Riders in the Sky (band)

Riders in the Sky

Riders in the Sky appearing at the Ponca Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma on September 29, 2007 at a concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gene Autry. From left to right are Joey the Cow Polka King, Woody Paul, Ranger Doug and Too Slim.
Background information
Origin Nashville, TN
Genres Western swing, Children's music, Country
Years active 1977–present
Labels Rounder, MCA, CBS, Epic, Disney, Rykodisc
Website www.ridersinthesky.com
Members Douglas B. Green
Paul Chrisman
Fred LaBour
Joey Miskulin

Riders in the Sky is an American Western music and comedy group which began performing in 1977.[1] Their style also appeals to children, and they are sometimes considered a children's band. They have won two Grammy Awards and have written and performed music for major motion pictures, including "Woody's Roundup" from Toy Story 2 and Pixar's short film, For the Birds.


First Performance and Members

The Riders first performed on November 11, 1977 at Herr Harry's Franks and Steins in Nashville, TN. For this first performance, the Riders consisted of Deputy Doug (Douglas B. Green), Windy Bill Collins, and Fred LaBour. Happy with the crowds reaction, the Riders performed for the second time at Herr Harry's the next evening. Between the second and third performances, the band still didn't have a name, but that changed in December 1977, when Fred LaBour found a copy of The Sons of The Pioneers album: Riders In The Sky. When LaBour saw the album, he immediately called Green and told him that Riders In The Sky should be the band's name. Green agreed and from their third performance on, they were officially billed as Riders In The Sky. In 1978, Bill Collins left the Riders shortly after "Tumbleweed Tommy" Goldsmith joined. Shortly after Collins left, "Woody Paul" Chrisman also joined the band. In mid-1979, Tommy Goldsmith left the Riders shortly before the recording of their first album, which would become Three on The Trail. The band remained a trio throughout most of the 1980s until Joey Miskulin became an official member in the late 80s. At most performances, the members are introduced as "Too Slim: The Man of Many Hats" (sometimes introduced as "The Man With A Dozen Friends"), "Woody Paul: The King of The Cowboy Fiddlers", "Ranger Doug: The Idol of American Youth" (sometimes introduced as "Governor of The Great State of Rhythm"), and "Joey The Cowpolka King".

In their first 35-plus years, Riders in the Sky have performed in over 6200 live performances, almost 300 national television appearances, over 200 public radio shows, 700 Grand Ole Opry appearances, three television series: Tumbleweed Theater(1983-1988), Riders Radio Theater: The TV Series(Occasional specials from the early-to-mid-1990s), and Riders In The Sky(1991). The Riders appeared in animated form on an episode of "Duck Dodgers" on Cartoon Network and have released more than 30 albums. The group also wrote and appeared in numerous Christmas specials on TNN and CMT in the 1990s. They are based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Riders Radio Theater was the Riders in the Sky's radio show. It originated in Nashville, with WPLN-FM as the presenting station, but later moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and can now be heard on WMKV, iTunes, and the official Riders In The Sky SoundCloud page.[2]

Riders in the Sky perform authentic renditions of old classic cowboy and Western songs, as well as original works and various comedic skits and songs. Their sketches often include allusions to something being done in a dishonest or lazy manner; with Ranger Doug typically responding to this observation by saying "You fellers know that that would be the easy way. But it wouldn't be the cowboy way!"

Riders in the Sky performed with America's Got Talent finalist Taylor Ware at the Grand Ole Opry when she was nine years old. They also appeared in an episode of Barney & Friends.

The Riders recently appeared as musical spokesmen in a series of Yella Wood commercials. These popular ads spoof the 1930s era Western singing cowboy serials.


Ranger Doug (Douglas B. Green) performs at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma on November 7, 2008
Woody Paul (Paul Woodrow Chrisman)
Too Slim (Fred LaBour)
Joey the Cowpolka King (Joey Miskulin)

Riders in the Sky were named Western Music Group of the Year during the Academy of Western Artists 2006 Will Rogers Awards.


Title Type Release date Label
Three on the Trail studio 1979 Rounder Records
Cowboy Jubilee studio 1981 Rounder Records
Prairie Serenade studio 1982 Rounder Records
Weeds & Water studio 1983 Rounder Records
Riders in the Sky, Live live 1984 Rounder Records
New Trails studio 1986 Rounder Records
Saddle Pals studio 1987 Rounder Records
Best of the West (album) best of 1987 Rounder Records
Best of the West Rides Again best of October 25, 1990 Rounder Records
The Cowboy Way (album) live 1987 MCA
Riders Radio Theater (album) studio June 27, 1988 MCA
Riders go Commercial studio June 19, 1989 MCA
Horse Opera studio 1990 MCA
Harmony Ranch studio 1991 CBS
Merry Christmas from Harmony Ranch studio 1992 CBS
Saturday Morning with Riders best of 1992 MCA
Cowboys in Love studio 1994 Epic Records
Always Drink Upstream from the Herd studio October 31, 1995 Rounder Records
Cowboy Songs best of 20 August 1996 Rounder Records
Public Cowboy#1: The Music of Gene Autry tribute October 20, 1996 Rounder Records
Yodel the Cowboy Way best of 1998 Rounder Records
Great Big Western Howdy! studio July 14, 1998 Rounder Records
Christmas the Cowboy Way studio October 5, 1999 Rounder Records
Woody's Roundup: A Rootin' Tootin' Collection of Woody's Favorite Songs studio August 29, 2000 Disney
A Pair of Kings studio February 19, 2002 Oh Boy Records
Ridin' the Tweetsie Railroad studio 2002 Self Released
Monsters, Inc. Scream Factory Favorites studio August 27, 2002 Disney
Riders in the Sky Silver Jubilee studio 2003 Acoustic Disc
Riders in the Sky Present: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier studio August 3, 2004 Rounder Records
Riders in the Sky Live from the Golden Age of Riders Radio Theater studio 2006 Riders Radio Records
Riders in the Sky "Lassoed Live" at the Schermerhorn with the Nashville Symphony live 2009 Nashville Symphony
The Land Beyond The Sun studio 2011 Riders Radio Records
America’s Favorite Cowboy Songs studio 2012 Cracker Barrel
Home On The Range studio 2013 Riders Radio Records



  1. show 189 of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour The answer to when they first began performing is given as November 11, 1977 19 minutes into the video which includes conversation and performance; taped 01-07-2002. Audio can also be had at this archive page Archived March 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Riders Radio Theater". SoundCloud. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
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