(Ghost) Riders In the Sky

Album: Ghost Riders (1980)
Charted: 31


  • This was written and originally recorded by Stan Jones in 1948. Jones was a forest ranger who wrote songs on the side. After recording his version of the song, artists like Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Gene Autry and Johnny Cash all recorded it, and the song became a cowboy standard.
  • The melody is based on the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
  • The song presents an image of cowboy hell - riders who are doomed to chase the Devil's cattle for all eternity.

Comments: 25

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1979 {July 22nd} "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky" by Johnny Cash peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, for the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "You're The Only One" by Dolly Parton...
    And on August 11th, 1979 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM Country Singles chart...
    Between 1955 and 2003 the Kingsland, Arkansas native had one hundred-twelve records on the Billboard Hot Country charts, forty-four made the Top 10 with thirteen reaching #1, plus he had seven peak at #2...
    Ten of his one hundred-twelve charted records were duets, eight with June Carter Cash and two with Waylon Jennings...
    He had three charted records as a member of the super quartet, The Highwaymen...
    'The Man in Black' passed away at the age of 71 on September 12th, 2003...
    May Mr. Cash, June Carter Cash {1929 – 2003} and Waylon Jennings {1937 – 2002} all R.I.P.
    * "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky" was Johnny's seventh of nine of his records to peak at #2 on the Hot Country Singles chart...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of the Hot Country Singles' Top 10 on July 22nd, 1979:
    At #3. "Shadows In The Moonlight" by Anne Murray
    #4. "Save The Last Dance For Me" by Emmylou Harris
    #5. "Suspicions" by Eddie Rabbit
    #6. "Coca Cola Cowboy" by Mel Tillis
    #7. "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr.
    #8. "Amanda" by Waylon Jennings
    #9. "No One Else In The World" by Tammy Wynette
    #10. "Pick The Wildwood Flower" by Gene Watson
  • Dennis from Kansas City, MoI don't know if it ever made it on the charts, but my favorite version is by "The Sons of the Pioneers", follow very closely by the Marty Robbins version. And the many other versions after that. Thanks for allowing me to put in my two cents worth.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1949 {June 4th} "Riders In The Sky"* by Peggy Lee peaked at #2* {for 1 week} on Billboard's 'Records Most-Played By Disk Jockeys'* chart, for the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was Vaughn Monroe's version of "Riders In The Sky"...
    Ms. Lee's version "Riders In The Sky" reached #1 in Australia...
    Between 1941 and 1969 the Jamestown, North Dakota native had fifty five records on the Billboard charts, twelve made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place" 1941 and "Manana" 1948...
    One of her fifty five charted records was a duet, with Mel Torme {"The Old Master Painter", #9 in 1950}...
    Peggy Lee, born Norma Deloris Egstrom, passed away at the age of 81 on January 21st, 2002...
    May she R.I.P.
    * "Riders In The Sky" was Peggy Lee's second of two of her records to peak at #2, her other #2 record was "Golden Earrings" for one week in January of 1948...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of the 'Most-Played By Jockeys' Top 10 on June 4th, 1949:
    At #3. "Again" by Gordon Jenkins
    #4. "Again" by Doris Day and the Mellomen
    #5. "'A' - You're Adorable" by Perry Como with the Fontane Sisters
    #6. "Careless Hands" by Mel Torme
    #7. "Forever and Ever" by Perry Como
    #8. "Again" by Vic Damone
    #9. "Again" by Mel Torme
    #10. "Forever and Ever" by Russ Morgan with vocals by the Skylarks
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaOn June 20, 1980, I saw the Outlaws with 100,000 others at old JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on a bill with .38 Special, Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchett, and the Allmans. The early morning started with rain but, by the time .38 Special took the stage around noon, the sun was back and it was hot.

    JFK stadium was condemned and demolished less then 10 years later and it was definitely a dinosaur even then with just an endless expanse of concrete and bench seats exposed to the sun and not nearly enough cover or facilities for a fraction of the 100,000 who were there. As a result, 100,000 of us spent the afternoon positively baking under that sun and humidity that was (seemingly) at least 1,000%. The Outlaws were the last band up probably around 5 pm, and the crowd was wilted by then. We were doing our best, but the sun and the heat and humidity had gotten the best of us. Then, a miracle slowly began to unfold. The sky started to darken. The sun was quickly blotted out and a relatively cool breeze blew across the crowd. We were already used up by the heat, but this sure helped the crowd get a bit of their mojo back. The band was in top form which helped even more. They ran through a scorching set and as the band left the stage and through the interlude before the encore, the wind picked up, cooling things off even more, and giving us even more of our mojo back. We could now also hear thunder rumbling and see lightning flashes, which only made the newly energized crowd even more raucous. The band finally returned for the encore and the crowd exploded. Then, the coolest thing ever happened.

    Literally the second they strummed the first chords of “Ghost Riders...”, the heavens opened up and a wonderful cooling rain drenched us all. Five hours of the hot sun sucking the life out of disappeared in an instant. The band ripped through an white hot version of this song, while 100,000 fan, intoxicated by the cooling rain and amazing music coming out the PA, stood raptly... Nobody cheered. Nobody chanted. Nobody much cared that we were soaking wet and probably about to get struck by lightning. We just watched and listened and enjoyed. It was.. as a local DJ later described... downright religious. When the song was over, it was like we were completely renewed. I thought the cheering at the end of the song was so loud and so long I thought it was going the bring the stadium down like the walls of Jericho.

    Amazing day. Amazing song. Amazing band.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 8th 1961, the Ramrods performed an instrumental covered version of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #55 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and a week later it peaked at #30 {for 1 week} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    It was the group's only Top 100 record...
    Later in 1961 on September 25th Lawrence Welk's version of the song would enter the Top 100 at #91; and for the next two weeks it would be at #87 and then would fall completely of the chart.
  • Patrick from Bremen, GaSpike Jones (best known for "Der Fuehrer's Face" and "Cocktails For Two") recorded a version that made fun of Vaughn Monroe's version. Marty Robbins also recorded a version I like because it's slower than others, and a bit haunting.
  • Jorge from Bronx, NyThe Outlaws and Johhny Cash i have,Haven't heard the other version yet,but the movie sucked,lol
  • Beck from Vancouver, BcThere is an awful cover done by a heavy metal group called "Cradle of Filth". The Canadian group, Captain Tractor, has a version w/alternate lyrics.
  • Marcus from Columbus, OhThis was done first with Vaughn Monroe & covered by various groups & people. The Ramrods did a good instrutmental featuring sound effects with calls noises & mooing cattle. This is something to see if you are high or not. The equalivent of that is a Funeral Caravan and it's 2 miles long and one person in a car warns the onlooker to change his way or ends up being part of the funeral caravan. This is a classic tune. Marcus Brainard
  • Norma from Signal Mt, TnI was born in'43 and my earliest memories of this song were hearing my Uncles,The Bald Eagles (Hartman Brothers) sing a version that they got from the Sons of the pioneers.I could not have been more than 5 or 6 years old at the time.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 14th, 1949 "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" by Vaughn Monroe reached No. 1 and stayed in the top spot for 11 consecutive weeks!!! {NOTE: The actual offical named is: "{Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend"}
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe British band "The Shadows" have a great version of this song on You Tube!!!
  • Shawn from Prescott, AzJohnny cash has the best version of the song.
  • Slyar from Coolidge, AzI like willy nelson and jhonny cash do this song together.
  • Lester from New York City, NyThe guy that sings this song the best is Vaughn Monroe
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThe Outlaws did it well, but no one could better the Man in Black's eerie basso profundo vocals on his version.
  • Charles from Rialto, CaDeborah Harry of Blondie fame did this song for the movie 3 Businessmen in which I have the soundtrack to
  • Heather from London, United Kingdomi loved this song ever since i watched ghost ridder me and my dad love it cher! <3
  • Dave from Des Moines, IaThe Ramrods, a surf-instrumental band did a nice version of this song in the early 60's. It broke the top 40 but was not a huge hit. The surf bit actually adds a lot to the song as well as the synch sound effects
  • Gerardo from Monterrey, MexicoThe Cash's version is simply the best. I think that the main character was seduced by the dark side.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrLove Cashes version.
  • Chris from Milford, Cthughie left skynyrd and is now back on tour with the outlaws
  • Ken Spooner from Nashville, TnIt was also recorded by Vaugn Monroe in 49 or early 50's and the Ramrods as an instrumental circa 1962
  • Chris from Troy, MiThe song was indeed written and recorded by Stan Jones, but the year was 1949.
  • Dan from Lee, NhHughie Thomasson of the Outlaws later moved on to Lynyrd Skynrd.
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