Ryder Buck enjoyed music from the time he was an infant. His parents could always tell he was really listening.
When he was about six years old, he was out on the patio with a balalaika in his lap and a sad look on his face. They were cutting down a tree next door, so he was playing a sad song for the tree.
“I was forced into singing for my school’s seventh and eighth-grade choir, which I had NO intention of doing, but in a bizarre twist of events, I ended up absolutely falling in love with it.”
In junior high, Ryder accidentally signed up for choir, which landed him in a very uncomfortable spotlight on stage.
His growing passion for music ultimately led Ryder to his best self. He would plop down on the end of his parent’s bed in the middle of the night and implore them to listen to his latest composition. He wanted honest feedback, and they loved his humility.
Ryder and his guitar went everywhere together. Even though he became obsessive about his music, he was still confused about what he should do with his life.
When he asked his mom’s opinion, she told him to look in the mirror. It was strapped on his back.
Beach jams beside a bonfire became his signature event. He was building an image. Flip flops, shades, sandy hair, and tan biceps. He saw his guitar as a “chick magnet.”
One day during his junior year in college, Ryder called his mom saying he had some good news and some bad news.
“The bad news? OK, I have cancer.”
“The good news? It’s the kind that can be cured!”
From the start of treatment, Ryder insisted on being true to himself, even if it meant skirting the medical guidelines sometimes. This gave his mother many gray hairs and his doctors more than a few moments of concern, but they learned to trust him as much as he learned to respect their refusal to let cancer win.
Ryder discovered Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (ESMZ) during his treatment. They became his favorite band, uplifting him spiritually and filling him with just pure love.
During a concert, the band asked the audience if anyone had a story to tell. Ryder managed to get the mic and shared a few words.
“You guys saved my life. I’ve just been through chemotherapy (roar from the crowd).
It was hard, but your music, your vibe, got me through it. I love you all.
And I just want to say thank you. Just, thank you.”
Ryder became instant friends with the band members, which helped him leave cancer completely behind and focus on making his musical dreams come true.
Ryder Buck and the Breakers were on fire, playing gigs all across
the LA area.
Trent Carroll, Ryder Buck, Sean Moriarty, Cameron Wehrle
“It was unbelievable. Only days earlier, Ryder had told us, “I’m going to get you playing with them (ESMZ) if it’s the last thing I do.” And suddenly we were. And it was.”
Ryder knew what music did for others, and certainly, he knew what it did for him. He had a philanthropic heart, which inspired him to use his music to help others.
After Ryder passed, the hospital where he'd played for cancer survivors voted unanimously to give him the hospital’s
highest award: The Flame of Hope.
“I was at the ESMZ concert the night Ryder shared his story. I never got to meet him personally, but I was utterly moved, transfixed, and inspired by his story and the lessons he had for us all.
His spirit, the way he carried himself, the way he spoke, and what he showed us will stay with me forever.”
Though it wasn’t cancer that took Ryder, it was the catalyst that helped him grow into the shining spirit he became. His journey of love, courage and truth shows you that there is no challenge big enough to keep you from putting your special touch on the world.
The very first song Ryder wrote was called
LEAVE YOUR LIGHT ON
which became his mantra for life.
Now it's the name of a book that shows you how to leave your light on, too.