Sunday, August 22, 2021

Early Western TV Show Theme Songs

 Post by Doris McCraw

writing as Angela Raines

Photo Property of the Author

I've been watching old Western TV shows. Not the later Bonanza's or Lancer's but the early ones. Not only are they fun and a great way to unwind after work and before I start the writing and editing. The thing I noticed and have fun with is the theme songs. Since I enjoy them, I thought some of you might also. And if you are so inclined, you might even watch an episode or two. 

From the Robert Horton show "Shenandoah" sung by Horton himself: Shenandoah. I love how the songs give you a hint at either the show or the main character. For those who don't remember, Horton spent a number of seasons on "Wagon Train". He spent a lot of his life doing musical theater, and it shows in his voice.

Robert Horton

If you'd like to watch an episode: Shenendoah - episode McCauley's Cure

That same theme applies to most of the other shows' theme songs. How many do you remember? 

Some were catchy tunes like "Colt 45": Colt 45 sung by Hal Hopper. This show was one of the Warner Brothers' westerns. The same company that gave us Maverick, Cheyenne, and Lawman.

Wayde Preston - Star of the first season 
of "Colt 45"

Although I believe this was a black & white show, here is a colorized version guest staring a young Leonard Nimoy: Colt 45

Of course, there's "The Rebel" with the theme songs done by none other than Johnny Cash. The show starred Nick Adams, who developed the show along with Andrew J. Fenaday who also wrote the words to the theme song. The Rebel

Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma

If you'd like to watch an episode: The Rebel - The Threat

Who doesn't remember the beginning of "Have Gun Will Travel", but the end credits, oh my! This long-running show starred Richard Boone as the title character- Palladin. The theme song was composed by Richard Boone, Sam Rolfe, and Johnny Western, how also sang the song. On a side note, a friend always thought it interesting that Boone was cast as a 'sexy' man. This former boxer may not have been classically handsome, but oh the aura he projected. Ballad of Paladin

Richard Boone as Palladin

To watch a show with Have Gun Will Travel with Harry Carey Jr.

The song for "Johnny Ringo" was written both music and lyrics, along with singing it by the star Don Durant. Durant had sung with Ray Anthony and his Orchestra before starring in this television show. I always found this show, which I'd seen as a child fascinating. It was like they wanted to give this gunman a happy ending. Johnny Ringo Theme Song

Don Durant

Here is an episode from this show with Tim Considine and Mark Goddard Johnny Ringo - Bound Boy

There are so many songs from those early shows. Which ones do you remember?

Doris Gardner-McCraw -
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet


  1. Doris, I loved this! A lot of these were shows I had forgotten about. Oh, I loved "Johnny Yuma, was a Rebel..." LOL I always loved those themes for westerns, no matter what they were, because they were always so "larger than life" musically. Paladin was a favorite, of course. Now, when I think of it, I think of those four boys walking along singing it in Stand By Me. LOL

    So many good themes, whether just instrumental or those with lyrics. Maverick was a really good one, too.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Like you, I adore these songs and even like the shows they belong to. LOL I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It was great fun researching and putting it together. Doris


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