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ē Q&A 2007
ē Q&A 2013
Would Bob Nolan's Life Make a
February 27, 2014
Myself and my husband, Ned, have an Old Time Radio
website called RUSC which we have been
updating non-stop, every week for the past 15 years. It's a massive resource!
I found your website about Bob Nolan who was involved in old time radio a long
time ago, and we have him listed as a star of old time radio in our database, as
you can see on (although I'm still updating which shows he performed in!)
I know there was definitely at least one 'Command Performance' broadcast..
I wondered if you would be kind enough to recommend the site to your readers, or
maybe link directly to the
May 16, 2014
Bobye, I did answer your messages but you must not
be receiving them. Have you checked your "Trash" and "Spam" folders?
May 20, 2014
I came upon your site while playing some of my Nolan and SOP music in my cloud,
and I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I still enjoy your
grandfather's music. Truly, it still brings me to tears in so many instances,
the words are so poignant and the music is the perfect vehicle for conveying the
words. I've played his Sound of a Pioneer album into the ground, and I still get
stopped in my tracks when
He Walks with the Wild and the Lonely comes on. Love that, and so many
others. I hope you're well and that your family continues to be blessed by your
grandfather's gifts and passion. God's blessing for you all. Thank you for
sharing your grandfather with us.
Bob Nolan's Life Make a Movie? (Your
comments and suggestions.)
May 25, 2014
Movie on Bob Nolan's Life (by
Okay, I've been thinking there should be a movie
about Bob Nolan for a long time. But for a long time I've had no idea who to
cast as Bob Nolan.
I just watched a move, "Don Jon," starring
Joseph Gordon Levitt . . .
he's the guy. His face resembles a young Bob Nolan, with a little makeup work
he'd be a ringer. He has a good speaking voice, somewhat like Nolan's', I
haven't heard him sing, but with some voice coaching and maybe a little digital
work he could be a ringer for a young Bob Nolan. And, he's a really good actor,
not well known not well established, but he can do it, he can inhabit the role,
the part. I got "Don Jon" at Redbox today.
Check it out. Yeah, it's a very Un-Nolanish part,
maybe, although I got a hunch that Bob Nolan was more than a bit of a rake in
his youth, so maybe it's not such an Un-Nolanish part!
Look at some of the other movies about country singers.
"The Last Ride," the Hank Williams story, the last couple of days of it.
"Honky Tonk Man," loosely fictionalized from the Hang Williams story, starring
Clint Eastwood, with a cameo by Marty Robbins singing the title song, "Honkey
"I Walk The Line," the Johnny Cash story.
"Nolan" is a richer, deeper, story than any of these, he was a richer, deeper,
singer, and songwriter, and poet, and philosopher. The story needs to be told,
so it isn't forgotten. It wouldn't be a high dollar production, no big CGI, it
could be a Best Picture, Best Actor, quality production on a relatively low
If it doesn't get done, a billion people will never have any idea who Bob Nolan
was, what a genius songwriter and poet he was, how, almost single-handedly, he
defined and redefined cowboy and western music for as long as there is cowboy
and western music.
"Hank Williams was one of the greatest songwriters
who ever lived . . ." so beings the
trailer for "The Last
Ride."' You guys gonna let that go in peace? Hank was good, but Bob Nolan
I have long thought that "Wandering"
is the best of the Bob Nolan songs, purely from a poetic, musical, point of
view, as well as an emotional one. It doesn't get better than this. Hank
Williams, Johnny Cash, they didn't have this depth. If I were writing a Bob
Nolan movie, I'd use this over the trailing credits. Bob Nolan had his wandering
days on the freights . . . "Emperor
of the North" is a model for part of the Bob Nolan story. Who else could
write this stuff [The
Touch of God's Hand], or sing like this at 69? - this is a movie that needs
to be made, a story that needs to be told.
Writing the end of the movie, a lot of it could be
the recording of "Sound of a Pioneer," with the music from the record dubbed
into the acting, not the whole record, but several of the most memorable songs.
Find someone to do the Marty Robbins part on "Man
Walks Among Us." Even if the vocals are 100% dubbed, I think
Joaquin Phoenix is
the guy to do the walk on for Marty Robbins in the studio for "Man Walks Among
Us." He's got the chops
We think it is an excellent idea, Ray. We don't
have any idea of how to initiate it, unfortunately. What do you Bob Nolan fans
think? Any comments or
Miles as a young Clarence.
- Calin Coburn
Image: Miles Coburn and Great
Grandfather, Bob Nolan
There've been some other really
good movies about singers and songwriters and musicians, such as "Ray,
the Ray Charles story".
There's a lot of meat it the Bob Nolan story, the homeless
years, riding the rails, the hobo, and a lot I don't know that you and Calin do,
how it got started with Leonard Sly and Tim Spencer, the early years when the
Rocky Moutaineers were doing live radio in L.A., the Madison Square Garden show
in 1947, as I recall, when the Pioneers packed the Garden for 19 consecutive
nights, something no other musical performance (so far as I know) has ever done.
I'll see if I can ask a few people, see if they know a way to
get started, how to get to someone who might be interested in producing and
directing. Talk it up to people you know, somebody will know somebody.
The Charlie Parker Story.
Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. Wonder if he'd be interested in the Bob
Nolan story, he's gettin' old, but he did "Behind The Curve," last year,
produced, directed, starred. Good baseball story. He's done music. He's done a
lot of Westerns. Western Music should be a natural. Anybody know anybody who
The Bobbie Darin story (Beyond
the Sea) Kevin Spacey directs and stars as Bobby Darin, and he's AWESOME,
singing in his own voice, he's a ringer for Darin, and a huge fan, he grew up
very poor, his mom told him his voice was his ticket out of the slums . . .
never in good health, died way too young . . . get it if you can, worth buying
The Cole Porter Story.
GREAT music movie about Cole Porter, great music, great soundtrack CD. Then
there's "Amadeus," the Mozart story, and "Immortal Beloved," the Beethoven
story. Could be "Wandering," the Bob Nolan story.
Anybody down at the Western
Music Association know anybody in the movie business who might know somebody who
might be interested? Maybe Doug Green, Ranger Doug, Riders in the Sky? Jack
Hannah? Sons of the San Joaquin. I can ask them about it. But there's a lot of
people in the WMA I don't know, I've been out of that loop for a long time.
I just emailed Larry Maurice, see if he has any ideas. He's
got his fingers in a lotta pies. That guy who stars in "Don Jon" - a role VERY
unlike the Bob Nolan story - but he has the eyes, as soon as I saw him on
screen, I said to myself something like "Oh my God, he's got the eyes, he could
Gotta find a producer. Director, Screenwriter who can work
with you and Cailin to develop the story. Maybe put up something on the website,
that you're interested in doing a movie about the life and music of Bob Nolan,
you need to find a producer, or producers, director, and writer, see what
happens, can't hurt.
How about Rusty Richards? He knows a bunch of people down
- Ray Kraft
May 25, 2014
I like the movie idea, although I donít know
much about the ins & outs of movie-making. I assume the writer (and acting)
would have to be really good (in order to get good reviews, so that people would
go to see it) because not as many people know who Bob was, compared to, say,
Hank Williams, only because the Country genre has a huge audience. The first big
challenge is getting financial backing. Closely associated with that is finding
the right director Ė and they may be related in that the backing might be easier
if a well-known director were already on board.
May 25, 2014
IF DONE RIGHT (BY THE RIGHT PEOPLE), IT COULD BE
FABULOUS. I AM THINKING OF THE MUSIC. IT COULD KNOCK YOU OUT. I KNOW A GUY WHO
WORKS FOR CLINT EASTWOOD. JERRY WHITTINGTON OF HIGH POINT, NORTH CAROLINA. HIS E
MAIL ADDRESS IS; email@example.com
YOU COULD ASK HIM TO PUT IT TO CLINT. CLINT MIGHT WANT TO TALK WITH CALIN. I HAD
NOT THOUGHT OF IT, BUT, WHAT POSSIBILITIES. WISH THEY WOULD LET ME APPROVE THE
CASTING AND SCRIPT. THE SOUND RECORDING SHOULD BE DONE ESPECIALLY WELL. I THINK
BACK TO THE JOLSON STORY. HARRY COHN SPENT EXTRA ON THE MUSIC RECORDINGS. THEY
- BUDDY BRYANT
May 25, 2014
OMG! What a fantastic idea!!!! With the baby
boomer generation in full swing, I would think there would be a real market for
a Bob Nolan story. So many people are familiar with Tumblin Tumblweeds and Cool
water and to put a face to the music would be tremendous. I can just hear the
"Wow! I never knew much about that fellow-what a life and career!!!"
Bob had such an amazing life and one that would fascinate movie goers who want
adventure and a tale of a colorful life. He was handsome, struggled in the
romance department, ignored the call of stardom for the sake of stardom, bit of
a loner yet loyal to friends. Isn't it everything a young girl dreams about in
an untouchable dream hero?????
I just get excited thinking about it!
- Jan Scott
May 25, 2014
What a splendid idea! Yes, twenty-seven of us
(from all over the world) would love it, and the others, the hip-hop and rap
folks, would have no clue that itís interesting, uplifting, even exciting. There
may come a time when all of us are inspired to look back in time, but right now,
I fear that the prospects are disappointing. Iím watching our fan-base die-off,
and we came along twenty-years after The SOtheP, so it would be a hard-sell, I
believe, to motivate those who still watch movies. Maybe the History Channel
would take an interest; the subject would be perfect for that medium. You have
my vote, but thatís not much, I know.
- Randy Sparks (New Christy Minstrels)
May 25, 2014
Just got done reading the messages. Couldn't help
but think about Paul Revere, Evangeline, and Myles Standish, all but forgotten
to history until Henry Wadsworth Longfellow produced Epic poems that told their
story. I think this movie proposal could do the same thing for Bob Nolan. I can
almost see the story:
1. Canadian beginnings - brief but influential.
allow me to insert how interesting I found it that Jean in her biography on
Michael Earl hardly mentions
Bob at all. I wonder if that was intentional or if there just wasn't much
interaction between the two.
3. Days of struggle
4. Days of Success
Not sure about what happened in Bob's later years. Would the story end best at
the 1947 Madison Square garden? Brimming with excitement and think it's a
fabulous idea. Scrolling through my head and thinking of any contacts that I
might have. I know a couple of guys in the Independent film industry that I
might be able to ask advice from for you if that would be a help.
My thoughts are:
1. Screenplay - Who would write it?
2. Location - Where should it be shot?
3. Who might be left in Hollywood that would be connected to Roy Rogers
(Leonard) or his legacy?
Actually the person I think of that loves westerns the most is Tom Selleck. If
he could buy in to a project like this, it would get done. Wow. Wow. Wow. My
opinion: The sooner the better.
- Trent Boyd
May 25, 2014
Yes, a movie might be a good idea. But based upon Ray's suggestions it wouldn't
get off the ground. It's too song-writer, performer, actor idolizing. He wants a
hype to push good, good, good about Bob and his work without looking at the
backside; the conflicts with Pearl, with P'nut, with the group, with the
publishers, with the hanger ons and credit seekers. It's not the heroic story of
a footloose traveler, singer, songwriter (even if he did get blisters in the
early days), it's the story of keeping food coming in and shelter over your head
of a local talent, in local bands who finally struck gold as a dominant part of
a particular organism. The story told in the Hallmark style would bore those
whose only interest is the music and do a disservice to Bob's life as he lived
it. He was a man with his own standards, own foibles, and definite ideas of
sharing work and credit.
Since there is no 'great' event or conflict it would have to
be a story developed within the framework of eras and the people that were most
important and connective to Bob and to getting the 'show' together. (King, for
instance with his Standard Transcriptions (and all other transcription series
also)). How did he really work with the changes in personnel caused by the war,
caused by the exit of Len, and later with the assumptions of Hugh Farr. You need
conflict for a good story otherwise you may just as well do a concert film.
I should also note the minimal
depth of past films Ray has. Doesn't mention the Hank Williams Story at all. His
views are all from relatively recent films. He obviously has no concept of how
films are made, or rated for awards: "Nolan" is a richer, deeper, story than any
of these, he was a richer, deeper, singer, and songwriter, and poet, and
philosopher. The story needs to be told, so it isn't forgotten. It wouldn't be a
high dollar production, no big CGI, it could be a Best Picture, Best Actor,
quality production on a relatively low budget."
Since ANY picture could be a Best Picture, Best Actor,
quality production on a relatively low budget but aren't since all that award
stuff comes after completion of a film not from what someone envisions should
happen with no talent input to something he exalts in his own mind.
Don't forget Bruce Willis for
May 25, 2014
First of all, I don't think
it's fair to call to mind films like The Charlie Parker Story, or the Ray
Charles Story or the Bobby Darin Story. Those fellows were widely known before
those films were made. Furthermore, those gentleman had turbulent lives that
lent themselves readily to the screen. Bob was a private man and, as far as I
know, his life was not punctuated by the kinds of sensational aspects that were
inherent in these other lives. What's more, I feel that any movie, apart from
one that focused purely on his artistic achievements, would be seen by him as an
invasion of his privacy. I think this consideration needs to be borne in mind
In summary, I feel that those of us who appreciate his music
and hold him in high esteem for his integrity and quiet dignity don't need a
movie to keep his memory alive. And if there were a movie made I feel that his
life story would not generate the kind of broad-based interest to make it
financially worthwhile. Perhaps that observation alone is proof of what a
worthwhile life it was.
One other tangential thought,
Elizabeth. When Holly Warren wrote "Public Cowboy #1", she had the good sense to
get it out shortly after Gene died. As you know, it's a fine book. But at that
time Gene's memory was still fresh. I also hoped to see an honest biography on
Roy. Now I have no hope of ever seeing this happen. Fewer and fewer people
remember both Roy and Gene today. And they died in 1998. Bob died in 1980 and he
was never nearly as popular as Gene or Roy.
- Bob Serkey
May 25, 2014
I remember Ray Kraft from the early days of the
WMA, a good songwriter.
Here's what I think about such a project.
#1 Nolan's name is not exactly a household word except to the cognoscente, and
that group is really a small, small element of the movie going public. You would
have to get it produced soon enough so that even that small crowd would still be
alive to see it.
#2 The most important aspect of the project would be in the writing, as
Shakespeare observed, "The play's the thing."
#3 I see this biopic as a cable production and not a major studio feature.
#4 If I were in charge of such a production, I would hit it from the documentary
standpoint, thus allowing plenty of room for archival footage of Nolan and the
#5 I would have a committee composed of folks like, you, Calin, Doug Green, and
other knowledgeable Nolan devotees, like Dick Goodman, for example, who would
oversee the entire project and to insure that it didn't get hokey, or corny, or
non-factual, for that matter.
#6 If the documentary path is chosen, it would be far cheaper than a major
production. You might divide the project into sections and have specific
individuals write up the historical aspects of each part i.e., early life,
founding of the Pioneers, movie aspects, songwriting and recording aspects, and
Nolan after retirement, for example.
- Fess (AKA Dave Bourne)
May 25, 2014
Well it sounds like a good idea
but it seems Hollywood would want some type of dirt or scandal in his life for
box office attraction and Bob didn't have any of that in his life. But you know
Hollywood they would probably put some in somewhere even if it isn't perfectly
true. Bob was not an alcoholic, do drugs, run around and he was not gay. He
lived a clean spiritual life as far as I know and hope.
How about someone contacting Snuff Garrett, Clint Black,
Riders in the Sky and others like that to ask for assistance and contacts? It
sounds like an exciting idea that I do support but I would be worried about how
a studio would make it.
If Harry Cohn couldn't convince
Bob to be his "Golden Boy" on the screen what right do we have to make his life
public? We all know he wouldn't have wanted the fame or the money. He would have
been uncomfortable enough with your website. But he probably could have lived
with that because at least here he can be celebrated for what he, too, felt was
enduring about his life. These would-be screenwriters need to understand that a
man who escaped regularly to Big Bear treasured his privacy. It seems to me that
we would desecrate his essence by bringing his life story to the screen.
- Fred Sopher
May 26, 2014
Yes it would [make a movie],
but the audience would be limited. For the very reasons others have already
stated. HOWEVER - it's all in how it's marketed. And by whom. The bigger the
name, the bigger the market.
Yes, I remember Ray - a nice and very talented man and maybe
would know of an entertainment lawyer who would be able to offer advice before
getting in too deep with the slick Hollywood types. Or maybe a literary agent
who would come on board to represent you/Calin or be able to recommend a good
I would be VERY careful if somebody in Hollywood does show
any interest - and not sign over ANY rights if you do get a request for a script
or even a 'treatment' - the basics of who, what, when, where, why - written. And
get final script/film editing approval rights - ya gotta fight for them - unless
you are putting up all or the majority of the money and then you basically can
call the shots. That's where the advice of an entertainment lawyer would come in
very handy. Pricey, but could save you some major heartburn.
Am sure you've already considered the money aspect - you're
talking tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for a quality
production - sets, costumes, location scouting/use, crews (and the ever present
unions unless you go to a right to work state like Texas) equipment, film,
professional editing, security, catering, etc.
The Discovery or maybe the Learning Channel or History
Channel would be excellent places that should consider a project like this. More
of a documentary than a movie - which should be tons cheaper to film. And with a
known name for the voice-over. Tom Selleck or Clint Eastwood - maybe. Good ones
to pursue with the idea, that's for sure.
Also, RFD TV - if not as a producer, then Patrick Gotsch, the
owner, might be able to put you in touch with somebody like producer Larry
Black, who does the Country's Family Reunion shows and has done a TON of videos.
And if it's done well enough, the film could also be offered
to music schools, film schools, etc for teaching purposes. Lots of
possibilities, but getting there - well... am not trying to be a wet blanket -
just trying to be Devil's Advocate.
However, that being said - Snuff Garret, if he's still around
and able, would be a good place to start since he's been around and working
in/for Hollywood for a long, long time. He might know an independent studio or
film maker who might be interested and would be able to keep costs down better
than the suits in a big studio.
What about Hal Spencer as a source - he's been around since
before I was born and he must have influential contacts in the business. Maybe
among his Nashville friends.
An off the wall idea would be Bill Gaither - am not sure if
you're familiar with him, but he's very much into Gospel Music and has a ton of
tv shows and albums. Don't have any idea if he's familiar with Nolan, but
contacting him might be a good opportunity for backing or advice.
Garth Brooks - he's been actively promoting himself the past
few months and might see either financing or narrating a good step. He's
recorded a few western songs too. Or Randy Travis - who seemed to enjoy that
program he made with Roy Rogers. He was at their 50th Anniversary (me too) and
is a big Roy fan - so who knows.
Like I said, it's a great idea, and I would like to see
something come of it.
- Michelle Sundin
May 26, 2014
I read the thread and can't get
nearly as excited as some of the others that have chimed in. I've seen most of
the movies that people cited. Except for "Ray" most of them weren't very good
and received marginal reviews at best. The subjects were tragic figures and I
would think at least part of the appeal the movies had were from the same people
that gawk at car accidents.
No one mentioned "The Buddy Holly Story", "Great Balls of
Fire", "The Doors", "Something for the Boys". For every *good* biopic, there are
dozens that bomb. IMO if the film is done badly, Bob at best would experience a
temporary rise in popularity and at worst run the risk of forever being
associated with schlock. Not a very dignified legacy.
Bob led an interesting life and while his music is widely
familiar his name is not. I would think the movie would be of very limited
appeal and a difficult project to sell. Or worse, heavily fictionalized to make
it viable, ie sex and scandal. The only biopic that I can think of made in the
last 50 years that didn't rely on that was "Coal Miner's Daughter". Another
hurdle, there is no way to tell the story about Bob without telling the story of
Roy. What kind of control and financial interest would RR Inc. insist on?
Ultimate the decision would be up to the family? I'd love a
documentary - has anyone approached any PBS stations? I think Bob would
Sorry to rain on your parade. I just don't see it. Please
keep me posted on what transpires.
- Kathy Kirchner
May 26, 2014
A number of the replies have
touched on the realities of building a movie for a general audience that would
support the investment and give a decent return to the investors. I am by no
means an expert on this subject but have been involved with the film industry by
chance and that I grew up in SoCal around that culture. Investors such as a
major studios set the rules and parameters using a formal that fits the current
state of the industry. Those making the final decisions have their input on what
makes a film successful. Thatís why we see violence, sex, action and numerous
other facets of a film used to stimulate the minds of the general audience the
film is meant to please. Myself, those projects I was close to disappointed me
as I am more of a documentarian than an entertainment based writer.
Ken Burns does a subject proud
and his work is meaningful and will hold up over many generations as it is fact
based and truth is more interesting than fiction over the long haul.
A film focusing on Bobís life alone is probably not a home
run as they say. The subject to too narrow and the audience too small. A
documentary on The Sons or Cowboy, Hillbilly and Mountain music would have more
appeal. With that said, documentaries are not financed easily. Like my books,
they are often a labor of love with hopes to break even. Anything above that is
appreciated. I would love to see a Bob Nolan film but the likelihood of getting
financing on his life alone would be a tough sell. It often comes down to the
funding. If a benefactor would pay for the film and all involved in building it,
that would be great. But as soon as the suits from studios get involved, there
goes the documentary and here comes their so called formula for success and with
that may just do the Bob Nolan legacy a disservice.
Bob Nolan and his era is a
great idea to build a film around. A documentary of the phenomenon of B Westerns
and pre 1950 Cowboy music or those subjects would make it of interest to at
least a narrow audience who loves that history. Just how this would be
accomplished would need to be thought out and executed by those with not only
love for that period but people with great insight so it does not turn into
anything less than what it should be. The cost of building a film is high even
if on a shoestring budget. I find the film industry as a whole to be consumed by
itself and those in charge. Thatís why actors that think for themselves go rouge
and build a film they are in charge of not the suits.
A graduate student who is
exceptional maybe even brilliant that wants a subject for their Ph.D. or Masters
who is attending a quality college could that specializes in film may help with
- Gary Lynch
May 26, 2014
I think a documentary would be
a much better idea. AND long overdue. If you could find somebody with a video
quality, high end digital movie camera, and have a script or outline to work
from, it could be done a lot easier than a full blown studio production. And
Calin would have control of it from start to finish. That would take out the
possibility that it would be exploitive or sensationalized. Which indeed is what
'sells' these days in LaLa Land.
Am not sure how it could be edited, but again, working from a
clear treatment/outline, you could film it progressively, or by segments, which
would easier on the budget and tempers, and then fit it all together as you
wished. Then you could find a 'name' to do the voice over. Too bad Rex is long
gone - he loved the music and the man. Maybe Junior. Or maybe Mike Rowe - a very
popular voice over guy right now (Dirtiest Jobs, Ford commercials, Deadliest
Catch) or even better - Sam Elliott!!! The personification of the Western Man,
with a great and recognizable voice. Geez, if you could get him behind it - that
would be phenom!
Remember also, you would have to get permission from whomever
holds the rights to any SoP performances to show them. Whether it be the SoP or
Columbia Pictures, record labels...Sheesh - just featuring Bob would be the
best, he was more than talented. Way beyond that.
Kinda gets the juices flowing, doesn't it! The possibilities
and knowing the tribute would be there for those who remember and those who
May 26, 2014
I either have met Ray or have
exchanged e-mails with him. I donít recall which. I have spent some time reading
through the various views on the website about such a venture, and I do think
that there should be some place for such a presentation. I considered your
question a bit before reading the responses, just to have a basic position from
which to consider them. Although I have had merely a toe dip in the
entertainment business, I have been fortunate to have friendships with several
people who are deeply into it, so I base my view on what I have learned from
I agree with those who think it would be impossible to do a
major theater film on Bobís life, precisely because he was such a private person
and that to build something beyond that would be either inaccurate and a
disservice to Bobís memory. I do think that something about his music, perhaps
even the exploration of why he wrote some of his more noted ones and some of his
excellent less known ones, provided this did not invade his privacy, would be an
excellent and a much needed project for tv. The first show that comes to my mind
is the one that does a lot of biography, ďAmerican Experience.Ē I also think it
would be imperative that those few remaining people in the business who knew Bob
or his music best should be the primary resources for such a venture. Snuff, of
course, I would consider indispensable, but Larry and Doug would be next to him.
The website is a wonder!
- Gene Davenport
May 26, 2014
YES! I've always thought Mr.
Nolan's life (and the story of the SOPs) would make an INCREDIBLE stage musical
or movie! SO MUCH history and material! I've also always wished I could be
involved with a project like this too! As a songwriter myself, or an actor
or...in ANY way! Heck, I'd run and get the coffee! :-)
But seriously, I really do believe this project would bridge
a huge generational gap between what we consider "Pop Music" today and what Mr.
Nolan's contribution to "Pop Music" was back in his day! This project simply
NEEDS to be done! Please do let me know if there is ANY way I can help.
- Rob "Tumbleweed Rob" Wolfskill
May 26, 2014
No way is it feasible today to make a Bob Nolan
biopic. Other than our group and fans of Western music who would know who he
was? That would be fan worship ignoring reality and common sense, much as I wish
it were possible.
Colin Momber (UK)
May 26, 2014I'm sorry but I have
the same sentiments as Colin, Editor & Publisher of "Wranglers Roost' -
the forty four year old B Western magazine. I don't think one on Roy
would work either unfortunately.
May 26, 2014
The Nolan Movie is a great Idea, but it
will have to be done pretty soon if Dick Goodman , Bob
Wagoner and I are going to keep the phrasing, feel,
and arrangements honest. There's always the recordings, but
it is amazing how many get it worn even though they have
them to go by. Still a great idea. Hope someone really does
it. I would love to see it.
May 26, 2014
I do not know Ray
Kraft, but I am certainly familiar with the song "Silver Spurs".
I would rather see a "documentary" on Bob Nolan, say in the
style of Ken Burns. A documentary would allow the producer to use all of
these wonderful interviews about Bob (and by Bob), using the actual
voices of the Pioneers, etc. I fear that in a movie, they would try to
embellish his life in ways that might not be flattering to Bob, and that
would not be fair. There is always that risk.
After saying that, if a movie were to be made, maybe the
focus should be on the history of the Sons of the Pioneers. In that
case, there would have to be equal billing for both Bob Nolan and
I guess the fundamental question is "would Bob approve of a
movie about himself?". I never got the chance to meet him, so I don't
pretend to know how he would feel about it. But judging from what others
have said through the years, it sounds like he was a very private
person, so who knows.
It's an interesting idea, but my personal opinion is that a
Ken Burns style documentary, with all of the actual music and excerpts
of some of the interviews would be a wonderful thing.
- Jeff Wagoner
May 27, 2014
I read all the
comments. Good. I disagree with some of them. I think the people who
criticize me for not having any idea how movies are made are too funny,
I didn't claim to be any kind of expert.
I don't think it should be a documentary, that's a VERY
limited audience. I think it should be a biopic, done with the quality
of "De-Lovely," including all the conflicts, beginning with childhood,
divorce, being left with his grandfather, never seeing his mother again,
never even knowing her name . . . just "mother."
To work, it has to be done very well, can't be half ass, have
to recreate the times, the 20s, 30s, 40s, have to cast the Sons of the
Pioneers as they were in the 30s, 40s, that will take a bunch of work
and voice coaching, but it can be done. Will people who aren't fans come
out to see it? Only if it's really good.
I had a neighbor for awhile, a jerk, he was a drummer in a
metal band, and they were bad, they made Metallica sound like Mozart,
but he was a good drummer. We got together and played a couple of times,
me and my guitar, he on the drums, had some fun, he had never heard of
Western music before, but he picked up on the lilt pretty fast. I played
the casettte, Sierra, Legends of the West. He was amazed. He'd never
heard anything like that before. He said, "You guys were 30 years too
late, if you'd been in the 50s you'd have been HUGE." Probably right.
Look at the singers people go for on American Idol, England's
Got Talent, etc. Paul Potts brought down the house doing opera. Most
people know quality when they hear it. One of the writers thought he
could get the idea to Clint. You gotta talk to him.
If you do it as a documentary, you sell it to the devout. If
you do it as a biopic, a musical drama, it could be big, it could go to
Look at what was it, "Silver Linings Playbook," the movie
about two mentally ill people and all their drama, that took more
Academy Awards than anything else. It will be different, full of music
that lots of people have never heard of, but the people who have heard
of it keep packing the Chuckwagon Ranch theaters summer after summer,
and the Sons of the Pioneers shows in Branson, and they keep coming out
for Riders in the Sky and the Sons of the San Joaquin. I'm not in the
movie business loop, I just think it's a great idea, I hope you can give
it your best shot.
Silver Linings Playbook Watch this
movie. Very unusual. Nobody had ever heard of the characters before the
movie came out. Who would have thought a movie about mentally ill people
would be nominated for Best Picture, and pick up a couple of other
Academy Awards for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting?
Honky Tonk Man
with a walk on by Marty Robbins. I just noticed that Rotten Tomatoes
scored Honky Tonk Man 93%! - I can't remember ever seeing RT score
another movie that high. Clint plays a washed out country singer who's
trying to survive and dying of tuberculosis. His big break, he gets a
chance to record his song, Honky Tonk Man, then starts coughing blood
halfway through. Marty Robbins is Smoky, the guitar player, who steps in
and saves the song.
The Pianist -
Nobody in America - including me - had ever heard of Vladislav
Szpilman, until Roman Polanski made "The Pianist," I think it got Best
Pic. I watch it again every couple of years. Amazing, sad, beautiful,
inspiring film, story. And how about "42," the Jackie Robinson story?
Great movie. How many people today remember Jackie Robinson, learned of
him from the movie?
If there's no way to expand the base of people who know about
Bob Nolan and the Pioneers, then as people my age and older die off, the
music will vanish, because nobody will know about it. I'm 62, and it is
a rare occasion to meet anyone younger than myself who has ever heard of
Bob Nolan or the Pioneers. When I moved to Sacramento in 1993, I spent
the next ten years! trying to get a band of any size together to do
Western music, didn't work, I interviewed maybe 40 musicians, some of
them very good, but none of them had ever heard of Bob Nolan or the
Just 'cause 90% of the
people now have no memory of Bob Nolan, doesn't mean it can't be a good,
inspiring story that a lot of people will go see. Voice over. The story
begins. "When I was eight, my mother left me with my grandfather, my
dad's father. I never saw her again. I never knew her name. Just,
mother. Grandad was good to me, then my dad took me away to live in
Tucson. I was alone a lot, wandering out in the desert . . . going to
school . . . I began to write some poetry. I remember this one . . .
Tumbling Leaves ..."
May 27, 2014
Bob's story is
fascinating. He came as close to living life on his own terms as anyone
I've ever known. The drama of his early life, the struggles with the
Rocky Mountaineers and the early Pioneer days. We both agree that he was
a musical genius who wrote song that will still be sung and played far
into the future. Those are some of the positives about his story.
The negatives include: Country and Western music (which
Hollywood lumps together,,, they don't know there's a difference) has
never fared well on the big screen with the exception of Urban Cowboy an
O Brother Where Art Thou. Studio heads know nothing about music except
what they heard when they were driving to work that morning. They've
never heard of Bob, the Pioneers or, quite probably, Roy.
As best I see it, the strongest likelihood of doing something
about Bob would be in two different areas. T Bone Burnett has produced
the music for several films in recent years including O Brother Where
Art Thou. If he could be interested in Bob's story that would be
important because he has contacts in the film industry but that would
also entail his willingness to get involved beyond record production.
The other way is to attract interest to Bob via a biography.
A quality biography would lay out all the fascination of Bob's life and
career. The drama, the success, the failures and the lasting impact of
his music. But that involves finding a writer willing to dedicate
several years to this, getting a publisher and hoping the book turns out
well and attracts interest.
On the whole I'd say it's discouraging. Various producers
have talked about a film based on Roy and Dale's life for years. Several
have gotten started and none have made it very far even with the
approval of Roy, Dale and their manager At Rush. A lady I know has been
trying to get a film made about Dale's life before she went into Roy's
films. The drama of her story would make an amazing film.... She's not
gotten very far even with Cheryl Rogers' support (the lady took out an
option on Cheryl's book).
So while you and I would love to see such a film. and even
tho the story has the substance to make it a success the problem is
there aren't any car crashes in the story... or aliens kidnapping
Bob.... or bombs blowing up... or the CIA interrogating Bob.... kind of
a dull story when you think of it.
On a more serious note
another possibility would be a documentary on public television... if
you can get a producer and get underwriting from some wealthy individual
or company. There's another documentary possibility about which I know
nothing but you do. Bob was honored by a Canadian Music organization and
Bob is quite possibliity the most important musical figure to come from
Canada. So CBC or the Canadian equivalent of public television (if there
is one) might be the place to go for a documentary. The best thing would
be a documentary... and that's not hopeless. PBS (public television)
here does some good documentaries. That's the best route and the story
is worth telling.
- Laurence Zwisohn
May 27, 2014
Bob's life, if highlighted and dramatized
in the right places, could be interesting enough to merit a movie.
Probably not enough to be profitable, though. To tap into a larger
audience, you could make it more of a film about the singing cowboy
thing as a whole, through the eyes of Bob Nolan. Or using the story of
his life as a way to talk about it. 'Cause you could pique people's
interest about singing cowboys. It's a really intriguing cultural
Unfortunately no groups now are going to do the Pioneers
justice, so the music in the film might be a challenge if you don't
overdub. And there would have to be lots of music, of course!
The group of people who would be interested in 'the life of
Nolan' is a very small niche, and they already know most of it anyway.
Thus, I think it would be safer to broaden the focus. The movie would
have to be so masterfully done that it broke out of the realm of
'singing cowboy fanatics' (which unfortunately is not a big enough group
to make the movie viable).
May 27, 2014
In order for the film
to be really successful, I think it would have to be something of a
sociological study on singing cowboys in American culture. To tap into a
larger audience, you could make it more of a film about the singing
cowboy thing as a whole, through the eyes of Bob Nolan. Or using the
story of his life as a way to talk about it. 'Cause you could pique
people's interest about singing cowboys. It's a really intriguing
May 27, 2014
I have the movies Ray Kraft wrote. It'
very interesting to know the things about the singers we like,
especially in movies. A movie about Bob Nolan will be a wonderful
oportunity to all of us SOP fans to know in movies, the Nolan's story.
I'll like to see details about Nolan's life, and the moments he wrote
the songs we know.
Very nice idea.
- Bob Costa (Brazil)
May 27, 2014
For someone to cite
Holly George-Warren's "Public Cowboy no. 1" as an example a fine
biography they are doing themselves and the world a disservice. The
crate of crap is loaded with factual errors, a failure to explain much
of the material presented, anachronistic data, wrong attributions, and a
clutter of "how Gene got his name" without ever putting any effort into
discerning the closest to the truth (and missing a most apt
explanation). She includes multiple pictures of the fan club president
when one is more than sufficient while not giving us a glimpse of Gene's
'magic' railroad pass on which he did all sorts of things without regard
to railroad rules or regulations.
By page 47 I had 26 post-it notes citing errors, oversights
and general lack of depth. Clutter isn't depth. She combines material in
the sessionography so that the two different issues of Frankie & Johnny,
with two different writer credits are lumped together with no
explanation or background. And then there is the completely useless, but
space saving decision not to list release numbers, only the label
abbreviations to make collector's pull their hair out in aggravation for
the lack of information. But then she knows her stuff. After all, years
earlier she was editor on a country music book in which it was stated
that Billy Hill wasn't a real name but a joke on Hill Billy.
I've got to "jet off" right now. That last is a quote from
the Autry book when Holly describes Gene's duties in the South Pacific
years before there were jet transports.
May 27, 2014
By the way I was thinking about the Bob
Nolan movie proposal and remember seeing a movie several years ago about
the Superman TV Show that was made by a Hollywood Studio. They really
tore down my hero. I remember watching this show as a child and just
loved it. But the movie really made fun of Superman and Clark Kent. I
fear they would do the same with a Nolan Movie. It seems Hollywood used
to make movies with good values and sent a good message but now they
praise the evil ones and bring down the good. We stopped going to movies
years ago. When I watch a movie on Turner Classic Movies it makes me sad
to see how far the movie making industry have fallen.
- Fred Sopher
May 27, 2014
Well, given the recent surge in the
popularity of "Roots" Music and Americana this couldn't be more timely.
More and more young people are coming into the Traditional American
Music fold and Bob Nolan's contribution is a HUGE component of it's
history and evolution. I think now is the time to bridge the gap of
discovery for these kids along with tugging at the nostalgic hearts of
the more mature audience. It's a window that shouldn't be passed or
lost. I do hope this gets off the ground!
May 27, 2014
RE: Fred May 27 Posting - Superman movie.
The film you are referring to is Hollywoodland starring Ben
Affleck as George Reeves. The film did not make fun of Superman and
Clark Kent but presented them pretty much as they were portrayed in the
series, a show for children whose discernment of the characters and
background was augmented only by the Superman, Action, or World's Finest
comics they may have looked through or perhaps read.
What the film did attempt to do was present the people behind
the roles, their ambitions, their drives and some failures. Real people
are not comic book heroes. The comic book heroes were portrayed while
the cameras were running but at the call of 'cut' you were watching the
actors, the real people and they just don't behave the way heroes, comic
book or otherwise do.
Yes, Hollywood did have a knack for making films with good
messages and social values but Hollywood also had a knack, a driving
force really, to control the lives of their contractees and suppress
wherever and however they could behavior that would be anathema to the
box office, the bottom line. This behind the scenes manipulation was
depicted in Hollywoodland. I'm sure you've seen and enjoyed films
starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn at one time or another and
probably wondered how a good married Catholic guy could be messing
around on his wife. This is a case of sneaky Hollywood suppression. The
cheating Catholic story was the cover that still allowed both of them to
be acceptable to the public with scattered grumbles. The story was
covering an even worse situation back there in the day. They were both
You're probably worried that a bio pic on Bob would put him
in a bad light, outside the halo glow of your hero worship. It doesn't
have to be a warts and all story but there have to be some warts because
no one is perfect and with out imperfections. Without conflict, loss and
travail there is no story of attainment.
Get over the fact that the entertainment community is heavily
laden with imperfect personnel and try to embrace their products for
what they are.
May 30, 2014
I enjoyed reading the
posts (especially Larry Hopper's!) but on the whole I honestly don't see
a dramatic movie as likely. Not enough name recognition, not enough
drama. Heck nobody but us flamekeepers knows who Roy Rogers is any more,
much less Bob. The three musical biopics that come to mind of recent
years (Cash, Charles, Piaf) were about performers who were household
names, who either overcame or succumbed to addiction. Whatever demons
Bob struggled with (we all have them), he kept them private.
Those voices calling for a documentary are intriguing,
though. The Nolan legacy ought to be exposed to a wider audience,
although I think the web site is doing a wonderful job, and in this
modern age that is where people are both discovering and preserving, not
so much in theaters.
May 30, 2014
I think it's time to
think fusion regarding a Bob Nolan movie. Even if we could put
everything from the website into a story about Bob it wouldn't be
sufficient to sell it. Especially as a dramatic with music offering.
The documentary route would be less than fulfilling except
for excerpted soundbites of music. (Would 'excerpted soundbites' be
redundant?). Keeping in mind the outstanding, brain bending work by Ken
Burns on his many documentaries several times I've had the "only the
subjects have been changed to create interest" feel from the almost
monotone presentations. I was watching the first chapter of "American
Roots Music" yesterday, having missed it when first broadcast, and found
the mix of interview clips, vintage and new music footage, newsreels and
sparse narration comfortable and informative and imbued with a
transmitted sense of the past.
As well done as any of these they wouldn't suffice. We need a
mix of vintage footage, re-enactments without the video colorists
cramming browns, ochres, yellows and washed out pasty flesh tones down
our throats in the name of art. Seems to me that with all those color
imbalanced 'artistic' presentations a lot of people are forgetting there
were blue skies, green trees and white clouds which our ancestors
I think the secret to the project is in the title "Tumbling
Tumbleweeds" with the membership of the O-Bar-O Cowboys, Pioneer Trio,
Farley's Gold Star Rangers and the Sons of the Pioneers becoming the
metaphoric windblown, scraggly fauna. It's all there, all the pieces,
with each contributing to the complete story. Without the group outlet
for Bob's talent he may have become the world's least known oldest caddy
Doug, thanks for the tip of the Stetson.
May 30, 2014
I have read the
opinions of others (at last there was something in Q and A). Some good
points and some with which to disagree or have a good discussion. I
think some kind of a documentary rather than a movie would be the way to
go. A&E, History Channel, etc. have done good jobs in the past. Last
night at dinner with a friend, I asked if she knew who Bob was and, of
course, her answer was ďnoĒ. However, when I mentioned he was the
composer of TUMBLING TUMBLE WEEDS and COOL WATER and possibly a feature
on him might be in the works, would she watch it? Yes was her answer.
Bobís early life was tragic (to me) and how much is known of
his wandering years, when he left Pearl and before he ended up in CA?
Those missing years would certainly be interesting if we only knew about
them. The Pioneer Trio would have to be part of his story, how Tim and
Roy convinced him to try again. Without Bobís songs and voice, I wonder
how far the group would have gone without him?
I would love the idea of a presentation on Bob , his works
and his life. Movie or documentary? I would go with the documentary.
May 31, 2014
With a resounding YES,
I think there should be a film made of Bob Nolan and the Sons Of The
Should it be a movie or documentary? I'm no film expert but
here's my 2 centsÖ
My first choice would be to see it happen as a movie. It goes
without saying, but make it as big as the budget and copyright
permissions will allow. As long as it stays true to the legacy of Nolan
and the Pioneers. Especially the music. Perhaps mix and match archival
material with recreated. There can be interesting scenes in the story
without resorting to the dirty laundry and reality show drama that is so
rampant nowadays. With dynamics in the storyline (low and high points),
action shots and nice scenery it can hold the attention of the audience.
Add in the great music and it should be a winner. And of course include
some good publicity.
It doesn't have to be a huge Hollywood production. As an
independent film, it may win over the younger audience and get them
interested in the legacy of not only Nolan and his group, but of all
things Western. There are generations coming up that have no clue,
sadly, of Western Swing music, B Western movies and their stars. This is
one way to turn them on to the culture. And besides, many indie films
have moved up the ladder to win Academy Awards.
Incidentally, there was going to be a movie made about Spade
Cooley, played by Dennis Quaid, called "Shame On You". It was shelved a
few years ago after pre-production. No word as to why, but I do know
that there is someone who claims to own the "life rights" to some of the
people involved with Cooley. (I'd never heard of this before, until the
man contacted me). This may had been a factor in the movie not being
finished. Hopefully this is not a problem with production in the Bob
If the movie idea doesn't pan out, at least consider making
Bob's bio into a documentary. Either way, the story needs to be told.
There are some great ideas posted in this discussion as to
the technical aspects and possible actors & musicians, beyond anything I
Best of luck with this!
-Sharon Marie (Carolina Cotton's daughter)
June 18, 2014
Also, Iím sure someone may have told you
of this already, but I noticed that
Boyd Magersí Western
Clippings is advertising an uncut version of "Sunset in Eldorado",
and I wondered if you knew about it.
June 24, 2014
In regards to the suggestion of a movie
about Bob, I only have this to say. Knowing Bob as well as I did, I can
tell you he would not have been open to the idea. Maybe a documentary,
(something I would like to see done) but not a motion picture with
Hollywood's thought prints on it. Maybe shortly after he retired, but
not at this late date. I have to agree with the other "nay-sayers" for
the same reasons.
July 2, 2014
Regarding Bob Nolan as subject for a film,
here is a modern example of what might be done:
Clint Eastwood's new music movie about the
Four Seasons, "Jersey
Boys," just hitting the theaters. Couple of reviews I've seen are
good. I haven't seen it yet, maybe Saturday, but go see what Clint does
with an up-from-nothing band story.
July 3, 2014
Since virtually every
entertainer, entertainment group, story is an up-from-the-bottom tale
and every songwriter bio is about the hardworking creators who finally
break through thanks to a gimmicky tune or an apt melody for a film
factory produced musical it seems there are already scores of plots that
can be bent to telling the story of Bob Nolan and the Sons of the
Pioneers. You just have to pick one.
You can think deeper and realize the need here is for a
'hook', something that will grab the future audience and make them want
to see the film. Where is the hook? Is it in Bob's song writing, his
personal attitude, his experiences with other members of the group or in
the general environment in which his, and the group's talents meshed
with others and then grew? Was it their luck to be in Los Angeles with
the radio stations and film studios who had a need for musical talent?
What turned the trick? What series of events made it all possible when
without one of those links it never would have happened?
The hook should be a good one, and not just PR hype since
people wise up fast to that kind of thing.It is really necessary to find
a hook, to expand and explain through dramatic means the full story with
a proper third act. If not you can forget the dramatic, musical, bio
flick and be happy if someone can produce something valid for American
August 7, 2014
A movie about Bob
Nolan? Definitely NO! He would never agree to such and those of us who
have had the privilege of spending some time with him understand that.
You, Ken Griffis, and others have written about him and very well
covered his life and works. That's enough.
Very few of us remain
who fully appreciate his talents as a poet and songwriter - and the
market for a "movie" is not there. Perhaps a documentary on DVD with
film clips of the original Sons of the Pioneers and his music in the
background of commentary by the very few remaining who knew him
could be acceptable.
Ray Kraft might have
the right intention but he has the wrong idea. I've talked with other
Reinsmen about this and we, who spent a couple of weekends with Nolan at
Bob Wagoner's home in Bishop, CA, agree with what I've written here.
Let us respect and
honor him by listening to his music and poetry and that is what he would
wish were he here to express his thoughts.
August 23, 2014
contribution on Bob Nolan is OK. My old history teacher side weighed
in. I always loved to compare people and events to put them in
perspective w/ the kids. But I didn't have the privilege of knowing the
great man. Just hope my angle is viable and appropriate.
I was recently in LA and appeared at the Coffee Gallery
Backstage. Mr. Bob Stane, the venerable proprietor, was captivated w/ my
show. That was praise from on high. WMA folks were out in force, as were
some high school classmates of mine. Really fun.
Bob Stane ran the famous Ice House years ago. Steve Martin
got a big push there, as did George Carlin and a host of others. In the
70's, I worked there w/ Lily Tomlin (what a sweetheart). The date of my
show at the Coffee Gallery was the fateful day of Robin Williams' death.
Bob knew him well and had employed the late comedian; we talked about
addiction, depression and things that are barely understood by the
public. Sad day. Obviously, I avoided any mention of Robin onstage that
Larry B. Wilder
August 24, 2014 (courtesy Fred and
The Sons of the Pioneers in Kanab, Utah.
October 8, 2014
Glenn is going to be inducted into the Western Music Hall of
Fame. The family wants to thank you for all your hard work on his
behalf. I know for a fact that Bobs website brought him the
recognition he deserves. They used it for info!!! Thank you so much.
Will take pics and send you some.