Lorne Greene's 'Ringo,' A Bonanza Star's Hokey Cowboy #1 Hit

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Lorne Greene (1915-1987), Canadian actor and cowboy pop star, circa 1970. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Lorne Green's "Ringo," a cowboy song and spoken-word tale, is one of the weirdest tunes ever to catch fire and reach the top of the Billboard pop chart -- but in 1964, with Beatlemania in full swing, the Bonanza star's wild-west ballad did just that. Written by country/pop songwriters Don Robertson and Hal Blair, "Ringo" tells a tale of gunfighting and death in the old west -- you can't dance to it like "I Saw Her Standing There," and you'd never catch Greene, a paternal 49-year-old Canadian TV actor, shaking his mop-top on Ed Sullivan. But a good novelty song has a power we may never fully understand.