Riders in the Sky

2008 Honorary Members

Who’d have thought that when Riders In The Sky first climbed into the saddle they’d be getting back into it again and again and again, 30 years in a row now. And not yet a single saddle sore! In 1977 the “western” part of “country and western” had shriveled on the cactus. That was the year that fearless cowhands Ranger Doug, Too Slim, and Woody Paul first came riding to the rescue of a form of American music and culture that was in danger of being forgotten – the songs, stories, legends, and myths of the American West. Their saddlebags were loaded with an impeccable sense of harmony; superior musicianship; a knack for storytelling; comic timing of the highest order; consummate professionalism; inventive and compelling songwriting; an intelligent and informed approach to their material; and the best yodeling this side of the High Sierras. And after Joey the Cowpolka King wandered into camp, with his trusty “stomach Steinway” – his “belly Bösendorfer” – slung around his neck, the sound and the legend was complete, for he squeezed fresh bellows of mesquite-scented wind devils into the melodies and sprinkled new cowwit into the entertaining stew simmering away down there on Harmony Ranch. More than thirty years later, we are here as evidence that the nation’s love for Western music is alive and well. And we are here to honor Riders In The Sky – the reasons for that abiding health. Their accomplishments would fill a whole train of Conestogas:

  • Over 5500 concert appearances in all fifty American states and ten countries, from county fairs to Carnegie Hall to multiple appearances with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.
  • Coveted membership in the Grand Ole Opry in 1982.
  • Weekly television shows on TNN and CBS.
  • “Woody’s Round Up” in Toy Story 2 (ask your kids or your grandkids about the importance of that! )
  • “Ranger Doug’s Classic Cowboy Corral” on XM Satellite Radio.
  • Grammies for the music to Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc.
  • The long-running “Riders Radio Theatre” on public radio.
  • More than two dozen released recordings.
  • And rumor has it that the author of the definitive “History of the Singing Cowboy,” titled Singing in the Saddle (published 2002), Douglas B. Green, is some blood relation to “Ranger Douglas B. Green.”

No singers, songwriters, musicians, or cowpokes are more deserving of the special attention we pay Riders In The Sky tonight. By their talent, hard work, accomplishments, dedication, compassion, and humanity are we all blessed. The Society for American Music is deeply honored to welcome Riders In The Sky into membership in our society of lovers of America’s music, whether Northern, Southern, Eastern, or – especially – Western!

Citation written by Dale Cockrell