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Lee Mack Ritenour (born January 11, 1952) is an American jazz guitarist who has contributed to over 3000 sessions and has charted over 30 contemporary jazz hits since 1976.[1]

Lee Ritenour
LeeRitenour Stockholm20090715.jpg
Ritenour at the Stockholm Jazz Festival, 2009
Background information
Birth name Lee Mack Ritenour
Born (1952-01-11) January 11, 1952 (age 66)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Jazz, jazz-funk, jazz fusion, smooth jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, producer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1968–present
Labels Epic, Elektra, GRP, PolyGram, Decca, Peak, Concord
Associated acts Dave Grusin, Fourplay



Ritenour was born January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles. At 16, he played on his first recording session, with the Mamas & the Papas, and was given the nickname Captain Fingers for his dexterity. He was a studio musician in the 1970s, winning Guitar Player magazine's Best Studio Guitarist award twice.

Throughout his career, Ritenour has experimented with different styles of music, incoprorating funk, pop, rock, blues, Brazilian, and classical music with jazz.


The Lee Ritenour Gibson L5 Signature archtop guitar

Ritenour's solo career began with the album First Course (1976), which was a good example of the jazz-funk sound of the 1970s. That was followed by Captain Fingers, The Captain's Journey (1978), and Feel the Night (1979)

In 1979, Ritenour "was brought in to beef up one of Pink Floyd's The Wall ' heaviest rock numbers, "Run Like Hell".[2] He also played "uncredited rhythm guitar" on "One of My Turns".[3][4]

As the 1980s began, Ritenour began to add stronger elements of pop to his music, beginning with Rit in 1981. For this, he kept with his distorted sound, now using his Ibanez LR-10 signature model guitar. The song "Is It You", with vocals by Eric Tagg reached No. 15 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 27 on the soul chart.[5] The track peaked at number fifteen on Hot Adult Contemporary chart.[6] He continued with the pop-oriented music for Rit/2 (1982) and Banded Together (1984), while releasing a slick, yet more crossover-styled, Direct-Disk instrumental album in 1983 called On the Line. He also provided rhythm guitar on Tom Browne's hit, Funkin' for Jamaica. In 1985, he recorded his first album for GRP Records with Dave Grusin, entitled Harlequin, featuring Ritenour primarily on classical guitar, with Brazilian singer Ivan Lins.[citation needed]

On Earth Run (1986) he used nine different guitars, most notably the SynthAxe, his Valley Arts guitar, and his Gibson Chet Atkins acoustic. The album also featured long-time collaborator Phil Perry for the first time, on the track "If I'm Dreaming, Don't Wake Me", a song also featuring David Foster and Maurice White who played wicked good (prove it?) on the recording.

Ritenour continued in a direction strongly featuring other artists in 1987, with Portrait. The album itself has something of a strong smooth-jazz sound, and Ritenour can be heard here playing with The Yellowjackets, Djavan, and Kenny G.

In 1988, his smooth jazz-influenced Brazilian music came to the forefront with Festival – another album strongly featuring his work on nylon-string acoustic guitars. The following album, Color Rit, continued with a similar mood. He changed direction completely again with his straight-ahead jazz album Stolen Moments. Ritenour played alongside long-time collaborator, saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, bassist John Patitucci (playing only acoustic) and drummer Harvey Mason. During that same year, he performed and composed the theme song of the Canadian TV series Ramona.


In 1991 Ritenour and keyboardist Bob James formed the group Fourplay. He left the group in 1998 and was replaced by Larry Carlton. He released the career retrospective Overtime in 2005. Smoke n' Mirrors came out the next year with the debut of his thirteen-year-old son, Wesley, on drums.

Celebrating his fifty years as a guitarist in 2010, Ritenour released 6 String Theory, a title that refers to six musical areas covered by the use of guitar.[7]

Ritneour has been a judge for the Independent Music Awards.[8][9][10][11]



Date Title Label
1976 First Course Epic
1977 Gentle Thoughts JVC
1977 Captain Fingers Epic
1977 Sugar Loaf Express JVC
1978 Friendship Jasrac
1978 The Captain's Journey Elektra
1979 Rio GRP
1979 Feel the Night Discovery
1979 Friendship Elektra
1981 Rit Discovery
1982 Rit 2 Discovery
1983 On the Line, with Dave Grusin GRP
1984 Banded Together Discovery
1985 Harlequin, with Dave Grusin GRP
1986 Earth Run GRP
1987 Portrait GRP
1988 Festival GRP
1989 Color Rit GRP
1990 Stolen Moments GRP
1993 Wes Bound GRP
1995 Larry & Lee, with Larry Carlton GRP
1997 Alive in L.A. GRP
1998 This Is Love I.E. Music
1999 Two Worlds Decca
2002 Rit's House GRP
2005 Overtime Peak
2006 Smoke 'n' Mirrors Peak
2008 Amparo, with Dave Grusin Decca
2010 6 String Theory Concord
2012 Rhythm Sessions Concord
2015 A Twist of Rit Concord

Charted singlesEdit

Date Title Position Chart (US)
1981 Countdown Captain Fingers 43 Dance[12]
Is It You 15 Hot 100[13]
1982 Cross My Heart 69
1993 Waiting In Vain (ft. Maxi Priest) 54 R&B[14]
2007 Smoke 'n' Mirrors 27 Smooth Jazz[15]
Forget Me Nots 14
2010 Shape of My Heart (Lee Ritenour, Steve Lukather & Andy McKee) 19
Put the Top Down (Dave Koz ft. Lee Ritenour) 1
2012 Roadtrip (Michael Lington ft. Lee Ritenour) 3
2013 The Village 3
L.A. By Bike 15
2015 A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That 5

With FourplayEdit

With L.A. WorkshopEdit

Other creditsEdit

Collections and compilation albumsEdit

  • 1980 The Best of Lee Ritenour (Epic EK 36527)
  • 1991 Collection (GRP GRD-9645)
  • 2003 The Very Best of Lee Ritenour (GRP 314-589-281-2)
  • 2003 The Best of Lee Ritenour (tracks 1–8 same as 1980 version, +3 additional tracks) (Epic EK 85795)

As sidemanEdit



  1. ^ "Biography". Lee Ritenour. January 24, 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-25. 
  2. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). Comfortably Numb. Da Capo Press. pp. 270–. ISBN 978-1-56858-383-9. Retrieved 11 December 2017. 
  3. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. Omnibus Press. pp. 80–. ISBN 978-0-7119-4301-8. Retrieved 11 December 2017. 
  4. ^ "Inside the Mind of Pink Floyd: David Gilmour". Guitar. September 1995. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 494. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 205. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  8. ^ "Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  10. ^ "11th Annual IMA Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  11. ^ "She & Him, The Black Keys, Mark Hoppus, Aimee Mann and Bettye LaVette Join Judging Panel for the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards". Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  12. ^ Lee Ritenour - Dance Club Songs
  13. ^ Lee Ritenour - Billboard Hot 100
  14. ^ Lee Ritenour - Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
  15. ^ Lee Ritenour - Smooth Jazz Songs
  16. ^ "American Flyers". October 17, 1990 – via Amazon. 

External linksEdit