Western Division, Rich Paschall

While westerns may have fallen out of favor in recent decades, there were a lot of them in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.  Many brought great theme songs to television and I will offer you my favorites here.

If I could not recall the tune without finding it online, I could not consider it for my Top 10.  I did uncover quite a few that I had forgotten.  Perhaps you can suggest more in the comments below.


The Lone Ranger had a great theme, but it was actually Gioachino Rossini‘s Guillaume Tell, better known as The William Tell Overture.

Gene Autry and Ray Whitley wrote Back in the Saddle Again, not to be confused with the Aerosmith tune, Back in the Saddle.  Autry’s 1939 song was so much associated with him that it seemed logical to use it for his 1950’s era television show.

Roy Rogers Show. Dale Evans wrote Happy Trails which was used for the Roy Rogers radio and later television show in the 1950s.  The show starred Rogers and Evans who were married and extremely popular country and western stars.  The song was released in 1952 and has been covered by many artists.


10. The Wild, Wild West.  Nope, not the one by Will Smith for his movie version of this television series. This one is a classic.

9. The High Chaparral. The television series began on NBC in 1967 and had a theme that invoked the great outdoors. This music would have fit nicely into many of the great western movie epics.

8. Bat Masterson “Back when the west was very young…” a cool guy used his cane rather than a gun. I could sing along with this one every week.

7. Wagon Train. Wagons Ho was actually the third theme for this show. The season one (1957) theme gave way to another in season two and that was changed to an instrumental version as the season went along. Season three introduced the theme you probably would remember.

6. Zorro was “The fox so cunning and free.” The Disney produced show premiered in 1957 and only lasted two years but the song lives on.

5. Have Gun Will Travel. The Ballad of Paladin. This was actually the closing theme, written by Johnny Western (a stage name, perhaps?), Sam Rolfe and the show’s star, Richard Boone.

4. The Big Valley  This western was not only in a big valley, it had a big name cast led by movie star Barbara Stanwyck.  The theme was by George Duning.

3. Maverick  “Who is the tall dark stranger there?”  Well, the cast of Mavericks kept changing.  Initially it was James Garner and after 8 weeks a brother played by Jack Kelly came along.  There were  4 brothers and a cousin (Roger Moore) by the time they were through.  The theme was by David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster.

2. Bonanza, by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.  These two were well acquainted with hits, including the famous Mr. Ed.

1. Rawhide.  The hit tune sung by Frankie Laine was famously covered by the Blues Brothers in their first movie.

See also: “The Television Western,” rjptalk, Sunday Night Blog.

29 thoughts on “MORE TOP TELEVISION THEME SONGS – Rich Paschall

  1. Reblogged this on rjptalk and commented:

    The television western may be a genre of yesteryear, but some of the epic theme songs live on. Be sure to click on “View Original Post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for my Top Ten.


  2. Even though this was NOT the theme song for a TV show, it SHOULD have been. The Frankie Laine version is only a partial version and the Johnny Cash one has not only the other verses, but much better volume. I’ve always thought they could make this one (as well as Pancho and Lefty) into movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bonanza actually had lyrics. They ran once. They were so bad the producers pulled them and they never aired again.

    We chased lady luck, ’til we finally struck Bonanza.
    With a gun and a rope and a hat full of hope, planted a family tree.
    We got hold of a pot full of gold, Bonanza.
    With a horse and a saddle, and a range full of cattle, how rich can a fellow be?

    On this land we put our brand, Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim.
    Here in the West, we’re livin’ the best, Bonanza
    If anyone fights any one of us, he’s go a fight with me

    Hoss and Joe and Adam know every rock and pine, no one works, fights, or eats, like those boys of mine.
    Here we stand in the middle of a grand Bonanza.
    With a gun and a rope and a hat full of hope, we planted our family tree
    We got hold of a pot full of gold, Bonanza.

    With a houseful of friends where the rainbow ends, how rich can a fellow be?
    On this land we put our brand, Cartwright is the name, fortune smiled, the day we filed the Ponderosa claim.
    Here in the west we’re livin’ in the best Bonanza.

    With the friendliest, fightingist, loving band, that ever set foot in the promised land
    And we’re happier than them all.
    That’s why we call it Bonanza…Bonanza…Bonanza…
    Copyright: Lyrics © Original Writer and Publisher


    Liked by 2 people

    • Pancho, good stuff. Pernell Roberts had a nice singing voice. Showed it off in guest stints like “The Big Valley” where he played an Irish rebel. Lorne/Larry Greenberg Green of course had a top 10 hit with “Big, Bad John” (Am I confusing him with someone else)
      I loved Billy Crystal and his “City Slickers” pals singing the “Bonanza” theme as they rode on the dude ranch.
      Did we have a theme, Pancho?


      • Jimmy Dean, the sausage king, sang Big, Bad John. I think my brother had the 45. The B side was I Won’t Go Huntin’ With You Jake (But I’ll Go Chasin’ Wimmin). I think that might be incorrect today.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I kind of thought this might be a slow day. Everyone is glued to the television. It’s OMG — Super Bowl Day! And if you live in New England, since the Pats are up, win or lose, you ARE going to watch, even if it’s just a piece of the show. We’ve agreed to watch the second half because Garry, after too many years of losing Dodgers, Mets, and Red Sox, believes you should never watch the beginning. It will either bum you out or make you think you’re going to win only to dash your hopes in the end. He will probably NEVER recover.

    I want you to know that I can sing ALL of those cowboy ditties. Every last one of them, word for word.

    I THINK (but am not sure) that this is the complete version by Johnny Western. No one ever plays that second verse. Johnny Western WAS his name, or at least his “stage” name. He cut whole albums using that name. This version seems to be pretty much the same as the one you’ve got, but hey, you can’t have too much Paladin.

    Did you ever notice that Paladin’s horses dropped dead on him with some regularity? Everyone else rode ful tilt in the desert and the horse didn’t have a problem. Paladin’s horses up and died. I didn’t like dying horses, but at least it was realistic. Horses cannot ride full tilt in a hot, dry desert for hours at a time and not collapse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed the Paladin is often without a horse. How did he always get back to San Francisco?
      Johnny Westerlund from Twin Harbor, MN is his real name. Johnny Western does sound much better for a country western singer.


    • By the way, John is going to a Super Bowl party although he knows nothing about the game. He does know Maroon 5 will perform at half time.
      I will watch it at home and think the Pats are the likely winner.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rich, a great list. I’m just getting on line now with “the game” knotted at 3-3 in the 3rd quarter. Looks like a nail biter as I feared. Now, it’s 10-3, Pats. Still a squeaker. Didn’t you love Brady’s “Hamlet” bit?
        Nice pickup on Johnny Western. I had a Johnny Western LP which featured the cowboy classics.
        The best may be Marty Robbins’ LP – “Gunfighter Ballads”. Includes “Streets of Laredo”. “They’re Hanging Me Tonight”, “Cool Water”, “Do Not Forsake me, O’ My Darlin’”, “Ride, Cowboy, Ride”, “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds” “Red River Valley”, “My Darlin’ Clementine”.
        Other TV western themes – “Lawman” — “The lawman came with a gun..there was a job to be done..” I loved John Russel’s Marshall Dan Troop. They actually aged Russell to make him look middle aged. Russell was an underated actor who Clint Eastwood appreciated – casting him as the head of the gunslingers in “Pale Rider”.
        “The Restless Gun” had a nice, mournful theme for John Payne’s Vint Bonner hero.
        Johnny Cash sang “The Rebel” theme song for hero Nick Adams.
        “Cheyenne” — “Cheyenne, lonely man, Cheyenne, where do you wander—where will it be—Cheyenne”
        “A Man Called Shenandoah” – star Robert Horton shows off a nice singing voice with his rendition of “Shenandoah”. I liked Horton and wished the series had run longer.
        “Wyatt Earp” HUGE O’Brien. “Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp…brave, courageous and bold (bald?)…long live his fame, long live his glory….long may his story be told”. When I met O’Brien, he was flacking a boy’s club. And admitted wearing a girdle that was “killing” him. ..”Long may his story be told”.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: THE TELEVISION WESTERN | rjptalk

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