BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky,” Instrumental Versions


Welcome to Round 2 of battles featuring the Stan Jones tune “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky: A Cowboy Legend.” In our last battle, we had two vocal performances, Burl Ives and Frank Ifield, and you chose Burl’s version. In this round, we’re featuring instrumental versions, specifically versions featuring guitar work. So let’s get down to it…

CONTESTANT #1: Duane Eddy Duane, perhaps best known for “Rebel Rouser,”, did the song on his 1996 album Ghost Rider. Jim Horn is featured on saxophone.

CONTESTANT #2: The Ramrods The Ramrods were from The Nutmeg State (and appear to have chosen their name from one of Duane Eddy’s hits from 1958). They released this version in late 1960. It climbed to #30 in early 1961 and was a “Pick of the Week” in Cash Box magazine.

You know what to do now: give both versions a spin, decide which one you like better, and tell me which it is and why in the comments below. Then, stop over at Stephen T. McCarthy’s Battle of the Bands and look in the right column, where he has a clickable list of all the other blogs that might be having a Battle of the Bands today, and check them out.

I’ll announce the winner next Friday, December 22 (also known as Christmas Eve Eve Eve), so be sure and get your vote to me by then. The lines are now open. Good luck to Duane Eddy and The Ramrods!

14 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky,” Instrumental Versions

  1. I’m going to go with Duane Eddy, but the clear winner would be any version with vocals. I don’t think this songs works as an instrumental. I treated myself to the video from “Blues brothers 2000”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to have missed your previous battle. I love this song! Duane Eddy’s version was a bit too subtle for my taste. The Ramrods were more dramatic about it, which attracted me more. Please give my vote to The Ramrods.


  3. I could certainly hear Duane Eddy’s influence in the Ramrods’ version. For a moment I have expected Johnny Cash to start singing. Their version is very good.

    However, I preferred the variation and scope of the Eddy version. The sax was an interesting touch. I also liked that steady acoustic guitar backing. The accompanying ghost town video was pretty neat too and quite appropriate.

    Give a vote to Duane Eddy for me.

    Tossing It Out


  4. Well, damn, JOHN, for the second week in a row you’ve made it tough on me! The problem is that I love this song and have NEVER heard a single recording of it that I didn’t like.

    Both of these are excellent (and both have cool videos to go with them), and quite honestly, I could vote for either one depending upon my mood at the time. Duane Eddy’s is more subtle and mystically moody; The Ramrods go full bore with the dramatic approach and you can almost smell the dust!

    Truly, I could prefer EITHER ONE OF THESE at different times, depending upon how I’m felt at the moment I listened to them. For this morning, however, I think I’ll go with the smell of DUST & OLD LEATHER.

    One song, four competitors, and two great BOTB contests in a row!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents ‘Battle Of The Bands’


  5. John,

    This is song is great in an instrumental arrangement. I enjoyed both versions very much and was pretty set to go with Duane Eddy but then I went back for a second listen and that’s when I realized that it lacked that “dust in the air” present in the second rendition. So, give my vote to The Ramrods. LOL, I just saw that Stephen said something similar to me. 😀


  6. This is an excellent song, and sounds as good as an instrumental as with vocals. Though, I doubt anybody sang this as well as Johnny Cash. He used an orchestra in the background, I think. The best all instrumental version I’ve heard used brass and horns – quite possibly the Tijuana Brass. I’ve heard a female sing this song before, can’t remember who or when, but a woman singing this is just wrong.

    As for this battle, I’ve voting for the Ramrods. I like the deeper acoustic guitar, the subtle accompanying instruments, the cattle and calls. This is such an active song, it almost demands sound effects.


  7. This is a toughie for me since I love the vocal version. Diane Eddy’s version is good but it dragged on a bit. The Ramrods were good but the cow mooing was distracting. In the end I go wit( the Ramrods because their version was more engaging and fun and held my interest


  8. AWWWWWW, so close in my mind…it’s a hard choice. For the sheer vibe of it, I like Duane Eddy better – but like STMcC, I could go either way, really. I’m not so crazy about the sax part that someone mentioned, but other than that, both are good. As I have to choose, Duane Eddy gets it today…but maybe not tomorrow. Depends on my mood.

    Merry Christmas, Buddy!


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