‘Bonanza’: Listen to Ben Cartwright Actor Lorne Greene’s Sole No. 1 Hit, ‘Ringo’

by Madison Miller
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On “Bonanza,” Lorne Greene had brought Ben Cartwright to life. He was the patriarch of the Cartwright family.

“Bonanza” was different from other Westerns of the time period. It focused more on the family and the relationships between Ben and his three sons. It was about a lot of the social issues at play during the show’s run.

Lorne Greene was in all but 14 of the “Bonanza” episodes. He was a widowed man who would often recall his late wives, but like many Westerns, women were killed off before marriage could happen.

He was a steady and consistent character on television and is often ranked amongst some of TV’s favorite dads. While he’s memorable for his appearance as Ben Cartwright, he also had a music career that was successful in his own right.

Lorne Greene and His Hit

Greene did manage to make one No. 1 hit in 1964. The song came out right in the middle of his 14-season run with “Bonanza.”

The song tells the story of a Western lawman and his struggles against a notorious gunfighter named Ringo. The song is fittingly called “Ringo” after this gunfighter.

Throughout the song, the only word that is sung is “Ringo” by some kind of male chorus. Lorne Greene’s buttery smooth and deep voice tells the story over instrumental music. It seems like even in his musical endeavors, Greene was hooked on Western storytelling.

The song reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts on December 5, 1964, and was also on the “Easy Listening” chart. Some would consider this a “talking song” or even “talking blues.”

“Alice’s Restaurant,” “Fire Coming out of the Monkey’s Head,” “The Balance,” and “Once in a Lifetime” are all examples of songs with a speaking voice, flat-toned lyrical element.

Other Songs from Greene

While he only had one No. 1 hit, Lorne Greene did make other music during his life. He released 10 different albums, ranging from 1961 to 1966.

According to MeTV, Greene released an album called “Welcome to the Ponderosa.” This is the album that featured his popular song “Ringo.”

However, the song “Saga of the Ponderosa” also in this album gives a complete breakdown of the Cartwright family’s lives. From death to babies to running the land, Greene tells the story many “Bonanza” fans are familiar with.

In addition, Greene once released a holiday album in 1965 called “Have a Happy Holiday.” It features a calm and tender song called “The Gift of the Magi.”

Other albums from Greene include “Robin Hood of El Dorado,” “Young at Heart,” “Peter and the Wolf,” and “Portrait of the West.”

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