Ghost Riders in the Sky! A Cowboy Legend with Music & Lyrics!

Ghost Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)

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Ghost Riders in the Sky!

The song tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One of the riders warns him that if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll be doomed to join them.

The song presents an image of cowboy hell with doomed riders destined to chase the Devil’s cattle for all eternity. Known by the different titles “Riders in the Sky“, “Ghost Riders“, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “A Cowboy Legend“, the song has become a Country & Western Classic!

(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” was written by Stan Jones in 1948.
Stan Jones said he heard the story when he was 12 years old from an old cowboy.
More than 50 performers have recorded their own cover versions of the song.

Burl Ives recorded the original version of the song in February, 1949:

Vaughn Monroe recorded the song in March, 1949 and it went to Number One on the Billboard charts. Here’s a live performance from 1965:

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Ghost Riders in the Sky!

(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend

An old cowboy went ridin’ out one dark and windy day
upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
when all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw
plowin’ through the ragged skies and up a cloudy draw

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
a bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
for he saw the riders comin’ hard and he heard their mournful cries

chorus:
yippie i ohhh ohh ohh, yippie i aye ye ye
ghost riders in the sky

Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred
their shirts all soaked with sweat
he’s ridin’ hard to catch that herd
but he ain’t caught em yet
’cause they got to ride forever in that range up in the sky
on horses snortin’ fire as they ride on, hear their cries

As the riders loped on by him he heard one call his name
if you want to save your soul from hell a-ridin’ on our range
then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will ride
tryin’ to catch the devil’s herd across these endless skies

yippie i ohhh oh oh, yippie i aye ye ye
ghost riders in the sky, ghost riders in the sky, ghost riders in the sky…….

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Ghost Rider in the Sky!

The Ventures made a surf rock cover of the song in 1961 and Dick Dale recorded a rockin’ version for his second album “King of the Surf Guitar” which was released in 1963.

The song inspired the 1949 Gene Autry film “Riders in the Sky”
and the film’s tag lines:
“Gene and Champion Ride To Glory!…
as the range echoes to the stirring strains of the great cowboy ballad!”

and
“A GREAT COWBOY BALLAD launches Gene on his most stirring adventure!”

Of course Gene Autry sings “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. A chance meeting with Stan Jones led Autry to buy the rights to the song, and he gave Jones a part in the film. Jones appears as a cowboy riding and singing along with Autry in the opening and closing scenes of the film. The song also inspired the 1953 film “Goldtown Ghost Riders” starring Gene Autry.

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Gene Autry, World’s Greatest Cowboy!

Gene Autry RIP (September 29, 1907 – October 2, 1998):
He made 640 recordings, including more than 300 songs written or co-written by him.
His records sold more than 100 million copies. He has been awarded more than a dozen gold and platinum records, including the first ever certified gold record.
He was awarded 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame On February 8, 1960:
for Motion Pictures, Radio, Recording, Television and Live Performance.
He is the only person with 5 stars on the Walk of Fame.
Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1972.
Inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979 as a stock contractor.
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, The National Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
He received The Songwriters Guild Life Achievement Award and was given a lifetime achievement award from ASCAP.
He was a 33rd Degree Mason, an Honorary Inspector General and was awarded the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor.

He created a code of conduct for his young fans called
“The Cowboy Code”:
1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

“The Lawrence Welk Show”
with Neil LeVang on guitar (1961):

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Johnny Cash:

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CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Elvis Presley in 1970 (in Culver City, California):

The song also inspired the horror-Western comic-book character the Ghost Rider. After Magazine Enterprises’ trademark ran out, Marvel Comics debuted its own version of the character in “Ghost Rider” #1 in February, 1967. The character was later renamed the Phantom Rider when Marvel debuted the demonic motorcyclist Ghost Rider.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

Nicolas Cage starred in the 2007 film “Ghost Rider”
and the 2012 sequel “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.”

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY
AND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO VIEW THE PIC AT FULL SIZE!

The Blues Brothers performed the song in the 1998 film “Blues Brothers 2000.” Their version appears on both the soundtrack and on the album “The Blues Brothers’ Greatest Hits of All Time.” In the film, the band is booked at a bluegrass festival and announced as “The Bluegrass Brothers”. Buster Blues’ harmonica parts were recorded by John Popper of Blues Traveler.

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Ghost Riders in the Sky!

The Tubes! Fee Waybill as Lonesome Roger Steen sings “Ghost Riders In The Sky”

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Glen Campbell & Roy Clark:

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Ghost Riders in the Sky!

The Doors “Riders on the Storm”

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The Doors – Hollywood Walk of Fame

According to The Doors’ Robby Krieger, it inspired the classic song “Riders on the Storm”

It evolved out of a jam session when the band was messing around with “Ghost Riders In the Sky” and it was Jim Morrison’s idea to alter the title to “Riders On The Storm.” It was also the last song Jim recorded. He went to France and died a few weeks later. If you listen closely, you can hear Jim whispering the lyrics over his singing. Ray Manzarek told Uncut magazine in September 2011: “There’s a whisper voice on ‘Riders on the Storm,’ if you listen closely, a whispered overdub that Jim adds beneath his vocal. That’s the last thing he ever did. An ephemeral, whispered overdub.” The single was released in June 1971, shortly before Morrison’s death.

Doors drummer John Densmore wrote an auto-biographical book called
Riders On The Storm” about his life with Jim Morrison and The Doors.



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One thought on “Ghost Riders in the Sky! A Cowboy Legend with Music & Lyrics!

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