For 30 years, the original members of Riders In The Sky have been the keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and revitalizing the old country western genre. While remaining true to the integrity of Western music, they have become modern-day icons by branding the genre with their own legendary wacky humor and way-out Western wit. The group will be performing in Don's Celebrity Theatre at the Riverside, March 5-9, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28.
Riders In The Sky's first official public performance was Nov. 11, 1977, at the Nashville nightspot Phranks & Steins. As a classic cowboy quartet, the trail has led them to heights they could have never predicted. Riders have chalked up more than 5,000 concert appearances in all 50 states and 10 countries, appearing in venues everywhere from the Nashville National Guard Armory to Carnegie Hall.
Their cowboy charisma and comedic flair landed them their own weekly show on TNN, as well as a Saturday morning series on CBS and countless TV appearances. Their animated likenesses have shared the screen with Daffy Duck on the Cartoon Network, and the Disney Channel's Stanley. They have penned award winning songs for their own albums, and written the score for Pixar Animation's 2002 Academy Award-winning short For the Birds. They composed the theme song for the Internet cartoon show Thomas Timberwolf.
The animated character they are most linked to is the loveable cowboy Woody, as Riders performed Woody's Round Up in Toy Story 2, with the album of the same name garnering Riders their first Grammy Award in 2001 for "Best Musical Album for Children." Two years later, Riders roped their second Grammy in the same category, for Monsters Inc. - Scream Factory Favorites, the companion CD to Pixar's award-winning movie.
Riders have been the Western Music Association's "Entertainers of the Year" seven times, and won "Traditional Group of the Year" and "Traditional Album of the Year" multiple times. The Academy of Western Artists has named them "Western Music Group of the Year" twice in five years, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum has bestowed Riders with their Wrangler Award statuette three times.
B.J. Thomas will take over the stage in the Pavilion Showroom at the Tropicana Express on March 15. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $25 and $35.
Young Billy Joe adopted the nickname, B.J., when there were too many young men with the name of Billy Joe on his Little League baseball team. After being convinced by his older brother Jerry to audition for a local band, The Triumphs, he became the group's lead singer. The group's version of the Hank Williams tune, I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry, caught the ear of young promoter Steve Tyrell, who talked Scepter Records into releasing the song nationally and Thomas became one of Scepter Records most successful solo artists.
Soon after becoming a solo artist, B.J. met his wife Gloria in Houston and they were married on Dec. 9, 1968, in Las Vegas, Nev.
During the four decades Thomas has performed, he has sold more than 70 million records, earned two Platinum records, had 11 Gold records, and won five Grammy Awards. He's had 15 Top 40 pop/rock hits which include Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, and Hooked On A Feeling and 10 Top 40 country chart hits. Thomas became the 60th member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1981, and has been the only artist ever to have the "Song Of The Year" on the pop, country and gospel charts.
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