Stan Jones (June 5, 1914 – December 13, 1963) was an American songwriter and actor, primarily writing Western music. He is best remembered for writing the legendary "Ghost Riders in the Sky", which has been called the #1 Western song ever written.
In his free time he wrote songs on his four string Martin tenor guitar tuned DGBE, and eventually more than 100 were recorded. His most famous, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", was written in 1948 when he worked for the National Park Service in Death Valley, California. Assigned as technical advisor to the filming of Three Godfathers, he became friends with director John Ford, who opened his way into Hollywood.
Jones wrote almost entirely Western music. He composed songs for several Western movies by Ford and others producers, including The Searchers and Rio Grande. He also played small parts in several westerns.
In 1955 Jones began writing for Disney Studios. He was co-writer of the theme song for the television series Cheyenne, and in 1956 was hired to play Deputy Harry Olson in the syndicated television series Sheriff of Cochise (1956–1958), which starred John Bromfield as law enforcement officer Frank Morgan. After its first season, Sheriff of Cochise was renamed by Desilu Studios owner Desi Arnaz, Sr., as U.S. Marshal. Jones wrote again for John Ford's Civil War film The Horse Soldiers, in which he made an uncredited appearance as Ulysses S. Grant. The following year, he returned to working for Disney Studios. One major role for him was in playing the part of Wilson Brown, a Union soldier and locomotive engineer who was a member of the Andrews Raid depicted in Disney's film The Great Locomotive Chase. In his final film, Ten Who Dared, Jones appeared as Seneca Howland, a member of John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition. He also is credited for song writing for this film.
Three of his songs, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", the theme from "The Searchers", and "Cowpoke" were chosen by members of the Western Writers of America as being among the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
Michael K. Ward's book, Stan Jones "The Singing Ranger" Ghost Riders in the Sky, (order it on Amazon here) is highly recommended if you want to read an amazing story about how a four string tenor guitar player, in the middle of nowhere, gets discovered and encouraged by Randolph Scott, goes to Hollywood, meets Eden Ahbez (author or "Nature Boy") and hands him an acetate that Eden gives to Burl Ives, and the rest of the story, as they say, becomes history.
It is with great pride and honor that the Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame Advisory Board, under the auspices of the Tenor Guitar Foundation, will induct STAN JONES "THE SINGING RANGER" into the Tenor Guitar Hall of Fame on May 28, 2015.
Listen to Lowell "Banana" Levinger play Ghost Riders in the Sky on his five string tenor guitar.
Listen to Stan Jones original recording of Ghost Riders in te Sky.
Listen to Burl Ives recording of Ghost Riders in the Sky.
Listen to Vaughn Monroe recording of Ghost Riders in the Sky.