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Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape
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Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape
Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape
Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape
Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape

Mitch Ryder - All Hits GRT 1967 4-track tape

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William S. Levise, Jr (born 26 February 1945), better known by his stage name Mitch Ryder, is an American musician who has recorded over two dozen albums in more than four decades.

Ryder is noted for his gruff, wailing singing style, much influenced by Little Richard, and his dynamic stage performances, influenced by James Brown. As a teen, Ryder sang backup in a black soul group known as the Peps, but racial animosities interfered with his continued presence in the group.

Ryder formed his first band (Tempest) when he was in high school, and the group gained some notoriety playing at a Detroit soul music club called The Village. Ryder next appeared fronting a band called Billy Lee & The Rivieras, which had limited success until they met the songwriter / record producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe renamed the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and they recorded several hit records on his DynoVoice Records label in the mid to late 1960s, most notably "Devil with a Blue Dress On", their highest-charting single at #4, as well as "Sock It to Me-Baby!", a #6 hit in 1967, and "Jenny Take a Ride!", which reached #10 in 1965.

Since the early 1970s, Ryder's musical endeavors have not met with the same success that they did before. Ryder himself has blamed his lack of subsequent hits on his unsuccessful aim (largely prodded by Bob Crewe, whom most[who?] music critics say had the idea in the first place, thus breaking up the Wheels) at the Tom Jones-type cabaret/night club audience just as the counterculture was becoming dominant in 1967 and 1968. In 1968, Trumpeters Mike Thuroff and John Stefan were hired to tour with his great horn section and band. Mike Thuroff and John Stefan also recorded the trumpet parts on Mitch's song, "Ring My Bell." Although this was a "Great Song" with a "Real Nice Groove," it was not permitted to be played on radio air time in many States due to its sexual innuendos. Mitch had one hit single from that period, a cover of "What Now, My Love," but no other success approaching his run with the Wheels. His last successful ensemble release was Mitch Ryder's Detroit in 1971, which featured the drummer from the original Detroit Wheels, Johnny (Johnny Bee) Badjanek and called the new band Detroit. The album saw Ryder moving from his earlier soul music-influenced sound to a guitar-dominated hard rock sound more in keeping with the early 1970s; the new band's version of Lou Reed's anthemic "Rock and Roll" is considered a minor classic.

According to (which calls Ryder "the unsung hero" of Michigan rock and roll), Ryder withdrew from music after experiencing throat trouble, moving to Colorado with his wife and taking up writing and painting. In 1983 Ryder returned to a major label with the John Mellencamp-produced Never Kick a Sleeping Dog. The album featured a cover of the Prince song "When You Were Mine," which was Ryder's last foray into the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Ryder continues to record and tour, and his influence is felt in the music of such blue collar rock artists as Bob Seger, John Mellencamp, and Bruce Springsteen-whose version of "Devil With a Blue Dress" highlighted the No Nukes concert album in the early 1980s. He has also been cited as a primary musical influence by Ted Nugent.

Winona Ryder took "Ryder" as a stage name, after seeing a Mitch Ryder album in her father's collection.

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2005. The group's biggest hit, "Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly, Miss Molly", was voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2008. In 2009, Ryder was inducted into Michigan Rock and Roll Legends for a second time in recognition of his long career as a solo artist.

Ryder currently resides in Livonia, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit, Michigan. He continues to tour and perform throughout the United States and Europe.

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