Bob Nolan (Clarence Robert Nobles)
Photos with Bob Nolan
BiographyWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
American singer-songwriter who appeared in a number of low-budget Westerns, but was most renowned as the leader of the singing group, The Sons of the Pioneers. The son of an Army officer, Nolan attended the University of Arizona after his father retired to that state. He studied music and poetry in college, then drifted around the country writing songs. He took a lifeguard job in Los Angeles in 1929, then joined Tim Spencer and Leonard Slye (the future Roy Rogers) in a singing group called "The Rocky Mountaineers". The group evolved into "The Pioneer Trio" and then The Sons of the Pioneers. Read more... When Rogers left the group to become a singing cowboy in Westerns, Nolan became the de facto leader of "The Sons of Pioneers". The group became very popular on radio, due not only to its innovative western harmonizing, but also to the numerous songs Nolan composed for the group. Several of them, including "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and "Cool Water", became not only standards but classics of the style. The Sons of the Pioneers appeared in many B-Westerns, often performing in musical numbers, but just as often playing sidekicks to the stars, particularly Rogers. Nolan left the group in 1949 and concentrated on writing songs. He continued to record with the group, intermittently, through the 1950s. In 1979, he recorded his last album, "The Sound of a Pioneer". It was his first recording in nearly two decades. A friendly but introverted man who liked to keep to himself, Nolan had the looks, the charm, and the voice to compete with Rogers for stardom in musical Westerns, but chose rather to remain on the screen periphery as the amiable friend of the hero, devoting his energies to writing and singing some of the most memorable songs of the era. Nolan died in 1980.