Johnny Western: American Song Writer, Singer, Actor & DJ

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 under ARCHIVES | No Comment

The other day I was wandering around  YouTube searching for videos on old TV shows and their theme songs.  Although I was not around when Have Gun Will Travel was in prime time airing, I did get to see reruns some years later and have always loved the theme song.

I was overjoyed when I finally ran into a video with this song!  I was also blown away listening to the performer’s beautiful voice!  His name is Johnny Western….

He wrote and sang the theme to Have Gun Will Travel –”The Ballad of Paladin“.  So off I went to find out more information about this man.

Johnny Western was born October 28, 1934 in Two Harbors, Minnesota and mostly raised in Northfield, Minnesota.  His father was an instructor and officer in several Civilian Conservation Corps camps.  Johnny spent many of his earlier years in these camps, he also lived on Indian Reservations on the Canadian/US Border.

When he was 5 yrs old, his parents brought him to a western movie “Guns and Guitars” starring Gene Autry.  Upon seeing the movie, he decided he wanted to be a singing cowboy.  He received his first guitar at age 12 and by age 13 was performing professionally.

His career began, singing and playing rhythm guitar with a collegiate singing trio.  He got a job on radio at 13 as well as his name in Billboard magazine as the youngest disc jockey and singer on American Radio.

By 16 he was a singer with the Sons of the PioneersKen Curtis, singer and actor also was a member of Sons of the Pioneers. He performed with Gene Autry and 30 yrs later with Johnny Cash.

Along with writing and performing the theme song The Ballad of Paladin, he also co-wrote songs for the shows Bonanza and The Rebel.

Many Thanks to Mac -  Firsthighlander1 for allowing me to place his video on my blog.  So just scroll down and have a wonderful experience walking back in time when westerns ruled the golden age of television.  Whether you were there at the time, or this is a new experience.

Take a moment and listen to his performing “The Ballad of Paladin” .  You will know why I needed to find out more about this incredible singer!


1 – Anyone of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in attendance
to Charlemagne.
2 – Any knightly or heroic champion
3 – Any determined advocate or defender of a noble cause

Awards and Honors
TV Theme Hall of Fame (1993)
Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame (2000)
Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame (2000)
Western Music Association Hall of Fame (2001)
Wichita Professional Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2002)
Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2004)
Kansas Western Swing Hall of Fame (2004)

The Ballad Of Paladin

Have Gun Will Travel reads the card of a man.
A knight without armor in a savage land.

His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind.
A soldier of fortune is the man called Paladin.

Paladin, Paladin
Where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin,
Far, far from home.

He travels on to where ever he must
a chess knight of silver is his badge of trust
There are campfire legends that the plainsmen spin
of the man with the gun
of the man called paladin

Paladin, Paladin
Where do you roam?

Paladin, Paladin,
Far, far from home.
Far, far from home.
Far, far from home.
 - Written by Johnny Western

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