Yippi-Yi-Yo-KyYay! After listening to Kurt Anderson’s overview of cowboy iconography, I remembered that Sonny Rollins recently gave me his list of favorite Western heroes. As a kid, the mighty saxophonist spent lots of Saturday afternoons in Harlem theaters, and he gets excited when recalling both the good guys and the bad guys. Just don’t ask him to sit through tunes by those strum-along cowpokes. That’s were he draws the line.
“My favorite screen cowboy was Buck Jones (above). He had a white hat, rode a white horse. I like a lot of those guys. I was a big fan of Hop-Along Cassidy, Charles Starrett, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, and Tim McCoy. They were great fun.
“I didn’t care as much for the guys that sang, like Tex Ritter. That was kind of schmaltzy. I was in to the action. In fact, when these guys would go off with the girl at the end, that would kind of spoil it, too – that sort of diluted it for me, too. High Noon was great. I came up with what they called the two-reelers, no sound except the sound of the horse hooves. No music, just the hoofs. Good guys vs bad guys. Pretty straightforward. Those chaps I remember, though. You don’t see too many cowboys with chaps these days.”