gleason-earl1Earl has recently won the Yodeling contest at the 2012 WMA National Show in Albuquerque, N.M.

Earl Gleason grew up on a farm along the middle Rio Grande valley of central New Mexico. At an early age Earl knew he wanted to play a guitar and sing. He was a member of the Albuquerque Boys Choir for several years. When he was about 8 years old, he asked his dad for a guitar. This was during WWII, and his father knew it would be hard to find a guitar that he could afford. Mr. Gleason came home one day with a used big box Stella guitar, and there began the story.

Earl grew up using that guitar. He taught himself to play with a little help from a family friend that worked for the railroad, and any other advice he picked up where he could. Earl began to write the words and music that were to become the basis for the songs he writes and sings today.

By the early 1950’s Earl was buying and selling cattle for the family ranch. During the bad drought he was able to buy several at a low price. The following year Earl sold most of those cattle and in 1956
used some of the money to buy a new Martin D28 acoustic guitar. The new guitar cost $760, a lot of money in those days. Today the Martin is worth many times what Earl paid for it, and it partners up with him to produce the wonderful stories in song about a life gone by in the old west. During the early 1950’s Earl also had the opportunity to sing traditional Country Music on KOB radio in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Glen Campbell. Earl laughs when he recalls Glen telling him one time, “Earl, a guitar has 6 strings and you need to play all of them!” In the 1960’s and 1970’s Earl was the lead singer and songwriter for THE COUNTRY WATCHMEN, a gospel group that toured the southwestern States for 12 years.

Earl has been an active member of the Western Music Association and the Association of Western Artists for many years. He especially enjoys singing the old cowboy songs around the fires at the Chuck Wagon camps. Earl has been writing, singing songs and talking to people everywhere to encourage interest in preserving the historic sites and the songs of the cowboy days in the old west. The efforts have been successful in saving the historic stockyards in Magdalena, New Mexico. Because he has written so many songs about the area the people call him “Mr. Magdalena” and he will be featured in the museum being planned there. Earl’s music is already featured in three other New Mexico museums and one in Texas.

In 2006, the song “Springerville” that Earl wrote and recorded on his CD “The Drovers” was in the top ten nominations for Western Music Association National Song of the Year. Another song he recorded on that CD, written by Jerry Campbell and Bob Wagoner was in the top five. Earl also tied for first place as Male Yodeler of the Year at the National Western Music Association Show. He released 2 CD’s in 2008. “Wanderers” has been in the top 15, and “Saturday Nite” in the top 20 of the International DJ playlist for the past year. Both received excellent ratings by the Western Music Association Reviewers. Earl has been inducted into the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

Along with raising cattle and singing, Earl put in over 25 years on the Albuquerque, New Mexico Fire Department. After he retired in 1985, Earl sold the family ranches in southwestern New Mexico and with his wife, Darla moved a few miles south of Albuquerque to the Belen, New Mexico area. They have a 30-acre farm where Earl continues to raise cattle and write some of his songs he records and sings at the shows where he performs. While traveling to shows Earl has had the opportunity to teach history classes at both Junior and Senior High Schools in Texas and New Mexico. He really enjoys singing and talking to the young people about the history, music, and the cowboys importance in the development of the west.

Earl can be reached at or
Orders for the CDs listed below can be sent along with a check or money order to Earl Gleason, c/o Burnt Biscuits, LLC. P.O. Box 1871, Belen NM, 87002 for $16.00 PP plus $4.00 for S&H; or order online here.

His newest release is from 2010 – “Windmill in the Sunset”, and previous released – “Saturday Nite”, “Wanderers”, “The Drovers”, “They All Went That A Way”, recorded at Redcliff Sound Studios in Durango, CO. “Burnt Biscuits”, and “Truck Driving Man”, by Earl and THE COUNTRY WATCHMEN.

Following is a list of the Top 100 cowboy/western albums played by the western music DJ”s who report to the The Western Way magazine in 2011. I have also accessed a few other playlists that are found online. This is not meant to be an exact list because I don’t have access to every program that plays western music, nor do all the DJ’s participate in the reporting. I can say, however, that most of the programs that play a significant amount of western music are included here.

1. The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet, Vol. III – R.J. Vandygriff

2. Austin to Boston – R.W. Hampton

3. A Cowboy’s Song  – Sons of the San Joaquin

4. American – Don Edwards

5. My Horse Knows the Way Home – Horse Crazy

6. Blaze Across the West – The Tumbling Tumbleweeds

7. Windmill in the Sunset – Earl Gleason

8. 3 Trails West – 3 Trails West

9. Dreamin’ Of … When the Grass Was Still Deep – Red Steagall

10. This Side of the Dirt – Richard Elloyan

Earls’ CD is number 7 in the top 10 out of 100.

Here are the top 20 out of 100 individual artists who were heard the
most on cowboy/western radio programs according to reported and
discovered airplay. If you made this list, you were close to being in
the top 12-13% of artists who were played because there were 833
different artists heard on the songs reported or discovered. where there
were ties on this list, I broke the tie by considering how much
material was available from the particular artists. In other words, the
artist with the least amount of material to draw from won the tie:

1. R.W. Hampton

2. Gene Autry

3. Sons of the San Joaquin

4. Don Edwards (#1 last year)

5. Michael Martin Murphey

6. Sons of the Pioneers

7. Red Steagall

8. Roy Rogers

9. Wylie & the Wild West

10. Curly Musgrave

11. R.J. Vandygriff

12. Dave Stamey

13. Prickly Pair

14. Belinda Gail

15. Riders in the Sky

16. Horse Crazy

17. Earl Gleason

18. Les Gilliam

19. The Tumbling Tumbleweeds

20. Ian Tyson