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Paul Ryder, Happy Mondays Founding Bassist, Dead at 58

Paul Ryder, the founding bassist of the “Madchester” band Happy Mondays, died at the age of 58.

Paul’s brother Shaun Ryder, the group’s lead singer, announced the bassist’s death Friday on social media. No cause of death was provided.

“The Ryder family and Happy Mondays band members are deeply saddened and shocked to say that Paul Ryder passed away this morning,” the band wrote. “A true pioneer and legend. He will be forever missed. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time. Long live his funk.”

The Ryder brothers formed what would eventually become the Happy Mondays in 1980 and signed with Factory Records in 1985, soon becoming a mainstay and standout act at label head Tony Wilson’s legendary “Madchester” epicenter and venue, the Hacienda.

A mishmash of funk, punk, psychedelic rock, and the then-burgeoning rave scene, the Happy Mondays released a trio of acclaimed LPs at the turn of the Nineties — 1987’s Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out), 1988’s Bummed and their 1990 masterpiece Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches — with Paul Ryder providing the groovy foundation to hit singles like “Kinky Afro,” “Step On” and “Hallelujah.”

However, the band’s musical output was countered by tabloid stories about the band’s hard-partying and drug use, which included the infamous circumstances that occurred while recording their 1992 LP, Yes Please, a commercial failure that went so far over budget it bankrupted Factory Records. (The Happy Mondays’ and Ryder brothers’ exploits are featured in perhaps exaggerated fashion in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, itself named after a Happy Mondays single.)

The Happy Mondays first broke up in 1992; the Ryder brothers would intermittently reunite the band over the following decades, and while Paul did not appear on the band’s 2007 comeback album Uncle Dsyfunktional, he remained a Happy Mondays member from 2012 until his death Friday; the band was scheduled to perform Friday night at Sutherland, England’s Kubix Festival.

“Rest in peace Paul Ryder a great friend a great musician a great big fella,” Stone Roses’ Ian Brown tweeted Friday.

New Order’s Bernard Sumner, a fellow Factory artist who produced Happy Mondays’ 1986 single “Freaky Dancin’,” tweeted Friday, “So sorry to hear about the passing of Paul. Our thoughts are with his family and of course the rest of the band members.”

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