about freckles brown
This page is dedicated to Freckles Brown,
a man who influenced Lane's life so much.
Freckles and Clyde rodeoed together and were best friends.
Freckles mentored Lane
Lane has this to say about Freckles
"He was already retired when I started riding bulls,
but I watched a lot of film on his rides and he gave me pointers.
He wasn't the most talented bullrider
but he had a lot of try in him.
He never thought he was going to get bucked off
until his head hit the ground.
He was that way when he had cancer and I visited him in Houston.
He was working out with the exercise bar at his bed.
He always thought he was going to get better.
He was my idol, teacher and friend"
Freckles was born Warren Granger Brown in Wheatland, Wyoming
on January 18, 1921, the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters.
He got the nickname "Freckles" from a dairyman he went to work for
in Tucson Arizona when he was 14.
In 1937 Freckles, at the age of 16, entered his first rodeo in Willcox, Arizona.
His rodeo career would span 37 years, from age 16 at that first rodeo in 1937,
to age 53 riding in Tulsa at his last rodeo in 1974.
But it wasn't until 1941, after riding his horse 50 miles from the ranch
where he worked to the rodeo in Cody, Wyoming,
that he won his first bull riding trophy. After his win,
he rode the horse the 50 miles back home.
Through his rodeo career he competed in bull riding, saddle bronc riding,
bareback riding, team roping, bull dogging and the wild horse race.
Freckles' wife Edith was by his side through it all, when he was stationed
at Fort Sill in W.W.II, and when he rode in rodeos in Europe,
and when he returned to Oklahoma to raise cattle and hay.
Freckles and W.W.II
During W.W.II Freckles was stationed in China serving with the
"Office of Strategic Services", now known as the CIA.
He helped hold the "first rodeo ever held in China" using army mules.
He also took first in saddle mule riding and bareback mule riding!
Winning the World Championship
In 1962 Freckles won the title "World Champion Bull Rider"
at the National Finals Rodeo while sitting on the sidelines.
You see, in October of 1962 he was badly injured at a rodeo in Portland Oregon.
After riding a bull named "Black Smoke" for the 8 seconds, on his dismount
the bull caught Freckles with his head and flipped him,
causing Freckles to land on the back of his head.
He was paralyzed when they got him to the First Aid room.
A doctor there pulled on his head and feeling returned to his right side and left foot.
(These were the days before the "Justin Healers"!)
After an operation in a Portland hospital he was in traction for 34 days.
It was pure misery for Freckles. After traction it was a cast from
his waist to the top of his brow for over 2 months.
However, Freckles had won enough money before his accident to have
his earnings be enough to win the Championship.
His earnings in 1962, to win that championship, were $18,675.
The next time Freckles rode again was in July of 1963,
riding one of the two bulls he drew in the rodeo.
He rode his last bull in Tulsa, at the age of 53.
Freckles and Tornado
In 1967, at the National Finals in Oklahoma City,
Freckles wasn't in the running for the Championship,
but perhaps he is remembered better
than the bull rider
that did win the Championship that year,
because that year Freckles rode
the "unridable" bull called Tornado.
Tornado, owned by Jim Shoulders,
was the first bull Freckles drew on the
opening night of the Finals, Dec 1, 1967.
A full house of 9000 spectators
were in the Oklahoma City's
State Fair Arena,
to see the match-up between
47-year-old Freckles and Tornado.
Tornado, in his rodeo career,
had scared his share of bull riders off,
some preferring to turn him out
rather than try to ride him.
"I was real tickled when I drew him.
I was wantin' him.
I'd watched that bull for years.
Everytime anybody jumped out of there,
any time anybody drew Tornado,
I was up there watching,
looking over the chute.
When a bull bucks that good,
everything has to go right,
you gotta get tapped off right."
Tornado went high and far on his first jump out,
something he was known to do.
He spun three or four times.
He changed his pattern on Freckles,
jumping straight ahead and then back to the right.
but nothing he did could throw the
Freckles never heard the whistle.
The crowd went wild
and the bullfighters moved in,
that's how he knew he had him rode!
Freckles described it as:
"I just felt real good.
I got where I wanted to be,
and that's the first time I got just exactly
where I wanted to be.
Sometimes you don't feel that way.
But sometimes you feel like you can ride them
no matter what they do, but not very often.
It was just before the whistle when
I felt like I had him rode."
The first person to congratulate
Freckles was Jim Shoulders,
the owner of Tornado.
Tornado had gone unridden for 220 professional rides.
He died in 1972 and is buried near the
Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Freckles Toughest Battle
A tribute to Freckles became a tradition
each year at the Finals.
Red Stegal would sing his "Ballad of Freckles Brown"
Clem McSpadden would introduce Freckles
to the crowd, and give a little background
on his memorable ride on Tornado.
(Clem would also later give the eulogy
at both Freckles' and Lane's funerals.)
At the December 1982 Finals however,
Clem announced that Freckles had prostate cancer.
When the cancer was found in November,
Freckles was advised to go to Houston
for 6 weeks of radiation treatment.
However, Freckles wanted to go to
the Finals in December before starting treatments.
Friends threw a fund raiser-dance
at the end of the Finals for Freckles,
to help with medical expenses.
Red Stegal, Reba McEntire and
Moe Bandy performed.
Freckles optimism shown through.
"I don't think it's going to be no sweat. It's going to take some time and a lot of money. But they think they will get it and I do to."
In March 1983 Freckles was back home and giving interviews.
"They checked me out three weeks ago and said I was normal. They say it could come back but it looks good right now.
And his positive attitude shown through again with this quote,
"It is the same way you ride the bulls. You just got to believe you are going to win."
But early in 1987, the cancer returned after Freckles took a fall from his tractor. He had been in remission for four years.
By March of 1987, Freckles, now age 66,
was back in the hospital in Houston.
Clem McSpadden put together a fund-raiser auction
to help pay for Freckles' medical expenses.
It was to be held March 22, 1987.
"I never knew what the term
'beautiful human being' was until I met Freckles.
I have sat around in hotel rooms with Freckles and Edith.
I have stood around in rodeo arenas and marveled
at the courage that made Freckles one of history's
great bull riders.
Mostly, I just marveled at how any person
can be that thorough a gentleman.
Always speaking in a low, calm voice.
Always wondering what he might do to help someone else.
Always finding time for someone else."
Sadly, Freckles died on Friday, March 20, 1987,
at his ranch in Oklahoma.
The fund raiser still took place that Sunday
at the Holidome in McAlester, Oklahoma.
It raised approximately $41,000.00
to help pay Freckles medical expenses.
It was mentioned time and time again about
Freckles' smiling generosity and
the happiness he gave to others around him.
Freckles' funeral was held Tuesday, March 24, 1987,
at the Agri-Plex Center in Hugo, Oklahoma.
About 1000 people gathered at the memorial service,
among them former bull riding champion and
owner of Tornado Jim Shoulders and
rodeo announcer Clem McSpadden,
and of course the Frost Family.
"I met Freckles in 1946 at a rodeo.
We just hit it off and have been friends ever since.
He was popular because he was so nice,
and all he knew was hard work.
He was a people's hero because
he was so genuine."
"One thing about Freckles being in Heaven,
it won't be so hard
when it's our time to go with
Freckles there to meet us."
Below is the poem called
which Lane read at Freckles funeral.
Though Freckles is an angel now, he ain't forgot his friends.
He drops to earth and hangs around behind the buckin' pens.
He pulls a rope or just makes sure a rider gets bucked free.
So I took it as an honor, the day he spoke to me...
"I saw you ride your bull today. You sure did yourself proud.
You had him by the short hairs, I could feel it in the crowd!"
"I really should be thankful that I even stayed aboard.
You could'a done it better, Freckles...I'm lucky that I scored!"
"Hey don't be puttin' yourself down! You know you did okay.
The time will come when you look back and hunger for today
When everything was workin' right and judges liked your style,
Your joints were smooth, your belly flat and girls liked your smile.
"Cause in between the best you rode and the last one that you'll try
You'll face your own mortality and look it in the eye.
There ain't no shame admittin' you ain't what you used to be,
The shame is blamin' Lady Luck when Father Time's the key!
So if they know you came to ride and always did your best
Then hang your ol' spurs up with pride, 'cause that's the acid test
And, say some gunsel offers you a 'Geritol on Ice,'
Just grin 'im down, 'cause you don't have to ride Tornado twice!"
A private burial followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Lane Frost and Freckles
"Freckles was more like a grandfather to
Lane than anything else",
says Lane's father Clyde.
"We would stay up all night watching films of
Freckles riding bulls.
Lane studied pictures of Freckles
bull riding from about the time
he learned to talk.
Freckles would come to watch Lane
ride at the local arenas, giving him pointers,
and also traveled to see Lane compete in the
High School Finals."
"We would have rather Lane
not chose to ride bulls,"
Lane's Mom adds,
"but since he did we were glad
he chose Freckles as a role model.
Lane admired Freckles from the time
he was little.
And Freckles was probably as close
to our family as anyone."
Before Freckles died on March 20, 1987,
when he took a turn for the worse in the Houston hospital,
Lane flew down to Houston from Fort Worth,
and stayed with Freckles overnight.
Lane made Freckles a promise that he would win the
World Championship for him that year.
In Dec. 1987 Lane Frost kept that promise.
"Lane and Freckles probably had more effect
and through their legacy are still having more effect
on this sport than anyone could ever imagine.
Lane Frost and Freckles Brown made bull riding a sport
people wanted to see, sponsors wanted to be a part of,
and television wanted to show
whether it was on the news or otherwise.
There have always been great bull riders
but when you look at those two,
they weren't just bull riders,
they were stars."
I met Freckles, I didn't know him personally,
but I felt like I did through Lane.
Lane was always saying 'Freckles did this or
Freckles did that.'
So I really respected him."
"I never met Freckles, but that winter
I stayed with the Frosts and got to meet Edith Brown.
We worked Freckles' cattle and I came to understand
Freckles through his land, his cattle and the
obvious influence he had on Lane.
I got to know about Freckles when he wasn't riding.
And I was able to understand why Lane
looked up to him not only as a bull rider,
but also for the kind of person he was
and the kind of life he led back home.
Lane meant a lot to me then and he still does today."
Quotes on Freckles.
"Freckles Brown never made one enemy
while making 1001 friends."
"He was a legend in his own time."
The press referred to Freckles as:
"The Unsinkable Freckles Brown".
"I used to run and train and do exercises.
A few of the others did, but not a lot of them.
Them that did kinda hated it. They were ashamed of it.
Now it's the thing to do."
"Never a bronc that couldn't be rode,
never a cowboy that couldn't be throwed."
"I got on my first bull at Wilcox, Arizona, in 1937
when I was 16.
I rode my last one in Tulsa in 1974 when I was 53.
"A lot of rodeos buck six or seven horses and
seven or eight bulls and have a movie star
out there for 45 minutes singing.
They pay the movie star $6000.00,
and the whole prize money in the rodeo is $3000.00
That's what doesn't make sense."
1962-"World's Best Cowboy"
1972-"Wrangler Award" from the
"Western Heritage Awards" at
Oklahoma City's Cowboy Hall of Fame.
1983-Trophy in Denver for his
"life-long contribution to the sport of rodeo."