(songwriter and member of the Son of the Pioneers from 1963-1984)
"Bob gave us songs worth singing, about a world worth singing about."
I know that I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Bob, as well as to the other members of the Sons of the Pioneers. The group was forming the year I was born and took the name "Sons of the Pioneers" the following year, 1934, as you know. Therefore, there has never been a time for me when there was not a Sons of the Pioneers. Bob's music has been as much a part of my world as grass, trees, horses, cattle, fresh air, and sunshine.
I can't honestly say I never dreamed that I'd one day become a member of the group because that's exactly what I did do, and at a very early age. I will never forget the first time I stood before a large audience having just sung the opening theme "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and in response to tremendous applause, heard Lloyd say, "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are the Sons of the Pioneers...." There was no doubt in my mind that everyone else on stage were the Sons of the Pioneers - Lloyd, Dale, Roy and Pat. But me? Well, there I was, and no one came up and said, "Get off the stage." As a matter of fact, the audience was great to me as they have been ever since.
Needless, to say, I'm proud of every member of the Sons, past and present. And I'm grateful to all of them for enriching my life with the music I love. Bob's contribution to the success of the group was enormous. Not only for writing so much of the music, but also for the winning sound he gave the group with his unique voice.
I realize more as I write this brief letter that, even if I continue to write until my letter became as thick as the phone book, I would surely not be able to describe all the ways that Bob has affected my life. But the ways would include such things as my young wife, Amy, putting a stack of Pioneer albums (given to me by Tim Spencer) on to play while our first baby, Jenny, napped or listened quietly. Either she or I continued to do this for each of our next three children, Jason, Molly and Amy Jo, as well.
Or sitting in a motel room someplace with some good friends like Dick Goodman, Joanie Hall, Hi Busse and Pete Logan, and marvelling at the great lyrics and beautiful melodies that Bob wrote as we tried our best to sound like the Pioneers.
Or looking at a Robert Wagoner painting and feeling a love of nature and the West that Bob's music did so much to inspire.
Or, driving down a highway somewhere in Canada in Roy Lanhams' bus as he rode shotgun, Pat Brady cooked some lunch on the stove and Lloyd Perryman and Dale Warren patiently taught me my part to "A Summer Night's Rain".
Or, way back back before I joined the Pioneers, going to see the Dodgers play the Mets with Ken Curtis and, as people passed all around us, Ken stood with one hand on my shoulder and the other on Amy's and sang so only we could hear, "The Mystery of His Way". What a way to hear the song for the first time! It was marvellous!
The list of memories and friends goes on and on. There's no way of placing a value on these things as they are priceless. How do you put a price on the great feeling I've had so many times, as Roy Rogers said, "These guys are more like brothers to me," as he introduced us.
Yes, I have a lot to be grateful for and a great deal of the gratitude I owe to Bob Nolan. I know my debt to him will never be fully paid but perhaps I can begin by pledging to do my part in seeing to it that, as Dale [Warren] has said so many times since Bob's passing, "His songs will live forever."
He gave us songs worth singing, about a world worth singing about. (Pioneer News No. 10-13, Page 3)
Bob Wagoner, as many of you know,
is one of the great western artists in our whole country. He likes to go up in
the Sierras and look for inspiration in the beauty of the Sierras but he takes
with him music from the Sons of the Pioneers, plays the music and looks for
inspiration for the paintings. He went up there one time and he came up with a
gorgeous painting. It’s a cowboy leading a packhorse and he’s down in the bottom
of the canyon and the light coming down through the Sierras behind and it’s
called “Following the Stream” from “I Follow the Stream”. Well, I couldn’t
resist that painting, told Amy about it. We got her up there and she looked at
it and it was, uh, it hangs on our wall at home.
Left: Bob Nolan, Bill Bowen and Rusty Richards with a Robert Wagoner painting titled "Following the Stream" after Nolan's song, "I Follow the Stream". Rusty and his wife, Amy, have the painting.
Right: Bob introduces "Three Friends Have I" to Rusty.
September 30, 2006
Richards Memorial Voice
The song you are listening to is "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" featuring Rusty Richards and the American Cowboys:
I was digging through some old rehearsal tapes from 1986 featuring Rusty Richards, Bob Wagoner, and me and came across these two songs. This was a trio we put together especially for an annual Western film festival being held in Ogden, Utah back in the '80s. Rusty had been appearing there previously conducting seminars on the songs that were used in Roy's movies. His seminars were so well received that he asked Bob and me to join him at the 1986 event with some three-part harmony. (Dick Goodman)
The Western Way, Fall, 2015, pp 14-15
2 Rusty Richards Albums Available:
01. Middle Hand Road
02. Molly Darlin'
04. Scarlet Ribbons
05. Quarrels (are a Sad, Sad Thing)
06. The Riddle Song (I Gave My Love a Cherry)
07. The Rovin' Gambler
08. Cry of the Wild Goose
09. The Convict and the Rose
10. The Letter Edged in Black
11. China Nights (Shina No Yuro)
12. Red River Valley
13. Don't Let Me Down
14. Diamond in the Rough
15. St. Louis Blues
01. Ghost of Serrano Ridge
02. Fence Rider
03. Wild Wolves
04. Yellow Jacket
05. Texas Girl
07. Early Mornin' Trails
08. Casey Tibbs (South Dakota Cowboy)
09. Crazy One
10. The Last Cowboy
Another album Rusty hasn't released yet:
01. Jim's Marker
02. Take Me Home, Lord
03. I Long to go Back to Wyoming
04. I Love America
05. Night Hawk
06. Take a Last Look at the Clown
07. It's Never Too Late to be a Cowboy
09. Back when the Longhorn was King
10. White Water River
11. Gettin' High on Life
12. Old Pioneers
(To find out more about these albums, write Rusty at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Casey Tibbs: Born to
Ride by Rusty Richards
(The following ad courtesy of
Rusty & Amy Richards)