40 years ago, Ranger Doug, Too Slim and the late Windy Bill Collins played that first date in Nashville … and the true professional beginnings of the band began at the Kentucky State Fair. A first wave followed, including appearances on Austin City Limits; recording contracts and guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry leading to membership in 1982; and a three-year run on The Nashville Network with a TV show called “Tumbleweed Theater,” which yet in turn led to a seven-year run on public radio with “Riders Radio Theater. People Magazine, interested in the Riders phenomenon, ran a story which happy caught the eye of a Hollywood producer.
And so the second wave broke, sending the boys to Hollywood to star in “Riders In The Sky” on CBS for a year on Saturday mornings, introducing them to yet another generation. More recordings, endless show dates, and television appearances followed for a decade before the fine folks at Pixar called and asked the quartet – by this time they had been joined by Joey the Cowpolka King – to sing a tune called “Woody’s Roundup” in the movie “Toy Story 2.”
Thus, the third wave began, highlighted by a number of projects for Disney, including two albums, both of which won GRAMMY Awards!The creation of satellite radio has recently given them a new platform, as they continue to produce episodes of the award winning “Classic Cowboy Corral” on Sirius/XM.What began as a celebration of classic Western Music and an evening of hilarity has become a career, and that career has become a legend, one which, 40 years on, shows no signs of stopping or even slowing down much.