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Albany music legend Herb Ryals dead at 74

By   /   August 15, 2011  /   Comments

Herb Ryals, an Albany music icon, died Sunday at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Here is his obituary:

Herbert Deone Ryals, Jr., 74, of Albany, GA, died Sunday, August 14, 2011 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

His funeral service will be 2 PM on Thursday, August 18, 2011, at Kimbrell-Stern with interment to follow at Crown Hill Cemetery. Pastor Jerry Etheridge will officiate.

Mr. Ryals was born in Moultrie, GA, and had lived in Albany since 1970. He graduated from Crisp County High School in 1956. He was involved with music all of his life, and for the last 15 years he has written Gospel and Christian music. He has dedicated his life to Jesus and was a member of the Heritage Full Gospel Church where he played the saxophone on most Sundays. He owned and operated Ryals Homebuilders for many years. He enjoyed animals, and helped organizations that helped animals. Mr. Ryals was preceded in death by his children: Herbie Ryals, Zack Ryals, and Jay Ryals, and by his grandchildren: Kimberly Hinson and Jessica Valma.

He is survived by his wife: Frances J. Ryals, Albany; 5 children: Sheryl Ryals, Albany, Sheree Cannon, Albany, Anna Gilbert and her husband Greg, Charlotte, NC, Kelly Merritt and her husband Shaw, Albany; Leah Ryals, Albany; 1 son: Sean Ryals and his wife Tracy, Vancouver, BC; 2 sisters: Betty Ruth Woods, Colquitt, GA, Lib Singer, Marietta, GA; 10 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at Kimbrell-Stern on Wednesday from 6-8 PM.

Those desiring may send memorials to the Albany Humane Society, 1705 Oakridge Ln., Albany, GA 31707.

You may sign the online guest book and share your memories with the family of Herbert Deone Ryals, Jr. by visiting Kimbrell-Stern’s website at www.kimbrellstern.com.

Following is a press release promoting the release of one of Ryals’ albums.

If you ask Herb Ryals when he first fell in love with music, he’d probably say “It must have happened when I was born”. Herb recalls his mother telling him that before he could talk, he would hum along with the songs on the radio playing constantly in the Ryals home. Both his mother and father could sing and his sisters were singing in perfect harmony as far back as Herb can remember.

A native of Georgia, and being raised in the deep south, Herb was influenced by a broad range of singers and musicians (including big band, country, blues, rock & roll and more). His first performance was at the age of 3 where he sang “God Bless America” at a cantata in Albany, Georgia. He taught himself to play piano and saxophone while still a teenager and was playing professionally by the age of 18.

At 20, he landed his first recording contract with a newly-formed record label in Memphis, TN known as Pepper Records. He recorded a remake of the standard “Heart And Soul”, which was successful enough to send him on tour with artists Frankie Avalon, Johnny Horton, Chuck Berry, Ferlin Huskey and many others. Herb worked as a singer, songwriter and musician in Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans and New York. He recorded “The Luckiest Guy” and “Suzanne” (with Jerry Willis) on Dot Records in 1961 (both songs which had considerable success in Europe).

In 1968, Herb recorded “Like The Falling Rain” released on RCA Victor and “Goodbye Maria” was recorded in the early 70′s (released on Atco Records). When Elvis was in Germany, Herb played live with Elvis’ backing band members, Bill Black and Scotty Moore. Several of Herb’s songs were recorded by other artists, such as Arthur Alexander and Roy Hamilton. Herb has worked with top producers, such as Noel Ball in Nashville (who produced hits “Sugar Shack”, “You Better Move On” and “Anna”). In New York, he worked with producer Paul Vance (who produced “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and “Catch A Falling Star”). In the 1980′s, Herb recorded his version of Percy Sledge hit “Warm And Tender Love”, which placed him in Billboard magazine.

Today, Herb has written many country and gospel rooted Christian songs, some of which are featured on his CD, “Lifeboat”. It is his aim to glorify God through his music and his hope that you will hear something in his music that brings you closer to the Lord. Herb is currently working on an instrumental gospel album featuring tenor sax and still plays regularly in his church.

Herb says his best advice is his favorite scripture: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousnesss; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Matt. 6:33
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