Alibi V.15 No.16 • April 20-26, 2006 

In Memoriam

Remembering Ryan King

Local musician leaves behind a legacy of stellar musicianship and genuine passion

Ryan King and his beloved bright red upright bass
Ryan King and his beloved bright red upright bass

On Monday, April 10, Albuquerque lost a valued member of its music community. Ryan King, bassist for the Cowpunk outfit Swingin' Meat and ex-member of the infamous local punk ensemble Beefcake in Chains died at the young age of 34.

King was well known by many musicians, club owners and tattoo artists around Albuquerque. In addition to his band-related activities, King also worked for three years at Grandma's Music and Sound in the Gigware department after spending time bartending at the Launchpad.

“My kids called him the King,” recalls Ronni Langton, lead singer and guitarist in King's most recent band, Swingin' Meat. “We wouldn't be anywhere without Ryan; except maybe in the garage. He got us out playing and helped get us noticed.”

Grandma's Gigware manager and fellow employee Andy Castellano remembers the zealousness with which King pursued his music career. “He was really gung ho about getting his band recorded,” Castellano says. “One of the last things he did, in fact, was charge a bunch of strings and drumsticks on his account for the other band members. He was really excited and willing to take charge of the band on the business end of things.”

Castellano recalls one night when Slayer guitarist Kerry King gave a demonstration at Grandma's in front of over 400 people. “Ryan had just bought the Kerry King Limited Edition Vans shoes,” Castellano remembers. “He took his shoes off his feet and got Kerry to sign them and he never wore those shoes again. I just remember him walking out of the store barefoot, very pleased that he had gotten his shoes signed by one of his idols. Ryan always dressed, looked and acted young at heart.”

Both Castellano and Langton feel that knowing Ryan was a privilege and that his love of music was what drove him. “I truly believe he was playing the right music at the right time in his life and that when he died he was doing what he loved,” Castellano says.

In the coming months, three benefits will be held for the family of Ryan King: The Launchpad (Friday, May 12; $5 at the door), Atomic Cantina (Saturday, June 3; free) and Burt's Tiki Lounge (Friday, June 16; free).