Friday Five: The O.K. Corral

Ken Morton, Jr. | October 26th, 2012

On this day way back in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona, outlaw cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank McLaury were shot and killed by opposing lawmen Virgil Earp and his brothers Morgan and Wyatt Earp, along with temporary deputy Doc Holliday. It would eventually be known as the Gunfight at O.K. Corral.  The real story of who instigated the shootout will probably never be known.  More than a dozen movies have been filmed about the lawless town and famous killing. Here are five songs that pay tribute to the Old West’s most famous story.

5. Johnny Cash – “The Ballad of Boot Hill”

Written by Carl Perkins, this tune was on Cash’s 1965 album, Sings the Ballads of the True West.

4. Johnny Cash – “The Legend of Wyatt Earp”

Johnny Cash sings the opening credits for the 1994 film Wyatt Earp–Return to Tombstone starring Hugh O’Brien.

3. Frankie Laine – “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”

Laine sung the opening song and title track from the 1957 movie of the same name starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.


2. Bobby Barnett – “Wyatt Earp”

Barnett covered this and many other Old West stories; this one can be found on American Heroes & Western Legends.


1. Hank Williams, Jr. – “Doc Holliday”

Pre-beard, Bocephus released this back in 1965 on his Ballads of the Hills and Plains album.

  1. Barry Mazor
    October 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

    For those of us of a certain age, Wyatt Earp will always kind of be Hugh O’Brien, and the song, the theme from that 50s TV show, The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp. As in:

  2. bob
    October 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks Barry. As one of the oldest of the baby boomers, I remember it well.

  3. Barry Mazor
    October 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Well, that show ran from 1955-’62 and than re-ran forever, so you don’t have to be ancient to recall it. Although, yeah, I saw it as a kid its first time around.

  4. Rick
    October 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Tombstone, Arizona is a really cool tourist trap, well as far as tourist traps go anyway, and they used to stage re-enactments of the shoot out. If anyone ever heads that way I highly recommend a side trip to the old copper mining town of Bisbee that has become an artist colony of sorts.

    If Hank “Keep The Change” Jr. recorded that album today, it would likely be titled “Ballads of the Hills and Plains and Water Rights!”. Tombstone has been experiencing a serious water shortage problem for the last couple of years ever since a flash flood damaged their water collection system in a nearby mountain range. Unfortunately the water collection system is on federal land and the Interior Dept. under Obama won’t give Tombstone city employees access to make the needed repairs! I’m guessing Romney might do well in that voting district…

  5. Paul W Dennis
    October 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I remember it from the first go-round too

  6. luckyoldsun
    October 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    “Gunfight at O.K. Corral” was one of a series of killer western movie themes that Frankie Laine sang–from the sublime “3:10 to Yuma” to the ridiculous “Blazing Saddles.” He also had big hits with “Mule Train,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Hey, Good Lookin'” and of course, sang the “Rawhide” TV theme–but for some reason Laine was completely rejected by the country music industry. I think maybe it was because Laine was really an Italian American from Chicago named Lovecchio–but on the other hand, another paesan from Steubenville named Dino Crocetti did find a bit more acceptance in Nashville.

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