The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1578   Message #5398
Posted By:
19-May-97 - 06:43 PM
Thread Name: Query: Ghost Riders
Subject: RE: Query: Ghost Riders
The following excerpted from "FOR A COWBOY HAS TO SING" by Jim Bob Tinsley.

..Stan Jones and an old cowpoke named "Cap" Watts were out riding one day on the D Hill range in southern Arizona - there was unrest in the air. They began to tie down the blades on a windmill when masses of dark, fast-moving clouds appeared on the horizon forming spectral figures. "Cap" Watts warned prophetically - "Ghost riders".

..Ghost riders are bad omens in the cattle country. They generally appear when fast-moving cold air from one direction collides with warm air from a different direction, a condition that sometimes generates a series of tornadoes. Ominous cloud sillouettes, grouping, regrouping, and backlighted with vellow and sun-red accents, look to the imaginative mind like nothing more than a line of riders racing through the ragged skies. On this day. while helping to secure the windmill from possible wind damage, the youthful Jones heard for the first time the ghostly account of phantom riders in the sky trying to catch the devil's herd. He never forgot the story. And it became the theme for one of the most haunting cowboy songs of all times.

.."Cap" Watts worked at times for the D Hill Ranch near Douglas, Arizona. The Texas-born cowboy operated his own "saddle blanket" outfit in the Perilla Mountains east of Douglas for awhile. The grizzled cowboy died in 1934.

..Stanley Davis Jones was born on 5 June 1914 in Douglas. Arizona. He served his country in the U.S. Navy during World War II and earned a degree in Zoology at the University of California. While working as a park ranger in Death Valley in 1949, Jones acted as a guide for movie location scouts during the filming of "Three Godfathers", starring John Wayne. Harry Carey, Jr. and Pedro Armendariz. He had learned the fundamentals of guitar playing from Arizona cowboys, so it was only natural that he treat the Hollywood group to his own special brand of campfire music. With some reluctance he sang the haunting words to a song he had made up himself from the legend told by "Cap" Watts many years before.

.."Riders In The Sky" changed the life of Stan Jones almost overnight. Later in the year he appeared in the Gene Autry movie, "Riders in The Sky", Which featured his song. He also wrote the theme song and had a role in the 1951 movie "Whirlwind", starring Gene Autry. Songs for the John Ford 1950 production, "Wagonmaster", starring Ben Johnson, were written by Stan Jones and he composed the title song to the John Wayne movie "The Searchers" in 1956. He also wrote compositions for Walt Disney TV and movie films.

..The writer, actor, dreamer and creator of songs died on 13 December 1963 and was buried in his hometown of Douglas. Arizona.