Stan Jones (songwriter)

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Stan Jones
Stanley Davis Jones

(1914-06-05)June 5, 1914
DiedDecember 13, 1963(1963-12-13) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, US
Burial placeJulia Page Memorial Park
Alma materUniversity of California at Berkeley
Occupation(s)Songwriter and actor

Stanley Davis Jones (June 5, 1914 – December 13, 1963) was an American songwriter and actor, primarily writing Western music. He is best remembered for writing "Ghost Riders in the Sky".

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Douglas, Arizona, and grew up on a ranch. His physician father was one of the first settlers in Cochise County, Arizona.[1] When his father died, his mother moved the family to Los Angeles, California. He earned a master's degree in zoology from the University of California at Berkeley[1] and competed in rodeos to make money. However, he dropped out in 1934 to join the United States Navy. After his discharge, he worked at many jobs, including as a miner, a fire fighter, and a park ranger.[2][3][4]

Musical career[edit]

In his free time he wrote songs, and eventually more than 100 were recorded. His most famous, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", was written in 1948 (or 1949)[1] when he worked for the National Park Service in Death Valley, California. As the guide for a group of Hollywood scouts who were looking at potential locations for films, he sang "Riders in the Sky" when they wanted to hear a sample of campfire music.[1]

Assigned as technical advisor to the filming of The Walking Hills, he became friends with director John Ford, who opened his way into Hollywood.[2][4]

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 Jones wrote again for John Ford's Civil War film The Horse Soldiers, in which he made an uncredited appearance as Ulysses S. Grant in the opening scene. The theme song "I Left My Love" was featured throughout the film. The following year, he returned to working for Disney Studios.[4]

He played Wilson W. Brown, a Union soldier and locomotive engineer who was a member of the Andrews Raid depicted in Disney's film The Great Locomotive Chase.[5] 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 with writing "Jolly Rovers" and "Roll Along", which he sang in this film.[6]

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.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Jones married twice. He had a daughter with his first wife, but later gave up all parental rights. His second marriage produced one son.[citation needed]


Jones died from cancer in Los Angeles in 1963 at the age of 49.[8] He was buried at Calvary Memorial Park in his hometown, Douglas.[2]


In 1997, he was posthumously inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame.[9]


Year Title Role Notes
1950 Rio Grande Sergeant
1951 Whirlwind Rider Uncredited
1952 The Last Musketeer Sheriff Blake
1956 The Great Locomotive Chase Wilson W. Brown
1956 The Rainmaker Townsman Uncredited
1959 The Horse Soldiers Gen. Ulysses S. Grant Uncredited
1960 Ten Who Dared Seneca Howland
1964 Invitation to a Gunfighter Uncredited, (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d "'Sheriff of Cochise' Star Typical for TV Role". Lansing State Journal. Michigan, Lansing. February 15, 1958. p. 18. Retrieved August 5, 2018 – via open access
  2. ^ a b c "Stan Jones". Retrieved 2015-02-07.
  3. ^ "MMC Crew: Stan Jones". The Original Mickey Mouse Club Show. Retrieved 2015-02-07.
  4. ^ a b c "Stan Jones". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Former Petaluman Home for Holidays". The Petaluma Argus-Courier. California, Petaluma. December 24, 1955. p. 7. Retrieved August 6, 2018 – via open access
  6. ^ "Stan Jones Is Triple Threat". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. June 19, 1960. p. 134. Retrieved August 6, 2018 – via open access
  7. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010.
  8. ^ Burnett, Jim (1 April 2015). "Book Review| Ghost Riders In The Sky: The Life Of Stan Jones, The Singing Ranger". National Parks Traveler. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Stan Jones". Western Music Hall of Fame Roster. Western Music Association. Retrieved 2015-02-07.

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