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Q&A 2012



January 2, 2012

The West is a wonderful place. Happy New Year to All. Enjoy the link. Gene Finke.


January 16, 2012

Was Betty White on the Lucky U program in May 1953? My sister and I went to the show and they picked my sister to come on stage. We have a photo of her and Ken Curtis and Shug Fisher. We were told that the blonde lady in the photo was Betty White. We were able to listen to the show on the radio the next day. We had a lot of fun laughing at my sister's deep southern accent when she told them her name was Linda and she was from Mississippi.

Bobbie Jean Stiles bobbie4florida@yahoo.com


Do you mean Betty Taylor? We’d love to see your picture, Bobbie Jean, and we could add it to our Ken Curtis page. Anyway, we’re very happy to hear from you and we hope you find our website enjoyable. Thanks for taking the time to write.


January 17, 2012

I am attaching the photo to this message. I (Bobbie Bentley Stiles) am standing in front of Ken Curtis; Linda Bentley Tripp in front of Betty and a friend Nancy in front of Shug Fisher. My family had taken vacation to visit family and friends in California in the month of May, 1953. It was quite an experience driving from Mississippi to California with no ac. My sister and I were 8 and 10 so I am sure my parents were ready to pull out their hair. LOL



January 20, 2012

My mother used to sing this song to us when we were children. She said she heard the song on the radio in the Hollis, Oklahoma area when she was a little girl. (Born 1934) I had never heard the whole song...just the parts she could remember. I will have to share this with her! :-)


January 20, 2012

Please visit my store at www.kactuspmp.com to see the interviews [made by Ken Griffis] as I am able to place them on the site. Thank you for your interest. My phone number is 765-348-3343 should you wish to talk with me about anything in the store.
Jim Kleist


January 21, 2012

I grew up with the original Sons of the Pioneers. My father took us to all of the movies. We lived in Arizona and California. Bob Nolan was the greatest.

Gloria g-cuevas@sbcglobal.net


February 14, 2012

Hello Mr. Coburn,
For the past several months I have fallen in love (and dragged my family along with me) with Bob Nolan's work--his voice, his songs, his acting. To be honest, I like him as much if not a tad more so than Roy Rogers. :D My peers (High School juniors) can have their modern movies, music and entertainment---give me the Sons of the Pioneers, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and the rest of those 'dead guys'.

That being said. I'm busy pillaging the Film Songs page of the Bob/SOP site and learning all the songs I can. While doing so, I found out that the link to 'Michael O'Leary O'Brien O'Toole' From the 1946 movie "Song of Arizona" is faulty and leads to a "404 not found" message. I don't know if this can be fixed or not.

I hope your ongoing search for more of Mr. Nolan's songs is successful. If I ever happen across anything up here in Seattle (not likely!), I shall pass it on.

Thank you for putting up the treasure chest of a site. It is very much appreciated!



February 26, 2010

slide shows didn't work - computer script only



March 8, 2010

Thank you for letting us know, Mark. It seems that the newer computers with 64-bit Windows were unable to open the slideshows so we bought new software and we're in the process of rebuilding the page. It's almost done now, if you'd like to take a look.


March 9, 2012

Just finished viewing the ROMANCE ON THE RANGE and the slide show. Slide show is marvelous. What a genius you are. I thank you for all the picture credits. The movie is a favorite of mine. Always enjoy it. Have a good copy of it. The site is first class. Always good. buddy bryant


March 28, 2012


My sons and I sing cowboy songs at our local museum, Rockwell Museum of Western Art, in Corning, NY. Of course, our favorites are by the Sons of the Pioneers, the best written by Bob Nolan. We never charge for our work. If paid, we donate the proceeds to Catholic Charities. But I digress... My older son goes to great lengths to pick the harmonies off the soundtracks. It takes him quite some time to get it perfect. I was wondering if there is sheet music with the parts written out that I could purchase to save him the time? He has a large family and time is short for him.


We are called The Tumbleweeds and you can find some of our singing on youtube where we share with friends. If you'd like to hear a song, put in The Tumbleweeds and Rockwell. We've learned to yodel, but nothing like Roy and Bob, and have worked up a pretty good train whistle. It has been fun over the past few years to get into the music more and learn more about the history of the SOTP and the prolific songwriting of your grandfather... what intricate, beautiful internal rhymes he penned during his life. There are also some songs we learn like "Rodeo Road" and "Sierra Nevada" that I cannot find any record of writer... but they are fun to sing. The more complex the harmony, the more we enjoy learning. Hope I haven't bored you but if you can help us with music and how to obtain it, I would appreciate it.


Bryan Lanahan, Sr.


It's always so good to hear from folks who still play the old Sons of the Pioneers songs. Calin has made available many of Bob Nolan's songs scanned from his original folios. I'll give you the link and you can check them out. You may also be interested in just the lyrics with the chords marked in, also on our site.


April 7, 2012

I have some transcription discs which I think may be early of the Sons. They were produced by Standard Radio Advertising Co. You can see a picture of one label at the link below. I'm curious if you have ever seen any like this from Standard Radio.
Thanks for your time and consideration,


Yes, we have seen the transcription discs although we don’t personally own any. We have all the music on CD now. They were recorded from 1934-5. To read more about them, check out this page on our website and select the last of the quick links at the top of the page: BOB NOLAN: EARLY LIFE AND CAREER (1935-1940)

May 17, 2012

        An old friend and customer of mine recently took over a family owned softwater company and asked me to help him promote it. They serve a 9-county area in west-central Ohio/Indiana. The owner and I are of a similar age and both remember Cool Water. He got a recording of the song with his first record player as a gift in the early 50s. I started on a search for the song, hoping to use portions of it in radio ads.

        Regarding the attached photo... My mom sewed many western shirts for me when I was a kid and I couldn't believe the photos of your Grandfather when I saw them. On the back of the attached picture, is written, "Didn't have any with hat."


        Anyway, to business. Can you help me find someone who can help in licensing Bob Nolan's Cool Water recording for a radio commercial? I am more of a graphics person and music rights issues are new to me. I appreciate your help.

Regards, John Finley




Please contact Mr. Sam Fein c/o Songwriters Guild of America

Att: Bob Nolan Catalog,

209 10th Ave South, Suite 321,

Nashville, TN 37203.

Phone: (615) 742-9945

FAX: (615) 742-9948,

Email: sfein@songwritersguild.com


May 28, 2012

You may think me crazy but looking at early photos of Mr. Nolan..he could have easily found work in Hollywood..cast as a Frenchman or even Spanish Basque. Just place a Beret on his head..and Voila, Monsieur Nolan!

Herbert Rogers

May 28, 2012

I am a MAJOR Bob Nolan fan, so much so that I hope to name my first son for him! Have yall ever considered making all the movies he played in, in a set? I have as many as I can find but some I'm having trouble with, especially his earliest films. Any feedback you can give me would thrill me! 
Thank you!
Robyn Craft

We would love to see a boxed set of Bob's films for sale somewhere, too. The next best thing is to contact Jimmie Willhelm in Texas. He has most of the films for sale on DVD. For more information, see Jimmie's page on our site: http://www.bobnolan-sop.net/Reflections/Reflections%20htms/Willhelm.htm


June 1, 2012

Hi! I just wanted you to know I absolutely adore your grandfather! Bob Nolan was a gift on loan from Heaven and though he died before I was born, if there was a time machine, I'd meet him first and foremost! As a writer myself, I often think of him as I write...I'm pretty sure a poem or song about him is going to pop out on my paper one day!

Thank you for continuing to make his mastery available and for sharing this amazing mans legend and memory with us all!
Bobs #1 Fan,
Robyn "Cowgirl" Craft

June 14, 2012

Jimmie Rodgers has an excellent version of Tumbling Tumbleweeds on his Twilight on the Trail album.


July 3, 2012

My cup runneth over as I contemplate all of the service, efforts, appreciation and assistance in my efforts to keep this music alive and growing a new audience. I have been humbled by your comments and timely responses to my request. I only wish that I could make this material available at no cost to your faithful followers. Thank you both for a spectacular web site where all are free to contribute. May a Loving God add His blessings on your efforts,
Kactus Jim Kleist www.kactuspmp.com

July 16, 2012

As a kid growing up in Las Cruces NM during the 1940s, I would go to the movies and then come home and play cowboy. I did not play Roy, Gene or Hoppy much, on occasion I would be Wild Bill Elliot or Johnny Mack Brown but mostly I was Bob Nolan! I loved his voice and acting (though at the time, I did not know it was acting) He was a cowboy, just a little bit biggern me, that's all. Thanks for all the memories.

Don Hart thedon1940@hotmail.com


July 30, 2012

Since you appreciate Western music and its history, I'm going to attach a picture of our old band, which we called "The Dudes." Most of the guys have passed on now, or I've lost touch with them. I'll be 79 on Wednesday, and I still remember them and the music fondly. We sang "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Biscuit Blues," "He's a no-good Son-of-a-Gun" and many other Bob Nolan songs. We sang mostly at school events, although we were on TV once with Del Moore. I was surprised to find that one of our favorites, "Ridin' Down the Canyon," wasn't written by Bob Nolan. It was supposedly written by Gene Autry and Smiley Burnett, although I remember your website said that Gene Autry demanded co-writing credit for the songs he sang.


Our steel guitar player and I went all through school together, from Elementary school through USC. He passed away in 2011 from leukemia. He owned an original 78 RPM record of Leonard Sly, and I would be surprised if your grandfather were not on it too!

Thanks again and God Bless you,
Buddy Ballew


August 6, 2012

hey...watched this the other night. a movie based on the original Phantom Empire serial series...

very ahead of its time, of course great singing from the cowboys, but some interesting sound effects and psychedelic scenes to portray the inner earth civilization...

if you got the time, watch it in its entirety.


Here's another one i watched on the Public Domain site: http://archive.org/details/SongOfArizona

Actually I first discovered the song and movie from watching the video on your website, so thanks! However, the version for viewing on the archive.org website has cut
out some scenes, and does not include the wonderful performance of the theme song with Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers.
EDITED VERSION: 54 minutes

Mike Eckstein


Thanks, Mike. The edited versions were cut for TV in the 50s and, alas, cut songs instead of action.


August 11, 2012

Hi there,
        My daddy, a country doctor in Llano, Texas, was a big fan of Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, and his favorite song was "Cool Water". I love the song, also.
        I belong to the Central Texas Storyteller's Guild, and I'd like to write and tell a story about the song. There is debate among friends about who Dan is in the song. Daddy told me that Dan was the man's horse, and I've always believed it. Do you know if that was what Mr. Nolan meant?
        Also, I'm amazed at the continuing popularity of the song. Yesterday, on KUT, Austin's public radio, John Aieli played several versions of the song by Sons of the Pioneers, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Marty Robbins. (It's hotter than the dickens here in Austin about now) He, too was fascinated with the song, and talked about it on and off for his 3 hour stint on the show.
        I've also been fascinated with the possible deeper implications of the song. In dreams, water represents emotions, and the song could actually mean at some level that the guy is grappling with his emotions. Has that possibility ever struck you or your readers?
        Thanks for any feedback you can give me. Bob Nolan was a special man.
Robin Shepperd


There has always been debate about what “Dan” was in “Cool Water” – a horse or a burro - depending on whether the composer was a cowboy or a prospector. Because of the line “Dan’s feet are sore”, I’ve always had the impression that Dan was a horse but Dick Foran in a July 17, 1943, 10-2-4 Ranch radio program, described “Dan” as being a prospector’s burro. Dick likely had that information straight from Bob who was in that same program.

Bob’s brother, Earl Nolan, said that “Cool Water” was first written as a poem when Bob was attending Tucson High. Later, after forming the Sons of the Pioneers with Tim Spencer and Len Slye (Roy Rogers), Bob added music.

In an interview by Betty Cox Larimer and Lee Rector on April 28, 1976, for the Music City News, Bob said, “I was strictly trying to paint a picture of the desert and I missed miserably because I picked up the wrong thing to write about - a mirage. You can’t use the word mirage in a song. It just don’t sing and you can’t rhyme it. So I just left it out and I wrote in allegory and everything was nebulous but, after I was through, you couldn’t help but know that I was talking about a mirage.”

Your thoughts on the deeper implications of the song are interesting. “Cool Water” seems to mean something a little different to everyone, according to his previous experience. Bob was recognized by his friends and co-workers as a philosopher by nature who thought deeply about life. Kenneth J. Bindas expanded on your “Cool Water” thoughts in his treatise, “Western Mystic: Bob Nolan and his Songs”, in The Western Historical Quartely (Oct. 1986). If you wish, I can scan the pertinent pages for you.



August 16, 2012

I was surprised to find Bob Nolan / Sound of a Pioneer (CD) available at Amazon for . . . $999.99!

Ray Kraft rskraft1@gmail.com


August 17, 2012

Thought you might be interested in this. There's a clip on YouTube with trailers for several Charles Starrett westerns, and I noticed that in the trailer for "Riders of Black River," you can hear "Where the Rio Rolls Along" being sung in the background. So it appears it must have originally been in the film after all. Elisabeth


August 19, 2012
I have enjoyed learning about Karl Farr and Hugh and the Sons.... Karl Farr Jr. has done such a great job....tons of work...on his dad's bio. I was so lucky to meet him at his home because we have some mutual friends who are his neighbors. I wish I could have grown up in that time of such wonderful values. Karl Farr Jr. gave me a CD he burned and I listen to it daily on my way to work. I love all the songs and love hearing the Sons of the San Joaquin keep them alive in concert from time to time, too. What a blessing the Farr family, and all of you have been to my life.

Kerri Cheney kcheney@pps.net


September 5, 2012

 just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed looking through your website. Every time I look at it I wonder if I have even scratched the surface of all the items lurking there. I grew up loving the music of the Sons. I still take them with me everywhere I go.

I did have one question.....I notice a couple places in the website where it is mentioned that Bob Nolan had a place in the desert he would drive out to to be alone. The place where he filled his tub with water to soak in. I was wondering if you know where that was? I travel and explore in the Mojave Desert sometimes and it would be nice to visit the spot, if I have not inadvertently already, knowing what it meant to him.

Thanks so much for sharing all the material. Some of it makes me smile, some laugh, and some cry, but I feel enriched by it all.

Chris Wray cptwray@yahoo.com

September 11, 2012

Long-time member of the Sons of the Pioneers and our good friend, Gary LeMaster passed away Sunday, Sept 9th after a long battle with cancer. (O J Sikes)


September 17, 2012

I run a Southern Gospel Station in Walnut Mississippi. Mr. Bob Nolan wrote the Title Song of The Statesmen Quartet album on RCA "The Mystery of His Way" that was a Long Play Album in 1963 with an Artist's rendition of Sunlight shining through Redwood Trees onto a Man on the forest floor with The Blue Shadows of the trail on the Redwood Trees. I Think at That Point Tim Spencer was a California RCA Distributor he may Have wrote the Liner Notes. Mr Jake Hess, Lead Singer for The Statesmen was the featured Vocalist on "Mystery" and 3 decades later was Featured on the Bill Gaither Homecoming Videos. I don’t Believe I Have ever heard another Quartet do the song. I am Unsure if The Song "Blue Shadows on The Trail" was a Bob Nolan song, but if it is I Think It is Just as Gospel to Me as any other Quartet song I Play. I am a Hillbilly Songwriter and I got an Idea for a Song Called "Trail's End" that I Had Bob in The Back of My Head writing It. I Cant write a Cowboy Song as Good as Bob Nolan I don’t Believe anyone can, or Ever Will. He's too good for Comprehension. I Keep My Lyrics in a Paper Sack I wonder If Bob Nolan had a Paper Sack Full Of Lyrics
Robin Clayton WLRC Gospel Radio Walnut Mississippi


• Bob Nolan kept his lyrics in his garage and in his home. Unfortunately, he lost hundreds of unpublished lyrics in a garage fire in the late 1940s.

• "Blue Shadows on the Trail" was written by Johnny Lange and Eliot Daniel and was published in 1947.

• "The Mystery of His Way" was recorded by the Sons of the Pioneers more than once but the best known was on the album "Sons of the Pioneers Sing Hymns of the Cowboy" released in 1963.


September 18, 2012

Just wanted to pass on some feelings about Bob's "Cool Water" ... from the perspective of a 75-year old gypsy.

I know the feelings Bob must have had when he came across the awesomeness of the deserts of our west. I experienced that when a mere child, leaving the East Cost and going to a strange new land called California, where I was stranded when my father went off into the Pacific war in 1943. I am sure my loneliness was a big factor in "Cool Water" making an immediate and lasting impression on that small child, but I also could feel other things in the lyrics that the average listener might have missed:

"Dan" of course was the faithful mule that accompanied this prospector into the desert. No, not a man, for the quest for gold in those times was so intense that sharing it with another human was simply too risky for many reasons;

The smart prospector or traveler in the desert knew that the loss of water was sure death sentence. This prospector was venturing into completely unknown territory and his life depended on knowing for sure where to get that precious water. An absolutely rigid practice would have been to travel from his last watering hole for HALF the distance that his water supply would support and then, if no new water source was found, he would have to re-trace his route back to the LAST water source. To not do that meant death. I interpret that, for reasons unknown in the lyrics, this prospector had through his own fault out-run his water supply and was at the mercy of The Almighty if he was to find cool, clear water again;

And his mental strength lies in convincing "Dan" that they had a chance for success if they but believed they could do it ... his communications with "Dan" are really a way to talk to himself.

As you surely have guessed by now, "Cool Water" has been and still is a big part of my life. Thanks Bob.



October 5, 2012

        I was pleased to find your Bob Nolan web page and even more excited to find it was so complete. Even though I am only 64 years old, The Sons Of The Pioneers music took me though my childhood as my parents and relatives often played their music on the old style phonograph. Now that I am retired and have time to devote to me pleasures, I find I am immersed in the B-Westerns and the personalities that were featured in them. Roy Rogers and Bob Nolan are possibly my two favorites. Bob Nolan for his supreme talent of writing and performing true authentic and original western music and Roy Rogers for his message to us kids of the 50’s on how to live a quality life.

        I live out on 22 acres in Creston, CA (93432) and spend time in the desert southwest in the winters. The open range, it’s animals, sparse vegetation, forever skyline, sunrises and sunsets along with moon and the stars, and the sounds and smells this landscape creates all seem to be in a Bob Nolan song. If there ever was a person who could write and sing and bring the listener closer to the God of his choice, it certainly was Bob Nolan.

        I’d hope your web pages would find their way into many homes and more important schools so the current generations can discover what pure poetic genius of the pioneer sprit is all about.


Gary Lynch

Creston, CA



October 16, 2012

I have written before about a few things, but I've been meaning to write about this for a few months. There was a page which listed three columns of artists who recorded Cool Water and being from Massachusetts I just wanted to say the Boston Pops version is just beautiful. I'm sorry I can't find it on any album. Keep up the good work. Enjoy this site very much.
Suzanne B.


October 20, 2012

Hi, I acquired a guitar and on the back of it there is a plaque that says Andrew Slye Duck Run. I am assuming this belonged to Roy Rogers Father Andrew Slye.

Just though you might enjoy seeing it and if interested in buying it from me let me know as it would be good if it went back in to the family of Andrew Slye and Roy Rogers or a museum or shop that sells western memorabilia or a web site owner who would like it for their site.

Let me know if interested and God Bless.

Michael R. Gibson
Home: (610)395-4757
Cell: (801)920-1463



 November 27, 2012

Our family is a big-time fan of Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and the Sons of the Pioneers. I have one question: Were any of them Christians? The group has some wonderful music. They are truly missed.
From a fan in Michigan


I understand that Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Tim & Velma Spencer belonged to a Hollywood Christian Fellowship.



December 12, 2012
I wish to thank you for the information that you have compiled about Bob Nolan's life.

If you are interested, I will tell you how I came upon your website. Several years ago I possessed a cassette of old gospel songs. One song, that I always got a kick out of hearing, was "When I Leave this World Behind" I did not remember the title, but I remembered a stanza in the song that, making reference to the judgment of heaven, said, "He'll hand you all a lickin' for every stolen chicken and a one-way ticket down full speed"

On occasion I had thought of the song and wanted to find another recording of it. The cassette is long gone ( The tune is actually pretty intricate.) Yesterday I did a word search for it on Google and it brought me to your web site.
I was very happy to finally find it. But once I was on your web site, I could not stop reading about Bob Nolan.

I had never heard of him before, But the first (and now that I think of it, the only) LP record that I remember my father purchasing was a Son's of the Pioneers recording. I don't know the name of the album. But I loved listening to Tumbling Tumble weeds, Ghost Riders in the Sky, and Cool water as a young boy growing up in the rural Willamette valley in Oregon in the 1950s. I loved the harmonies of the Son's of the Pioneers and found Bob Nolan's story very interesting. I also am a bit regretful that I did not know anything of the man behind these beautiful melodies. So thank you for bringing this to light.

I am a retired Airline pilot and my wife and I raised our family in the Seattle area. We are currently serving an 18 month mission for our church in Guyana, South America. The event that inspired my search happened in relation to one of the projects that we have done here. We have supplied material for chicken pens and acquired chickens and feed to help people get started raising birds. One of the participants in this project is a single woman raising 4 children. Last week someone cut open the back side of her pen and stole 25 chickens. The words to Bob Nolan's song came into my mind and reignited my search.

Thank you again
Brad Summers


December 19, 2012

It gets better and better. I love the video clips of Bob singing.
Herman Stancill


December 19, 2012

your aticle from the hall of fame hoss opera states that there was none for 1949.But I have a program from that year and it is definatly different than the 1948 program yours shows .It was held inthe S.F.Civic auditorium,in Oakland.Thought you may want to know.

We are still wondering about that one, too. We understand that, although the brochures were printed, etc, the show didn't happen. We are still waiting for confirmation in the form of a newspaper clipping, ticket stub, etc. Thank you for taking the time to write.


December 28, 2012

I bought a couple of their cd's and was treated to some of the best music I have heard in years. As I am a part time musician/guitar player I was blown away by the lyrical and musical arrangements of these songs. Then I discovered the website dedicated to your grandfather and the other pioneers and what an education I received. I am 62 years old and not easily impressed, but the talent these men possessed particularly Bob Nolan's song writing skills and Hugh and Karl Farr's musicianship on their respective instruments is amazing. To me this music is as fresh today as it must have been nearly eighty years ago.

In order to play along, for my own enjoyment, I have transcribed the chords for many of these songs and I wonder if you would permit me to send copies of these transcriptions to you for possible inclusion on this website. My reason for asking is that perhaps other guitarists may find it useful in their own pursuit of learning these songs as some of them can be diffucult to transcribe due to the wonderful arrangements. Either way, I want to thank you and Elizabeth McDonald for creating this magnificent tribute to Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers. I am sure that gathering this information was a monumental task and I hope you will be able to keep the site alive for as long as possible.

Don Henderson

We certainly accept your kind offer to share your transcribed chords and we will be delighted to add them to our site. We would create a page for you similar to Sr. Fiorelli’s. http://www.bobnolan-sop.net/Reflections/Reflections%20htms/Fiorelli,%20Carlos.htm You would have your own page so you could add to them whenever you wish.