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Who Is Ryan Bingham? Get to Know the Ex-Bull Rider, Singer & Actor Who Plays Walker on ‘Yellowstone’

Cowboy turned crooner turned actor Ryan Bingham has lived many lives. Born in New Mexico, the 43-year-old multi talent spent his youth jumping from place to place. “We shuffled around West Texas,” he told Texas Monthly in 2009. “I went to Houston and Laredo and back up around Fort Worth and back to West Texas and everywhere in between, just living out of packing boxes.”

Bingham’s earliest career venture was in the rodeo scene. His uncle, who rode bulls as a profession, was the one who first introduced him to it and by the age of 13, he was moving up the ranks.

“When I turned thirteen, I moved up to the junior bull scale,” he told Texas Monthly. “They didn’t really classify them by how big they were but how bad they were. The first time I got on one of the big boys I was absolutely terrified but excited at the same time.”

Although a talented bull-rider, it was difficult to make a living and required him to work side jobs to subsidize his income. It was during his time on the rodeo scene that he took an interest in music, writing songs on the road while headed out to rodeos.

Bingham in 2008
Bingham in 2008Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Ryan Bingham music career

Receiving his first guitar at age 16 opened new doors for Bingham. While the initial days of his music career weren’t atypical — playing across various bars and honky tonks — they were still influential.

When I began all this, I was playing road houses around America, the kind of places where most people didn’t go to listen to music: they went there to get drunk and fight,” he told The Line of Best Fit in 2019. “I often sang over the sound of smashing glass.”

Luckily, things worked out in his favor, and since those early days of smashing glass, Bingham can say he’s produced music he’s proud of — and music people genuinely enjoy. In 2009, he accepted an Academy Award for his song “The Weary Kind,” from the film Crazy Heart.

Ryan Bingham, 2010
Ryan Bingham, 2010Jason Merritt/Getty Images

I was touring around the country in a van with my buddies playing bars and honky-tonks; then all of a sudden, I’m at the Oscars wearing a tuxedo,” he recalled to Cowboys & Indians. “Afterward, the floodgates just opened up to opportunities, introductions, and different projects. That’s led all the way up to Taylor Sheridan and working on Yellowstone. It was a life-altering thing.”

Bingham on ‘Yellowstone’

Bingham took on the role of the controversial Walker, a ranch hand at the Yellowstone, after Taylor Sheridan approached him about making music for the show. However, when the show runner learned of Bingham’s cowboy past, the role of Walker was his.

The singer in 2019
Ryan Bingham, 2019Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“When he discovered my family ranched and I used to ride bulls, he said, ‘Well, shoot. We gotta get you in the show. If you’re good, we’ll keep you on. If you suck, we’ll kill you off.’ I’m not dead yet,” he told Cowboys & Indians.

Outside of his career, Bingham recently tied the knot with his on-screen love interest Hassie Harrison, who plays the role of Laramie in the hit western series. As for what’s next for him both in terms of his music and his work on the screen, we will just have to wait and see!

Ryan Bingham and Hassie Harrison, 2023
Ryan Bingham and Hassie Harrison, 2023Greg Doherty/Getty Images for Bingham's Bourbon

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