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Guitarist Ryan McKay was born in Quincy, Illinois. By the age of 13 he was playing in his first band, who made their debut at a roller skating rink. A meager start, but it wasn’t long before he graduated into playing the local clubs where the “old guys” played. By the time McKay finished high school he was a veteran of the local scene. For the next few years Ryan toured the Midwest and released a critically acclaimed album with the band Stoner/McKay called “Liberty City”. The album that broke local sales records.
In 1998, Ryan packed up and moved to sunny Phoenix, Arizona. On the first day, instead of unpacking, he answered a ‘guitarist wanted’ ad in the local paper. The audition got off to a shaky start but soon things turned positive. “..I remember plugging my guitar in and tuning up. They asked me if I wrote songs and if I could maybe play one. I said yes and proceeded to play and sing something I had written.
They began to laugh. I thought, ‘wow, I must really suck’. They then apologized and told me the laughter was out of joy that they had finally found a guy after auditioning a rogue’s gallery of Phoenix guitarists for weeks…”
That band was South Seventeen. With Ryan’s prolific songwriting the band recorded and released an album in a few short months. Then thanks to airplay on one of the largest rock radio stations in the country, Elektra Records came calling. South Seventeen landed a short lived spec deal then folded. “I felt like I was working for the label, or at least writing and playing for anybody but myself. I really wanted to grow as a musician. I learned I wasn’t as interested in being a rock star as I was in becoming the best I could be as a player..”
After placing a call to a local music store Ryan landed positions teaching guitar. Playing the local clubs in Phoenix for a few years had garnered a few students. But it was in 2003 when the main teacher left that Ryan’s teaching took off. He inherited 50 students, a weekly lesson load that he still maintains. The store Metro Music was named “Best Place to Take Music Lessons’ in the Phoenix New Times during Ryan’s tenure. “I’ve learned so much from teaching. It’s a great way to push yourself. Best part about working at the music store is that I could study all the books I wanted. That’s when I got really into jazz. The store’s owner, Tracy Williams, is an amazing jazz guitarist. I was lucky to have him nearby. I would bug him with questions almost every day!” These days Ryan owns his own private studio in Glendale, AZ.
Of course Ryan didn’t leave writing and recording in bands behind. Currently, he is the lead singer and guitarist for Crash Street Kids, an internationally acclaimed rock band whose numerous accolades include number one records in the United Kingdom and Denmark, Breakthrough Artist of the Year award in Hollywood, and Best Rock Band in their hometown of Phoenix. The band has released 4 conceptual studio albums along with a double live album recorded at their good friend Alice Cooper’s club in Phoenix.
In 2011, Ryan lent his guitar work to legendary drummers Vinnie and Carmine Appice for their “Drum Wars” show in Las Vegas. Performing hits that the brothers played on, as diverse as Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart.
As a session musician, McKay has recorded, produced and played on countless projects. Ryan is also a regular Artist/Clinician at the prestigious “Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences”. He also is called upon frequently, as a Guest Speaker for “The National Engineer’s Society’s” recording seminars, “The Other Side of the Glass“.