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Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

The unsung heart and soul of the Motor City rock & roll scene, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels' blue-eyed R&B attack boasted a gritty passion and incendiary energy matched by few artists on either side of the color line. Born William Levise, Jr. in Hamtramck, Michigan on February 26, 1945, Ryder sang with a local black quartet dubbed the Peps as a teen, but suffered so much racial harassment that he soon left the group to form his own combo, Billy Lee & the Rivieras. While opening for the Dave Clark Five during a 1965 date, the Rivieras came to the notice of producer Bob Crewe, who immediately signed the group and, according to legend, rechristened the singer Mitch Ryder after randomly selecting the name from a phone book. Backed by the peerless Detroit Wheels -- originally guitarists James McCarty and Joe Cubert, bassist Earl Elliot, and drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek -- Ryder reached the Top Ten in early 1966 with "Jenny Take a Ride"; the single, a frenzied combination of Little Richard's "Jenny Jenny" and Chuck Willis' "C.C. Rider," remains one of the quintessential moments in blue-eyed soul, its breathless intensity setting the tone for the remainder of the band's output.

Ryder and the Detroit Wheels returned to the charts weeks later with their reading of "Little Latin Lupe Lu," scoring their biggest hit that autumn with the Top Five smash "Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly." "Sock It to Me Baby!" followed in early 1967, but at Crewe's insistence, Ryder soon split from the rest of the band to mount a solo career; the move proved disastrous -- outside of the Top 30 entry "What Now My Love," the hits quickly and permanently dried up. In 1969, Ryder teamed with Booker T. & the MG's for an LP titled The Detroit-Memphis Experiment before returning home and reuniting with Badanjek in a new seven-piece lineup known simply as Detroit. The group's lone LP, a self-titled effort issued in 1971, remains a minor classic, yielding a major FM radio hit with its cover of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll"; however, the years of performing were taking their toll, and as Ryder began suffering more and more from severe throat problems, he retired from music, relocating to the Denver area in 1973. In time he began writing songs with wife Kimberley, also taking up painting and working on a novel.

Ryder resurfaced in 1978 on his own Seeds and Stems label with How I Spent My Vacation, his first new LP in seven years; Naked But Not Dead appeared a year later, and he continued his prolific output in 1981 with two new efforts, Live Talkies and Got Change for a Million? In 1983 ardent fan John Cougar Mellencamp agreed to produce Ryder's major-label comeback, Never Kick a Sleeping Dog, which generated a minor hit with its cover of the Prince classic "When You Were Mine" but otherwise failed to return the singer to mainstream success, at least at home -- in Europe, and particularly in Germany, he retained a large fan following, releasing In the China Shop on the German label Line in 1986. After satirizing the Iran-Contra debacle with the 1987 single "Good Golly, Ask Ollie," Ryder issued the full-length Red Blood, White Mink the following year; subsequent efforts include 1990's The Beautiful Toulang Sunset, 1992's La Gash, and 1994's Rite of Passage. He continued touring steadily in the years to follow and also worked on an autobiography. Ryder's first new studio album in nearly 30 years, the Don Was-produced The Promise, appeared in 2012. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

James Brown had nothing on this White Soul man!
NSYNC
BAHAMEN
claire2895
Home grown group from my hometown Detroit, Go Mitch & the Detroit Wheels. Good Golly Miss Molly . . . . .
Love you guys god bless you
Detroit s big three ford louis and ryder
Gotta love Mitch Ryder!!!
seen mitch ryder this summer at the rockin the river front on the detroit river and he still rocks the house thanks for the memories mitch god bless you and the boys take care we love ya
otia_rogers
this is the only place where I could find the albums.Thank you Pandora!!
This blue-eyed man can SING!!
THE BADDEST A** BLUE EYED SOUL SINGER OF THE 60S,
THE GODFATHER OF BLUE EYED SOUL,HE PUTS ALL THAT JAMES BROWN PUT INTO THE FUNK,
Detroit Rock & roll shows it's talent once again!
Mitch Ryder's version "What Now My Love" is stunning! Wish I could find it on CD, iTunes, or wherever.
one of the best,when it comes to white soul.
Mitch said he had big knee problems from doing James Brown style Knee Drops.
When he met Brown, Ryder asked how James avoided the problems.
James brown looked at him as if to see a fool and said "I wear knee pads". And so goes Rock n'Roll education 101.
myers45_acp
I saw these guys in 1966 at the Topeka, Kan., municipal auditorium and they tore the place down! They had more drive than is exhibited in this version of "Shake a Tail Feather" -- in fact many bands covered this tune better than is heard here. All the same, when you got Mitch Ryder and friends live in front of people who wanted to rock, the band could more than oblige. I don't know what happened to this band, but they should have a spot in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. They helped bring the wh
Went to school with all the 'Wheels', my li'l brother used Billy's ('Mitch') id to buy beer in Michigan back in The Day. He continues to rock out and just celebrated a major birthday...l i k e me!
mitch still kickin' in the D. Just had a concert in Chelsea this summer. Alive and well.
From what I understand Mitch died penniless and touring the U.S. in a broken down school bus. If that's true, and I believe it is, it shows how important it is to watch your business affairs too. Makes Lars Ulrich look a lot smarter when confronted with the Napster stuff. Just ask Billy Joel or fellow Detroiter, Ted Nugent about bad management.

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