Last modified on December 18, 2021, at 12:56

Greg Ryder

Gregory Allen "Greg" Ryder

(Western singer and guitarist)

Singer Greg Ryder.jpg

Born October 31, 1951
Near Ripon, Fond du Lac County,
Wisconsin, USA
Died April 23, 2019 (aged 67)
North of Durango, Colorado (automobile accident)
Spouse Julie Ellen Ryder

Mother: Beth L. Ryder (deceased)

Gregory Allen Ryder, known as Greg Ryder (October 31, 1951 – April 23, 2019), was a singer and guitarist of country, western, western swing, ballad, folk, and popular music, based primarily in the resort city of Durango, Colorado.


Reared on a dairy farm near Ripon in Fond du Lac County in southeastern Wisconsin, the middle child of his father's second marriage, Greg Ryder was exposed to a musical environment from his earliest years fostered by his mother, Beth L. Ryder (1916-2002)[1] and a maternal uncle. In 1971, he came to Vail in Eagle County, Colorado, because of his interest in skiing as well as music.[2] He has also resided in Safford, Arizona. In 1979, he and his wife, Julie Ellen Ryder (born August 5, 1952), relocated to Durango, where they still resided at the time of his death.[3] His wide range of music defies easy classification: "I'm not afraid to write about the injustice in the world; about heartache, and about human mortality. None of my songs [is] written for mass markets. I write what I know ..."[4] Ryder considered Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan as major influences in his own music.[5]

Musical career

For more than a decade he was part of the Bar D Wranglers, known for a chuckwagon supper and western musical/comedy program popular with tourists in Durango. With the other Wranglers, Gary Cook, Bob Minser, and Jerry Baxter, and his wife Julie as instrumental accompanists, Ryder released the cassette tape "Blue Shadows", named for a 1948 lead song "Blue Shadows on the Trail" by the Sons of the Pioneers. On this tape, he sings solo in his baritone voice such selections as "Man Walks Among Us", "Rocky Mountain Express", "Night Rider's Lament", "They Call the Wind Mariah", "The Wayward Wind", and "El Paso". "Jim" is a lament about the death of a fellow cowboy, which prompts his young friend "to wear a tie today". The song "Texas Rangers" is about a march to the Rio Grande of a unit of Texas Rangers whose "time had come to die."[6]

Ryder's CD releases on his own label include: "Life Is Flyin' By" (2005), "Where the River Goes" (2007), which includes "Cowboy Blues" and "Swingin' in the Saddle", and "American Western" (2008), with seventeen selections, ranging from "Oh Shenandoah", "Along the Santa Fe Trail", "The Wayfaring Stranger", and "Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend".[5][7]

Ryder performed regularly in Durango at the Diamond Belle Saloon in the Strater Hotel,[8] the Office Spiritorium,[3] and at private dude ranches during the summer. He has written the words and music for the song entitled Streets of Durango.[9] Ryder often mentions the title of his CD "Life Is Flyin' By" and adds the refrain, "so hope to see you soon."[4]

Leanne Goebel in the Durango Herald in 2007 analyzes Ryder's music, accordingly:

A lifetime of singing has helped him hone a voice that is reminiscent of Marty Robbins. In fact, but for a wider nose and blue eyes, Ryder resembles the country and western crooner who wrote and sang ballads like "El Paso."

When Ryder sings the audience listens and enjoys. ... Hoagy Carmichael, Hoyt Axton, and Marty Robbins must smile from their cowboy heaven. It isn't the magic juice that makes Greg Ryder sound great. It's the passion of a singer and songwriter who knows exactly what moves him and stirs his soul. ...[2]

Death in automobile crash

In the spring of 2019, Ryder perished at the age of sixty-seven in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 550 north of Durango. At the time of his passing, he was still performing at the Diamond Belle Saloon inside the Statler Hotel.[10] A memorial service was held at the hotel on September 7, 2019.


  1. Beth Ryder. Retrieved on April 22, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leanne Goebel, Greg Ryder: Press Review. Durango Herald', November 27, 2007. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Greg Ryder. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Greg Ryder: Bio. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Artist Information. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  6. Frontier Records, Durango, Colorado, 1994
  7. Greg Ryder. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  8. Diamond Belle Saloon: Entertainers. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  9. "Streets of Durango" download. Retrieved on June 30, 2013.
  10. Jerry McBride (April 24, 2019). Photo and video: Durangoans pay tribute to musician Greg Ryder. The Durango Herald. Retrieved on August 27, 2019.