Above - Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage in a lobby card from UNDER COLORADO SKIES (Republic, 1947), one of the Monte Hale adventures in Trucolor. The RPS members shown are, from left to right: Scotty Harrell (Foy Woodrow Harrel), Foy Willing (Foy Willingham), Al Sloey and Johnny Paul (John Paul Girardi).
There were other members of the group, including Burton 'Bud' Sievert, Darol Rice, George Bamby, Al Duncan, Jerry Vaughn and Jimmie Dean (Eddie Dean's brother).
In the post World War II period, the RPS were the singin' helpers to Republic Pictures western heroes Roy Rogers and Monte Hale. They replaced the Sons of the Pioneers and there are two bits of scuttlebutt about why this change occurred: SOP members Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer were tired of the touring, and Spencer had a publishing business to maintain, and they both decided to exit at or around the time that the SOP contract with Republic was ending. The more often quoted story is that the Riders of the Purple Sage were less expensive than the SOP, an attribute much appreciated by the thrifty Republic Pictures.
In addition to records, movies and personal appearances, the Riders were members of Roy Rogers' radio program, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW, and they were also the background tunesters for the THE ANDREWS SISTERS DUDE RANCH program (which premiered in 1944) and the mid 1940s HOLLYWOOD BARN DANCE show. They also were the hosts of ALL-STAR WESTERN THEATER program which was transcribed in Los Angeles/Hollywood (early broadcasts mention KNX, Columbia Square, The 'Voice of Hollywood'; later broadcasts note the Mutual/Don Lee Broadcasting System). It ran from 1946-1948 and consisted of over a 100 half hour broadcasts.
The lifespan of the group was about ten years, from circa 1943 through 1952.
Foy Lopez Willingham was born in Bosque County, Texas on May 14, 1914 and passed away on July 24, 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the grave marker for Foy Willing who is interred at North Belton Cemetery, Belton, Bell County, Texas: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10995827/foy-willing
The official Riders of the Purple Sage website was no longer working when I checked in December, 2017: http://www.ridersofthepurplesage.com/
In 1991, Willing and the Riders were inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame, and western music historian O. J. Sikes authored a profile of the group: http://www.westernmusic.org/foy-willing-and-riders-of-the-purple-sage
The Handbook of Texas Online is a project of the Texas State Historical Association, and they have a biography page on Foy Lopez Willingham: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwivd
The All-Star Western Theater was broadcast from August, 1946 through August, 1948 and starred Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage. This half-hour program was initially broadcast over station KNX, The 'Voice of Hollywood'. Later shows were on the Mutual/Don Lee Broadcasting System. YouTube and the Internet Archive have many of the programs:
(From Old Corral collection)
Above is another lobby card from the Monte Hale Trucolor UNDER COLORADO SKIES (Republic, 1947). That's baddie Steve Darrell centered at the bar and behind him from left to right are Riders of the Purple Sage members Al Sloey, Foy Willing, Scotty Harrell and Johnny Paul.
|Right is Foy Willing (1914 - 1978) and the photo was taken at one of the 1970s film conventions.|
His real name was Foy Lopez Willingham.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
|Film Title||Company||Star||Foy Role/
|9/18/41||PRAIRIE STRANGER||Columbia||Charles Starrett||Foy Willingham
(with Lew Preston's Ranch Hands)
|12/23/43||COWBOY IN THE CLOUDS||Columbia||Charles Starrett||Foy Willingham
(with Wakely's Saddle Pals)
|6/14/44||TWILIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE||Universal||Johnny Downs||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|7/31/44||SWING IN THE SADDLE||Columbia||Jane Frazee||Foy Willingham
(with Wakely's Saddle Pals)
|11/9/44||CYCLONE PRAIRIE RANGERS||Columbia||Charles Starrett||Foy Willingham
(with Wakely's Saddle Pals)
|11/30/44||COWBOY FROM LONESOME RIVER||Columbia||Charles Starrett||Musician Red (as Foy Willingham)|
|2/8/45||SING ME A SONG OF TEXAS||Columbia||Tom Tyler||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|8/11/45||SADDLE SERENADE||Monogram||Jimmy Wakely||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|3/14/46||THROW A SADDLE ON A STAR||Columbia||Ken Curtis||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|12/5/46||OUT CALIFORNIA WAY||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|2/1/47||LAST FRONTIER UPRISING||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|8/30/47||ALONG THE OREGON TRAIL||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|12/15/47||UNDER COLORADO SKIES||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|4/1/48||CALIFORNIA FIREBRAND||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|6/15/48||TIMBER TRAIL, THE||Republic||Monte Hale||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|11/3/48||GRAND CANYON TRAIL||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|12/29/48||FAR FRONTIER, THE||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|4/29/49||SUSANNA PASS||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|9/9/49||DOWN DAKOTA WAY||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|11/15/49||GOLDEN STALLION, THE||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|1/8/50||BELLS OF CORONADO||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|3/22/50||TWILIGHT IN THE SIERRAS||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|6/30/50||TRIGGER, JR.||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|9/25/50||SUNSET IN THE WEST||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|11/15/50||NORTH OF THE GREAT DIVIDE||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|12/15/50||TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|2/5/51||SPOILERS OF THE PLAINS||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|3/30/51||HEART OF THE ROCKIES||Republic||Roy Rogers||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|8/25/51||DISC JOCKEY||Allied Artists||Ginny Simms||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|10/18/51||TEXAS CARNIVAL||M-G-M||Esther Williams||Riders of the Purple Sage|
|In 2006, Sharon Lee Willing authored No One to Cry To: A Long, Hard Ride into the Sunset with Foy Willing of The Riders of the Purple Sage. Sharon is Foy's widow, and the book chronicles his rise to national popularity on radio, million-selling records, and work in B westerns with Charles Starrett, Monte Hale and Roy Rogers. It also includes his sad career decline and battle with alcohol and drugs. Published November, 2006, the 6 X 9 paperback has about 260 pages and includes a complete filmography, discography, and lots of photos.|
Amazon has the book: http://www.amazon.com/No-One-Cry-Sunset-Willing/dp/158736686X