.A …

” Education in America is extremely important because our society ( the mitch_ryder_what_nowU.S.) is one of the worst in the world in terms of educating our children.” Says Ryder.”Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce and more than a third of the children in the States are being raised by a single parent. We have our hands full of nothing but problems here as far as raising little kids to be productive and creative citizens to help the country move along.”

He continues …

“Right now, there are more givers than takers here. But the amount of takers are fast outgrowing the givers and once that balance tips in the other direction – you no longer have a country. The biggest threat to our national security is our government and it starts with congress. ” He laughs. ” They talk about the threat to national security and it all sits in Washington. I mean what the hell …”

Ryder admits the internet could play a role in altering Americans distorted image of their government but in the long run – things do not seem to change.

” We had this committee meeting that was broadcast on T.V. and they dragged this secretary of defense along with a general into a room.They had this heavy discussion about bombing Syria which almost everyone is against.” Ryder continues.” Then they show a picture of John McCain playing poker on his iPad. I mean how serious are these assholes? We could send young Americans to be killed and here they are – not even paying attention to what is being said as evidence to that and they are playing poker on iPads? Gimme a break …!”

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Hypocrisy is rampant in America and Ryder is surprised there is no revolution in his country. Given the fact that one out of three Americans own guns – a revolution would be over in a week. In his opinion – everyone would shoot everyone.

” The biggest hypocritical contradiction coming out of this situation …” Explains Ryder.” Is they want to go to war to stop the use of chemical weapons which has killed thousands of children but let’s not worry about the tens of thousands of kids killed by conventional weapons. That’s the message we are getting. Who in their right mind is going to say that’s okay? The point is that children should not be killed period. If they have a uniform on and they want to have a dick measuring contest – that’s up to them. The women and children do not need to be involved in this and yet they have been simplified into this thing we call collateral damage. They find acceptable levels for it. It drives you crazy, it drives you crazy, it drives you crazy …”

One thing that does not drive him crazy is the pride he feels with his own kids. By his own admission, their success has nothing to do with him. Given his choice of profession and his early days of ( ahem) abuse – he was not the Father he should have been. The role of a parent, in his view –  very time consuming and something which must be taken seriously.

Mitch Ryder by Jason Engstrom

” My first son is involved in music.” Ryder explains.” He is a teacher by profession but he plays in a band and likes to keep his chops in order. We have played on stage and that was fun. He is also a writer and has won several awards for his poetry.”

He goes on.

“I was a horrible parent. It is the kind of thing that really needs an investment of your time. It starts in the morning and continues until you put them to bed. Then they get old and have a mind of their own and that’s the last you see of them until you need to go into a nursing home.”

Considering Ryder is poised to work with a young Seattle band – a nursing home seems far away …

Stay Tuned for Part Three …

Tickets for Mitch Ryder at The Rialto Theater Saturday Sept.14th

Visit Mitch’s Site here!

Mitch Ryder Speaks …

Rolling Stone Magazine has cited Mitch Ryder as one of the five most influential rock and roll singers to ever come from
Detroit. How about one of the most influential to come out of the Unites States?


Just ask Bruce Springsteen

“Bruce has said on numerous occasions that I was one of his major influences.” Says Mitch from his home in Detroit. ” I think he was ‘born to run’ regardless of my influence, but it is nice to have such a great performer to acknowledge me like that.”

Mitch Ryder, author of the groundbreaking and in essence, career defining song; ‘Devil with the Blue Dress On‘ – is far from being a forgotten golden oldie touring act. Ryder released his thirty-third record in 2012. An album titled  “Its Killing Me”. Unfortunately –  like most of his post – 1970’s material, that album is huge in Europe and practically ‘out of sound’ in North America.

‘Apparently in America, they only want the things they are familiar with.” Says Mitch.” It’s not so bad in Canada, it is existent yet not as bad. By not securing a recording deal in America, it deprives people from hearing new stuff. It is not the general population’s fault. The audience is totally blameless but my progression continued. There are something like twenty-two CD‘s that America has never heard of. It is a catch 22 …”

Mitch Ryder only has three gold records on his wall. A fact which serves injustice to his songwriting ability. An ability which was egged on by Ryder’s favorite songwriter – Bob Dylan. A lyricist, poet and musician who Ryder to this day – remains in awe of . Ryder is writing a screenplay for his own musical and is implementing ‘a trick’ which Dylan used in his songwriting.


“Most people that go see plays are more intelligent compared to the majority of the population. There are so many nuances in putting on a play. You see something in a play and then you realize that is not what you have seen at all. That’s what Dylan did in his songwriting. Bob Dylan had so much ambiguity in his lyrics, it appealed to all the masses.  It meant something to one part of the population and something quite different to a different segment of the population. It held meaning to all of those groups. That was his genius.”

Ryder’s musical is a current ‘obsession’ which is based on a book he just finished. ” Hide Your Love Away‘ is a title borrowed from The Beatles’ lyrics. It was perfect in Ryder’s eyes for the characters he is creating within his original idea and Ryder believes the time is right. He does not see the point of the current trend which takes someone or a group who have had a lot of hit records and create a flimsy story line around it.

” If I wanted to see that kind of stuff, I could go to see a cover band, read ancol_cd_8637 artist’s biography and obtain the same experience I would get by throwing away my money at a theater. I am looking for something more compelling. Something to keep the audiences in the theater so they walk away humming the melodies if they cannot remember the lyrics.. I’m not sure if I can do this but it is the kind of thing that I will not find out until I find out.”

Ryder has also recently penned his autobiography entitled, “Devils And Blue Dresses”. A book which  is continuing to climb upwards having already won a Gold Medal from the IPPY Awards as well as taking 1st place in their Performing Arts category. It also took 1st place from The Indie Excellence Awards in their Autobiography category, and was a finalist in the Performing Arts category of ForeWord Reviews annual BOTYA.

” The book contains my life. ” Explains Mitch. “Musically and personally. ‘They’ tell me it’s a great book. It’s about my wives and children – people I have met along the way and not just people in the music industry. It is about things that happen in your life, rights of passage, strange events, epiphanies, revelations, abuse, self-destruction, redemption – the whole deal. ”

Ryder’s voyage contains meeting and playing with many legends in the music business. Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to name a couple. The latter – quite the handful on the road according to Mitch. A real character.

It is impossible for Mitch to cite any major influences, the thought alone to come up with such a vast list – too taxing and unworthy to those he may leave off his list of influential artists. When he started with The Detroit Wheels, they just wanted to play music and were astounded to be suddenly meeting musicians who they once held as ‘out of reach’ in their minds.

Mitch Ryder is now ‘one of those guys’ …

Please stay tuned for Part Two where Mitch discusses the hypocritical state of American politics,the general decay of the American infrastructure, drug abuse and music …


To buy tickets for Mitch’s show on Saturday Sept. 14th Click here!

Visit Mitch’s website here !

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