n what is a rare mix of personal memoir, music history and biography, Sharon Lee Willing has written an illuminating tribute to her late husband, Foy Willing, a gifted talent in the country and western music genre and founder of Riders of the Purple Sage, who died in 1978. Lest his memory be forgotten, she has managed to summarize his life and accomplishments in a compelling read.
Contributions in research and content were also made by Larry Hopper, musicologist, and Kevin Coffey, writer/researcher. In addition to Foy's life, the author has chronicled their life together, a love story summarized in the title itself.
Willing's career left a song list and legacy that has inspired other musicians in his wake. Songs either written or co-written by Foy include classics like "Happy Trails," "I Cried Myself To Sleep Over You," "Rootin' Tootin' Cowboy" and "Rose of Santa Fe."
These were recorded over the years by labels like Decca, Capitol, Crown, White Hat and more, establishing Foy and his Riders of the Purple Sage as notable musicians and reportedly, the hoped-for successors to the Sons of the Pioneers. Foy himself believed that "No One to Cry To" was recorded by no less than 15 artists, including Michael Parks, Patti Page, Ray Charles, Jim Reeves and Eydie Gorme.
From 1941-to 1951, Foy and The Riders appeared in 33 films starring the likes of Roy Rogers and Monte Hale, establishing Foy as a major voice in the films of the singing cowboys.
For the complete back story to Foy's life (with numerous excerpts from his personal letters), his struggle with alcoholism, and his abiding love for Sharon, this biography reads like a movie itself.