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Paul Ryder, Happy Mondays bassist and co-founder, dies at 58

Paul Ryder of Happy Mondays performs on stage at O2 Academy Glasgow on November 15, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland
(Image credit: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns)

Paul Ryder, the co-founder and longtime bassist for legendary British alt-rock band Happy Mondays, has died at the age of 58, the band confirmed (opens in new tab) today (July 15).

"The Ryder family and Happy Mondays band members are deeply saddened and shocked to say that Paul Ryder passed away this morning," the band wrote (opens in new tab) in a statement on social media.

"A true pioneer and legend. He will be forever missed. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time," the statement continued. "Long live his funk." No cause of death was given.

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Born in Salford, England in 1964, Paul Ryder took up (opens in new tab) the bass at 13, and formed the Happy Mondays with his brother Shaun (who served as the band's dynamic frontman), guitarist Mark Day, drummer Gary Whelan, keyboardist Paul Davis and dancer/percussionist Mark "Bez" Berry in the early '80s.

Like their Manchester area contemporaries the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays mixed the tunefulness of British Invasion era pop-rock with the flower-power optimism of psychedelic rock, and the infectious, open-ended grooves of dance music.

Usually using (opens in new tab) a Fender Jazz bass, Paul Ryder supplied much of the band's exceedingly club-friendly low-end, which helped give the band a massive crossover audience.

Happy Mondays reached their commercial zenith in 1990 with their third album, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches. Propelled by the hit single Step On, the album went platinum (opens in new tab) in the U.K., and helped spread what came to be known as the "Madchester" sound – that same blend of dance rhythms and tie-dye psychedelic pop-rock hooks – across that country and, eventually, the rest of the world.   

An integral member of Happy Mondays throughout their original run, Paul Ryder participated in the band's 1999 reunion, before subsequently departing (opens in new tab) the band in 2000.

He would, however, re-join when the band reunited once more in 2012 – with their original lineup – and remain with them up until his death.

"I kind of liked it all," Ryder (then out of the band) said (opens in new tab) of his time with Happy Mondays in 2011. "I liked writing, I liked rehearsing, I liked being in the studio and I liked all the traveling – doing all the shows all around the world. It’s the perfect job for me – or should I say a well-paid hobby, not actually work."

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Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.