Warren G. Brown

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Warren G "Freckles" Brown
BornJanuary 18, 1921
DiedMarch 20, 1987 (aged 66)
AwardsWorld Champion Bull Rider 1962

Warren Granger "Freckles" Brown (18 January 1921 – 20 March 1987) was a hall of fame American rodeo performer from Wheatland, Wyoming. His career spanned from 1937 to 1974, competing in bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, team roping, and steer wrestling. He was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) World Bull Riding Champion in 1962. Brown was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Bull Riding in 1979. Brown was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Bull Riding Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2015. Brown was most famous for riding Tornado, who had an undefeated record of 220 riders. Brown was also a close friend and mentor of Lane Frost.

Early career[edit]

In 1937 Brown started in the rodeo at Willcox, Arizona at age 16. In 1941 he rode his horse to Cody, Wyoming,—a long distance—where he won his first bull trophy, then rode back again.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

Brown enlisted to join the U.S. army, and undertook basic training in Fort Sill. He studied horseshoeing while stationed at Fort Riley. He was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and "did his part by helping to train Chinese paratroopers in secret".[1] The war ended in the summer of 1945, and Brown "returned to China to compete in a Red Cross-sponsored event in which U.S. pack mules were used in place of saddle-broncs and barebacks and native cattle were rounded up for bull riding. Brown left China with the all-around title".[1]

1962 World Championship[edit]

Brown was injured badly in October 1962 at the rodeo in Portland, Oregon. While riding a bull name "Black Smoke" for 8 seconds, the bull flipped Brown, who fell on his head, paralyzing him.[2] The doctor "pulled on his head and feeling returned to his right side and left foot". He was operated on and put in traction for 34 days, followed by a plaster cast "from his waist to the top of his brow for over 2 months". He had saved enough money to win the Championship.[3][1] His earnings in 1962 were $18,675. During that year he won the World Bull Riding Championship at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) while he was on the sidelines watching.[clarification needed]

Tornado, the unrideable bull[edit]

Brown is remembered for riding an "unrideable" bull named Tornado in December 1967.[3] The bull, owned by Jim Shoulders, had thrown over 200 riders over a 14-year period before Brown's successful ride,[4] and was considered the ultimate challenge on the bull-riding circuit, but Brown stayed on for the 8 seconds required,[5] in front of 6,000 people. Tornado died in 1972 as unridden by 220 professional riders except for Brown and two others, and was buried on the grounds of the Cowboy Hall of Fame, near two notable bucking horses, Midnight and Five Minutes Til Midnight.[6] Brown, this ride, and Tornado are all memorialized in Red Steagall's song, "Freckles Brown".[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Personal life[edit]

He was the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters. Brown had a wife named Edith, and a daughter named Donna Harrison, and two grandchildren.[3]

Brown had retired at age 53 to his 600-acre ranch in Soper, Oklahoma.[5] Brown was found to have prostate cancer in November 1982. He was advised to go to Houston for radiation treatment, but was determined to go to the December finals beforehand, where a dance was held to raise funds to support his treatment. By March 1983 he had returned home to give interviews.

His cancer returned in 1987, after being in remission for four years. Another fundraiser was planned for March 1987, but Brown died two days before at his ranch in Soper, Oklahoma. The fund raiser went forward nevertheless and US$41,000 was raised to help with Brown's medical bills.[16][17]

He was a friend and mentor to bull riding champion Lane Frost, who is buried next to him in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, Oklahoma.[7][18]


  1. ^ a b c "Stories of the Ages | Freckles Brown: The Ride". ndepth.newsok.com. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  2. ^ herzberger, alan. "The well-told story of Freckles Brown and Tornado". Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Freckles Brown". lanefrost.com.
  4. ^ "Legendary Rodeo Champion Jim Shoulders, 79". 21 June 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2017 – via washingtonpost.com.
  5. ^ a b W. K., Stratton (May 25, 1987). "Sitting Atop A Tornado: In 1967, at 46, Freckles Brown rode the unridable bull". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2010-02-24. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Tornado". The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Cathy Logan, "Freckles Brown's ride on Tornado is the stuff of songs and legends", Tulsa World, January 5, 2006.
  8. ^ "Western Heritage Awards". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Warren G. "Freckles" Brown - Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame". Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  10. ^ Joseph, Dana. "Freckles Brown".[dead link]
  11. ^ "Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductees - National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Freckles Brown". Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame". www.oldwestmuseum.org. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  14. ^ "The Bull Riders - Class of 2015". The Bull Riding Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Walk of Fame - Molalla Area Chamber of Commerce, OR". www.molallachamber.com. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  16. ^ Bates, Weston. "The legacy of Freckles Brown". Archived from the original on 2013-06-16. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  17. ^ "National Finals Rodeo | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture". www.okhistory.org. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Cowboy's funeral draws throng", AP in Tulsa World, August 3, 1989.

External links[edit]