Mitch Ryder Speaks … Part Three

Mitch Ryder will be collaborating with a young Seattle band in the coming months. Depending on the band’s ability, his songs may or may not work. Ryder prefers to work with his own band so he can just give them what he has written and they can play it.

“Once I meet the guys and learn their sensibilities, their musical abilities and so on …” Explains Mitch. “Then I can see what we will do. If – according to their individual talents, they cannot do what I have written, then we will start from scratch. Collaborations are difficult …”

mitch ryder@rockpalast 2004A recent collaboration which took place, was Mitch working with the legendary Don Was as his producer on his recent album – ‘The promise’. Was has worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to The Rolling Stones and while the pair of icons were working together, Was said something to Ryder which kinda floored the legendary singer …

” All the stuff I did with Don Was was my own material. All except one song which I covered by one of my heroes, it was a live version of a  Jimmy Ruffin song.. Don told me that there are two people he would never question in his studio. One was myself and the other was Bob Dylan. That was something I did not understand at all. There is no way I would put my name in the same paragraph as Dylan.”

Speaking of Dylan …

Mitch ran into Rodriguez – the South African wonder who gained a ‘Dylan-esque‘ mystique in the early seventies and disappeared from the music scene following a brief outburst of songwriting brilliance. Ryder ran into him when he was running for city council in Detroit.

Ryder Finds 'The Sugarman'
Ryder Finds ‘The Sugarman’

“This was decades ago …” says Mitch. ” He had already given up the music part and he almost made it but he didn’t. He got the job he wanted as was related in his unauthorized biography. I think it is marvelous he got to cash in on his early years but these things have shelf lives. After a while it will go out of the public consciences. ”

The ‘throwaway society in which we dwell cause concern for Mitch as far as how quick people get hits these days and how fast they disappear. ‘Timeless songs such as ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Hey Jude‘ and ‘Devil with a Blue Dress On‘ – not quite the same as the hits of today.

“It’s possible to have a bonafide hit in one day.” Says Mitch.” I can’t see my Grandchildren singing along to lyrics when they are my age – songs about the evil things you do in bed to someone or using filthy language to describe your Mother. I do not see these as lasting songs. They are hateful, harmful stuff that may have been the truth about someone’s life and it’s cool they got it out of their system – I just don’t see it as a building stone for society.”

The music business can be a building stone for society but at the same time – quite destructive. Ryder has seen everything in his five decades. Drug use and the very bad side of the music business.

2786401157“It is a fun industry to be part of as far as the performance aspect of it but on the business side it is cutthroat and nasty. People have committed suicide over rejection. It is a weird business. People will give up their self-pride, their self-worth over it. Especially in America. They will bend over backwards for their fifteen minutes …”

Mitch Ryder has had more than fifteen minutes of fame in his career. None more pleasing or ‘bordering on embarrassing than when he was Bruce Springsteen’s guest on stage.

“We were having a great time and I got carried away.” Laughs Mitch.” I went in front of Max’s ( Weinberg ) drum kit and I gave the signal for him to bring it down. Slow the beat. Max looked at me like I was crazy! I could tell he was thinking … this is Bruce’s show …What are you doing ?”

Mitch Ryder could have easily said ..

‘ Teaching Max. Just teaching …’

Mitch Ryder is at The Rialto Theater Sept.14th Purchase tickets here!

Check out Mitch’s Site Here!

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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!