I never knew Bob personally. In fact I was born seven years after he died. But when I was just a little fellow about seven or eight years old I saw my first Roy Rogers movie. In the ensuing years my family collected all of his movies.
The more I watched them the more I liked the well built, handsome leader of the Sons of the Pioneers with such an enchantingly unique voice. His captivating personality seemed to come right through the screen. He was very good in a variety of roles, too.
He could play a rather comical sidekick (Bells of Rosarita) a man at odds with Roy (Sunset on the Desert, Man From Cheyenne) and even managed to land a girl (Peggy Stewart in Utah) but most often was Roy's stalwart second.
I watched and listened to all of them perform over and over and over. Then I began building a Sons of the Pioneers music repertoire. Few things gave me greater delight than to open up a present and find a one of their CDs enclosed. Listening to their music I would never cease to be amazed at the beauty, versatility, originality, and depth of Bob's songwriting techniques and musical ability. I have never tired of listening to them. As I got older and taught myself the guitar I would play and sing along with them which provided me hours of enjoyment.
It is interesting to note that he not only wrote and sang (and not always the same part either) he played the rhythm guitar and bass (just how good he was can be judged by listening to I'm An Old Cowhand).
The Pioneers and Bob in particular are responsible in a large way for my love of music, and I say this because I had basically no interest in it before becoming acquainted with them. I have never, and I have searched very thoroughly, found any other group that can compare with them vocally or instrumentally. I don't think there ever was one or that there ever will be another group like them.
It is very sad today that Bob's music isn't listened to and sought after more. In this age when inharmonious noise is the thing and true music, for the most part, has been thrown out the window one cannot but wish for the old days when the Sons of the Pioneers were one of America's most popular musical groups. Why can't we have wholesome themes to our music like an awe of God, an immense appreciation for His creation, and a love of freedom experienced by the cowboy? This is what Bob Nolan loved and wrote about.
He truly was a man with God-given talent for what he loved: music, and he has left us an unforgettable legacy. I trust that one day interest will be rekindled in the works of this great musician and his music will come back into the spotlight. Am I hoping for too much?