Happy Mondays bassist Paul Ryder has died, aged 58

Paul Ryder
(Image credit: Paul Husband)

Happy Mondays bassist Paul Ryder passed away at the age of 58 on 15 July. In a tribute to his brother, the band's frontman and fellow founder member Shaun Ryder hailed him as, "A true pioneer and legend. He will be forever missed."

Ryder had been due to play Kubix Festival in Sunderland with the Happy Mondays later in the day. 

Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown was one of the fellow Manchester musicians to pay his respects to the late bassist. “Rest in peace Ryder," he wrote on Twitter. "A great friend, a great musician, a great fella, big love to Amelia, Jacob, Sonny, Chico and the family and band. Love ya longtime Pabs.”

“The grooves I played in the Mondays came from Northern soul and disco," Ryder told us in 2017. "I can’t read music, so I just copied the basslines, but I could never get them spot-on so they turned into my own basslines." 

Though humble about his musical gifts, Ryder's role as one of the great Manchester bands to fuse the dance grooves of the UK rave scene with indie rock is undeniable. He formed the Happy Mondays in Salford in 1980 alongside vocalist Shaun, Gary Whelan (drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Mark Day (guitar). 

The band would sign to Factory Records, releasing their debut album, Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), in 1987. Third album, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, would prove to be a breakthrough in 1990, under the production of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne. 

It went platinum in the UK, featuring top five hits Step On and Kinky Afro. The band went on to headline the Glastonbury Festival the same year but would disband three years later. 

They would reform in numerous incarnations over the years with Paul Ryder returning from 2012 onwards for a successful reunion of the original and most successful lineup that saw the band playing UK festivals. 

Away from the band, Ryder would go on to live in Los Angeles, working as an actor (including a role in 2002 Manchester music scene film 24 Hour Party People), writing music for television, forming the band Big Arm and performing internationally as a DJ.

Ryder was reportedly working on a biography in 2019, but it's not yet known what its current status is. 

Paul Ryder interview 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.