Born in the Great Depression April 1st, 1936, a child of the greatest generation ever known, CJ Ryder's incredible story begins in a small town in Iowa. While his mother listened to Roy Acuff singing The Wallbash Cannonball on The radio, She gave birth to a cannonball of her own.
(Due to the enormous brain of this child his mother would later remark, "it was like giving birth to a watermelon".)
His father Calvin Joseph Ryder, was the son of Irish Immigrants. The Ryder family had fled Ireland during the potato famine of 1859. They came to America in hopes of a better life. The Family worked hard and was able to win a small farm in Iowa in the late 1880s, during a drunken Rock Paper Scissors contest. From there it was handed down to Calvin by his father, Cleland Jacob Ryder III. (Cleland was also an accomplished thumb wrestler)
The Ryder Family found farming to be in their blood and were sure that young CJ would one day inherit the farm, raise Alpacas and work it as his father and grandfather had done, But life had a different idea for young CJ. His life would take a turn while he was still a young man in his teens. No one could have foreseen the enormity of the star he would soon become.
On the Farm was a group of hired hands who loved to sing and play music when the day's chores were done. They later became a well-known group called the Temptations. Young CJ would sit for hours and take it all in. They asked him to join in and he gladly sang along, learning the stories behind the music became a lifelong passion. As he grew up and the radio became his source of entertainment, young CJ dreamed of the cities that lay just over the horizon from his Iowa home. He was drawn like a moth to the flame.
After a car broke down in front of the farm and young CJ offered to help, the man who went by the name of Muddy Waters gave CJ an old battered guitar. (It was later lost on a canoe trip by a friend who took it to Arkansas.) He told him tales of blues music being played in Chicago and how he was going there to be a star. CJ wanted to go with Muddy, but there were chores to do. He felt he would never get off the farm. His growing herd of Alpacas only added to that belief.
After graduating from high school, CJ was expected to take on the task of running the family farm, but the carnival had come to town and he was drawn in by the Variety Music Show that came with the Carnival that fateful year of 1954, A man by the name of Colonel Robert Barker (He would later develop TV game shows) was to become a huge influence in CJs life. He was a promoter and music aficionado who spent his life searching out talent among the kind people of the midwest United States.
At the Carnival, there was a spot during the Variety show that allowed for local singers and dancers to showcase their unique talents. It was during this impromptu showcase that both their lives would collide. While drinking on the midway, CJ and his friends decided to go watch the show.
On a dare, CJ Ryder was challenged to get up and sing in front of the crowd that had gathered to hear the songs of the day performed by various artists from around the country who traveled in the Carnivals musical show, during his daring performance, CJ found himself wading into the crowd and finding a female who he would lock eyes with and sing to as if she was the only person there. Barker was instantly taken with the young man's ability to woo the crowd and he decided to add CJ to the show.
Now, CJ was faced with a dilemma, he had the farm to think of but had dreamed of playing music for a living and traveling out of Iowa. He went home to talk to his parents and while not thrilled with their son's choice, they reluctantly agreed to let him follow his dream. He packed his suitcase with Brylcreem, a comb and 7 pairs of fresh underwear, two shiny suits, and a National Geographic. (The one with the naked tribal ladies in it.) He had arrived!
From that fateful meeting Col. Barker took young CJ to Chicago, then New York and finally to London England to make what would become his first hit record entitled "My Summer Love", a song that CJ had penned after spending the summer at a bible camp in Iowa. That song would set the course for him to become the trusted confidant of some of the biggest names in music history.
From Elvis to the Beatles to World leaders, CJ Ryder became the go-to man for advice and ideas. His counsel was highly sought after, he was the source of so much creativity. He created a publishing company that would later be purchased by a man called Larry Flynt, it was known for its medical pictures of Anatomy. (CJ later claimed he only read the articles.)
From humble beginnings, he soon became the toast of the town and was invited to dine with not only movie stars and other singers but with political leaders and heads of state from around the world. During the late 50s, he would become friends with John F Kennedy and other political leaders who would go on to change the world. He would give advice and perform at fundraisers for them.
This was the heydey of Las Vegas and soon he would be a staple there performing with his friends from the Rat Pack and hosting his own stage show. While in Vegas he would have a large entourage in tow to take in the craps tables and blackjack games. He would often put huge sums of money on the table and would say " Let it CJ RYYYYYDE!" He was adored by fans and the music industry alike.
His friends in the industry loved to be seen with him. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack were regulars at his house in Vegas and often left it a shambles after partying for a week straight. The house would be littered with empty bottles of Ripple, Brass Monkey and Mad Dog 2020. Coupled with endless ashtrays full of unfiltered Camel Cigarettes and half-chewed cigars. He once told a story of Dean Martin lifting his mattress and throwing up on his bed. He was living the dream and loving every minute of it. (Martin would later say that it was actually Sinatra who had thrown up between the Mattresses.)
It was also during this time that he was approached by the CIA to become a Spy. With his influence growing and the world issues growing, CJ undertook this role and became highly skilled in the techniques of the modern spy. He would provide intel for the agency and become one of the top agents they had ever seen. Able to move freely because of his position in society gave him a certain disposition that made those high in the organization worry that he may know too much. Those in powerful places began to plot against CJ.
While on a visit to Iowa to see his aging mother on April 1st, he was taken by force to a milking facility in Des Moines, Iowa, and was cryogenically frozen along with 16 pounds of Bull Semen for the states newly formed artificial insemination program. (Go Hawks!)
This was 1967, he was at the top of his game and suddenly disappeared from the scene completely. The CIA gave leaks to the media claiming he was tired of the fame and was now retired and would not be granting interviews. Radio stopped playing his songs and he was relegated to obscurity. The man who sang "My Summer Love", the man who was an advisor to presidents and kings, was now frozen in a machine designed to keep Bull Semen ready to Inseminate, it would now keep him alive indefinitely. The door was sealed on the chamber that held him and the cask was moved to a secret vault under the building.
Forty-Five long years passed...
In 2012, an old abandoned building was set to be torn down, the inspectors came through to check the building before it was destroyed. They discovered a hidden door and when they opened it they found a series of ladders that descended to a dark concrete bunker about 40 feet below the floor of the building. In it they found a large machine with a window of sorts on the top of it, when they shined a light on it they saw the face of CJ RYDER.
The process of freezing CJ had preserved him as he was in 1967. He was taken to a lab and over a period of 2 weeks he was thawed and put on life support.
Upon waking, he asked what year it was? when he was told it was 2012, he wept. His family now long gone, he went to the family farm and discovered it had been turned into a shopping mall and where his house had sat was now a Chick Filet fast food drive-thru.
Devastated and alone, he decided to regain his place in the music industry. Those who had conspired to keep him quiet were now all gone as well. He could return to his life.
He would train his body to walk and move again, endless hours of rehab led to him renewing his love of performing. He knew what he had to do now.
In 2018 CJ RYDER has decided to return to the stage and with his new band the Past Masters. With this new show, he brings his incredible wealth of musical knowledge to the stage once again entertaining as only he can. Those who remember My Summer Love will once again feel the merry rays of Sunshine upon their memories of the Man the Myth the living legend.
While the times may have changed...
CJ Ryder remains the same.