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Richard Thomas Goldhahn, 88; Cowboy Sang 'Sioux City Sue'

November 28, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Richard Thomas Goldhahn, a singing cowboy with the stage name of "Dick Thomas" who wrote "Sioux City Sue," a Western anthem popularized by Bing Crosby and by Gene Autry in a movie of the same title, has died. He was 88.

Goldhahn died Saturday in his sleep at a hospice in Abington, Pa., of heart failure.

A favorite among fans of the singing cowboy genre, "Sioux City Sue" began with the lyrics: "Sioux City Sue, Sioux City Sue. Your hair is red, your eyes are blue, I'd swap my horse and dog for you...." Goldhahn co-wrote the lyrics with Max C. Freedman and composed the music for the catchy tune in 1945.

His own recording of the song sold more than 150,000 copies. When Crosby recorded it in 1946, the song made the Lucky Strike Hit Parade for 14 consecutive weeks. The same year, Autry recorded "Sioux City Sue" as the title song of his Western film, solidifying the tune's place in country and Western music history. Willie Nelson later recorded a version.

Born on a pig farm now within Philadelphia city limits, Goldhahn studied violin and accordion. He began playing guitar, yodeling and singing on the radio and in nightclubs in the 1930s. He first came to Los Angeles in 1941 and adopted cowboy garb to perform at the Hollywood Tropics nightclub for a record 62 weeks.

Goldhahn, who served in the Army toward the end of World War II, composed, recorded and performed his songs at clubs from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, New York and Philadelphia for some 20 years. He also worked on Philadelphia television.

Among his songs were "The Beaut from Butte," "Esmereldy," "Weary Nights and Broken Dreams," "Give Me Back My Heart" and "I've Got a Gal in Laramie."

A widower, Goldhahn is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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