Fess Parker – The Ballad of Davy Crockett, is a song with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Thomas W. Blackburn. It was introduced on ABC’s television series Disneyland, in the premiere episode of October 27, 1954. Fess Parker is shown performing the song on a log cabin set in frontiersman clothes, accompanied by similarly attired musicians. The familiar refrain of “Davy, Davy Crockett” is heard throughout the song, which sings of the man’s praises. The song would later be heard throughout the Disneyland television miniseries Davy Crockett, first telecast on December 15, 1954. This version was sung by The Wellingtons. Parker played the role of Davy Crockett in the miniseries and continued in four other episodes made by Walt Disney Studios. Buddy Ebsen co-starred as George “Georgie” Russel, and Jeff York played legendary boatman Mike Fink.
Archie Bleyer, the president of Cadence Records, heard the song on the ABC telecast (December 15, 1954) and called Bill Hayes that night to gauge his interest in recording it. The next day, Hayes (vocals), Al Caiola (guitar), and Art Ryerson (guitar) recorded it in one take at an RCA studio in Manhattan. Other versions by Fess Parker and Tennessee Ernie Ford (recorded on February 7, 1955) quickly followed. All three versions made the Billboard magazine charts in 1955: Hayes’ version made number 1 on the weekly chart (from March 26 through April 23) and number 7 for the year, Parker’s reached number 6 on the weekly charts and number 31 for the year, while Ford’s peaked at number 4 on the weekly country chart and number 5 on the weekly pop chart and charted at number 37 for the year. A fourth version, by bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman, reached number 10 on the radio charts in May 1955. The song also reached number 1 on the Cash Box chart, from March 26 through May 14, 1955. A contemporary version also exists by Western singing group the Sons of the Pioneers. Over ten million copies of the song were sold. Louis Armstrong also recorded the song in 1968.
In the United Kingdom, Hayes’ version reached number 2 in the New Musical Express chart; Ford’s version achieved number 3, and a version by UK singer Max Bygraves reached number 20. Several other British artistes recorded versions in 1955 and 1956, including Billy Cotton, Gary Miller, Ronnie Ronalde, and Dick James. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.