Friday, August 24, 2012

On This Day (1912): “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” hit #1

Ragtime Cowboy Joe

Bob Roberts

Writer(s): Grant Clarke (music), Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 13, 1912

Peak: 16 PM, 12 GA (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.10 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This is a “ragtime classic” TY2 which was also “a popular western swing song” WK and has become a favorite of barbership quartets. TY2 The music was composed by Grant Clarke, who also wrote “Second Hand Rose.” Lewis F. Muir and Maurice Abrahams wrote the words, inspired by the latter’s nephew wearing a cowboy outfit. WK

The opening verse sets the stage with the line “out in Arizona where the bad men are” and the listener learns that Ragtime Cowboy Joy is “the roughest, toughest of these men.” TY2 The song features a loping melody to imitate the gait of a horse. TY2

The song has charted four times over the years. Bob Roberts was first with his chart-topping version in 1912. He was a baritone novelty singer who charted 22 times from 1903 to 1912. “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” was his final chart entry and only #1. The book Pop Memories says “this was the biggest final hit by any recording artist.” PM Other versions followed by Pinky Tomlin (#14 PM, 1939), Eddy Howard (#16 PM, 1947), Jo Stafford (#10 PM, 1949), PM and David Seville & the Chipmunks (#16 BB, 1959) Paul Whiteman recorded the song in 1940.

The song has also appeared in the movie musicals Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943) and Incendiary Blonde (1945). In 1978, Jimmy Stewart performed the song on the piano in a surprise cameo on the final Carol Burnett Show. WK It was also used as the theme song for Cowboy Joe’s Radio Ranch, a radio show which ran in New York City from 1976 to 1988. WK It is also the University of Wyoming’s fight song. WK


First posted 9/6/2023.

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