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Bob Nolan

Bob Nolan was one of the original Sons of the Pioneers, was their resident yodeler, and contributed some of their most popular songs, including "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."  Aside from Roy Rogers, the group's lead singer, Nolan's voice was the next most recognizable of the group, and he was the most recognizable as an actor in the many films in which the group was featured.  Canadian by birth, he was born in Winniipeg, Manitoba, Canada on 13 April 1908 and moved to Hatfield Point, New Brunswick in 1916.  HIs father had left the family in 1915, and once her two sons were established with relatives in New Brunswick, his mother also left them and they were raised by their granparents on their father's side.  Three years later, in 1919, Bob (his full name was Robert Clarence Nobles) went to live with an aunt in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in the U.S. after that.  In 1921, this often-relocated young boy of 12 went to Arizona to live with his father and he finished high school there, graduating in 1928.  With no apparent plan for his life, he traveled around finding what jobs he could and seeing the country and writing songs now and then along the way.  In 1929 he found himself in Los Angeles and it was there that he changed his name from Nobles to Nolan because his father had done the same thing.  With his pleasant singing voice, he soon found himself working in a tent-show entertainment circuit, his first real appearance as a musician.  Fans of Roy Rogers may recall that in the early 1930s he was a member of a singing group called The Rocky Mountaineers and that they were looking for a singer who could yodel, a requirement in many of their songs.  They advertised in the L.A. newspaper and Bob Nolan saw the ad and responded to it, landing a spot in the group, although he left it before very long for unknown reasons.  But he stayed in contact with Rogers (still known as Leonard Slye at that time) and in 1934 when Rogers and a couple of other Mountaineers broke away to form The Pioneers (later to become the Sons of the Pioneers) Nolan joined them.  Thus, along with Roy Rogers, Tim Spencer and Hugh Farr, Nolan was one of the original quartet that morphed into the Sons of the Pioneers.  With that group, Nolan gained fame on records, on radio, on television, and in the movies.  In addition to his singing with the group and writing many of their songs, Nolan also got a chance to act in semi-featured roles (meaning he had significant dialogue rather than just walk-ons) in many of Rogers' movies.  Rogers left the group in 1938 to go solo and Nolan took over leadership of what had become known as The Sons of the Pioneers, so-renamed because it was thought that they were just too young to have been pioneers themselves.  Nolan continued to record and write songs and act now and then until 1949 when he retired from performing to concentrate on writing songs.  He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971 and he cut his final LP in 1980, "The Sound of a Pioneer."  He was 70 at the time of that recording and he passed away on 16 June 1980 in Newport Beach, California.  Nolan had been the recipient of numerous awards in his career, had written hundreds of songs and appeared in scores of movies. 


VinylTimeMachine Collection

Album Title Album Number Year
The Sound of a Pioneer Elektra 6E-212 1979

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