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1940s / (Ghost) Riders in the Sky
"(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a country and cowboy-style song. It was written on June 5, 1948 by Stan Jones. A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949. The ASCAP database lists the song as "Riders in the Sky" (title code: 480028324), but the title has been written as "Ghost Riders", "Ghost Riders in the Sky", and "A Cowboy Legend". [#2 country, #1 pop, 1949] Bucky Pizzarelli and Don Costa were on the original recording session in Chicago. 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 warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever "trying to catch the Devil's herd across these endless skies". Jones said that he had been told the story when he was 12 years old by an old cowboy friend. The story resembles the northern European mythic Wild Hunt. The melody is based on the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home". According to Robby Krieger, it inspired the classic Doors song "Riders on the Storm". The song was also the inspiration for the Marvel Comics Western character "Ghost Rider" later renamed Phantom Rider (not to be confused with the later character named "Ghost Rider").