Ry Cooder launched a successful solo recording career in the early 1970s, with a string of well-received albums featuring his unique blues-flavored slide guitar. Over the years he has delved into such diverse influences as Gospel, Hawaiian slack-key, and Tex-Mex.
As a session guitarist, Cooder has worked with The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Randy Newman, Van Morrison, and Johnny Cash. Cooder composed his first score for The Long Riders in 1980, followed by films like Southern Comfort, The Border, Streets of Fire, Crossroads, and the widely lauded Paris, Texas. In 1992, Cooder worked with Walter Hill on the gritty urban drama Trespass before re-teaming with Hill in 1993 for Geronimo: An American Legend and again in 1996 for Last Man Standing, starring Bruce Willis. Tim Robbins recruited Cooder to produce tracks with Eddie Vedder and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and with Johnny Cash for the critically acclaimed Dead Man Walking.
Cooder has always been something of a musical traveler, having devoted most of his career to an exploration of different areas and aspects of music. This is especially evident on albums like Paradise & Lunch, Bop Till You Drop, and Borderline.
Cooder remains one of today's most intriguing recording artists. In 1990, he joined John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, and Jim Keltner in the band Little Village, and later released the Grammy Award-winning Meeting by the River, a duo album with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, a virtuoso guitarist from the North Indian state of Rajastan. In 1995, he won a second World Music Album Grammy for his recording Talking Timbuktu, with Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure. He has since released his "California trilogy" of albums for Nonesuch Records: Chavez Ravine (2005), My Name Is Buddy (2007), and I, Flathead (2008).
"It's nice to have one thing feed into the other," says Cooder of his diverse career. "I do one project here and apply it over there. It's all a great education."
Compay Segundo (1907-2003)
Ninety years young at the release of Buena Vista Social Club, Compay Segundo was the ultimate living legend, a vital link with Cuba's musical history and still making music full of passion, wit, and energy.
He was born Francisco Repilado in Siboney, Cuba, on the mountainous east side of the island and grew up in Santiago, the cradle of son. By the 1920s, he was already a fine guitar and tres player and would work in the tobacco fields and as a barber by day, before heading for the local bars by night to play with the likes of Sindo Garay and Nico Saquito. At the age of 15, he wrote "Yo Vengo Aqui," the first of hundreds of compositions. Compay also studied clarinet, and by the time he was 20, he was the clarinetist in the Municipal Band of Santiago, led by his teacher Enrique Bueno.