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Ryland P. ("Ry") Cooder, b. 1947

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Ryland P. ("Ry") Cooder, b. 1947

Posted: 1034716053000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1176321827000
Surnames: Ryland, Cooder, Kuder, Keckeler, Lamprey, Veith, O'Leary
Ry Cooder is a guitarist who has become a major composer of motion-picture scores. The musicians with whom he has recorded comprise a "who's who" of rock and blues. Over the years he has worked in such diverse genres as jazz, Afro-Cuban, Hawaiian slack-key, Tex-Mex, and gospel music. His work has won a number of awards, including two Grammies. He has not to date received any Oscar nominations, but give him time.

Being a fan of long standing, I have often wondered whether Ryland P. Cooder was a member of the greater Ryland family. To make a long story short, it turns out that indeed he is.

Space doesn't permit a full biography here, but see ROLLING STONES magazine's biography at Another good biography is from the BBC at

The BBC notes "To this day, it is virtually impossible to find any details about his private life and background." Tell me about it. From all indications, Ry Cooder is a modest, private man -- surprisingly so, given his fame in the musical world -- and I must respect that. But his vast body of work speaks for itself. His movie work is described on the Internet Movie Database,+Ry

"The word 'eclectic' may have been invented to describe people like Ryland 'Ry' Cooder, America's foremost musicologist, writer, and performer of motion-picture soundtracks; guitarist extraordinaire; and producer of the acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club recordings," wrote John Kehe in the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR (30 July 1999).

A great profile of Ry Cooder appeared in ESQUIRE magazine in June 1999 (page 100) -- "Who Put the Honky Tonk in 'Honky Tonk Women'? And other tales from the untold life of Ry Cooder, American Genius," by Alec Wilkinson. This paragraph caught my attention:

"The first of Cooder's ancestors to arrive in America, around the time of the Revolution, came from the Low Countries--that is, the area including Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. He spelled his name Kuder, and one of his descendants married into a family in Ohio named Ryland."

The article's title refers to Keith Richards's famous opening riff on the Rolling Stones' record "Honky Tonk Women." Richards sometimes admits he got those licks from Ry Cooder, and sometimes he heatedly denies it. But I was more interested to find out who put the "Ryland" into Ry Cooder.

I turned for help to the historian of the Kuder family, Robert C. Kuder <> of Maple Grove, Minnesota. He is the author of a definitive 300-page book, KUDER-KUTER-COOTER-COODER FAMILIES. "To say that it is painstakingly meticulous and through is an understatement," says Kuder webmaster Roger Kuder. "I have never met the author, but I commend him on the enormous amount of research he has compiled."

There aren't as many Kuders as Rylands, even. The name should ring a bell with anyone, at least in the US, who has gone to school or received any vocational counseling in the past 50 years and taken the Kuder Preference Record, the work of Dr. G. F. Kuder. Details on this accomplished family are posted on Roger Kuder's webpage, which also tells how to obtain Robert Kuder's book.

Robert Kuder has been most helpful, and he has documented material somewhat at variance with Wilkinson's account. The original Kuder emigrant was Hans Peter Kuder, who arrived on the CHARMING NANCY out of Rotterdam 8 October 1737 and settled in German Town, Pa. Like Paulus Reylandt later, he is recorded as having taken the Oath of Allegiance upon arrival at Philadelphia. "Although he sailed from Rotterdam, he did not originate from the low countries, but from Neckargartach on the Neckar River (a branch of the Rhine River) in Wurttemberg," Mr. Kuder advises (email, 15 Oct 2002).

Among the descendants of Hans Peter Kuder, no direct marriages with any women surnamed Ryland could be found in Mr. Kuder's work. But the third great-grandson of Hans Kuder, William Christopher Cooder, had married Louise Ryland Keckeler in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, 19 May 1880. Perhaps that was the Ryland connection. Ry Cooder is their great-grandson.

William Christopher Cooder was born 7 October 1851 in Clermont County, Ohio. He was still living in Cincinnati in the 1920 census. He died in Los Angeles County, California, 15 June 1941.

Louise Ryland Keckeler was born 7 June 1854 in Cincinnati.
She was a member of the DAR. Her submitted genealogy (Volume 55 of the DAR lineage books, page 313) says her parents were Dr. Adolphus Turner Keckeler and Louisa Ryland of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the item does not trace her Ryland ancestry farther back.

This wedding to W. C. Cooder was the second for Louise Ryland Keckeler. She was married first to Clarence S. Lamprey (15 June 1872 in Cincinnati), and they had three daughters. She and William C. Cooder were the parents of Howard Russell Cooder, born 12 Aug 1886 in Ohio, died 26 March 1945 in Los Angeles. Louise and William Cooder were divorced, and she married thirdly Robert Edgar Veith in Vancouver, B. C., 29 Jan 1913. She died 18 May 1915 in Vancouver (British Columbia Death Index on

Howard R. Cooder married Maude O'Leary (1881-1946) of Minnesota. All their children were born in Canada, two daughters and a son -- William Cooder. Bill and his wife Emma are the parents of Ry Cooder.

Ryland Peter Cooder was born in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, Calif., 15 March 1947. He and his wife of 30-some-odd years, Susan, are pictured at

They are the parents of drummer Joachim Herbert Cooder, who was born 23 Aug 1978 in Santa Monica. Joachim has his own band and often works with his dad, notably on the album and film made in Cuba, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB.

Much of this information comes from Robert Kuder, and from the book Genealogy of the Morris Family, Descendants Of Thomas Morris of Connecticut, By Lucy Ann (Morris) Carhart. New York, 1911.

I have been unable to locate any comprehensive published study of the Rylands of Cincinnati. With the help of Mr. Kuder and others, I think we can put together a picture of that family. But that will have to be the subject of a later posting.

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