Ry Cooder remains one of the very few studio icons who has gained the reputation as a "musician's musician." Beginning his professional career in 1963 in a little-known blues band that included pop vocalist Jackie DeShannon, Cooder has become a mainstay in the California studio scene, as well as developed into one of brightest stars on the "Americana" radio format. After trying and failing to gain stardom in a band called Rising Sons in 1965 (with bandmates Taj Mahal and Ed Cassidy, who later formed Spirit), he was brought in to do session work for artists as diverse as Captain Beefheart, Randy Newman, Little Feat, Van Dyke Parks, Gordon Lightfoot, and several others. He contributed a mandolin track on the Stones' classics Let It Bleed and was also prominently featured on Sticky Fingers where he contributed his trademark slide guitar.
By the early '80s, Cooder had also become one of the most prolific film soundtrack composers and musicians. He has contributed to over 30 films including Blue Collar, The Long Riders, The Border, Paris, Texas, Streets of Fire, Alamo Bay, Cocktail, and Geronimo. At the same time he developed a love for bringing to the forefront many unknown musicians who helped him create recordings in a wide spectrum of titles including Tex-Mex, African, rock 'n' roll, blues, reggae, Hawaiian, jazz, country, folk, R&B, Cuban, and gospel music.
Cooder continues to record, tour, and compose movie soundtracks today.