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Jerry Sooter on Rudy Sooter

I represent the Rudy Sooter family. Rudy Sooter worked in Western Music, Radio and the Movie Industry along with Bob Nolan. Rudy even wrote a song in tribute to your Bob called the "STORYBOOK COWBOY". Jan Sooter, Rudy's daughter and I are working on updating Rudy's Bio and in pursuit of any and all information we can gather.

Rudy's life comes from very humble poor beginnings. He is the oldest of his 8 siblings and his family was not only poor but they had a father who was not a very nice man, father or husband. Rudy arrived in Hollywood at age 19, that would be 1923. He was born on June 17, 1904 in Canada and passed away June 9th, 1991 in Reno Nevada.  By the time Bob, Tim and Leonard arrived in Hollywood Rudy had been around for a while but was not that much older the boys when they hit town.

 

Bob spent a lot of time in the early days at Rudy's home in Hollywood along with Tim Spencer and Leonard Slye due to the fact that those were very hard times and finding paying jobs was not easy.  The Texas Outlaws did not pay anything to the band members when they played live shows on radio but they could pick up a little bit of cash at dance gigs   they picked up from the radio shows broadcast. But it was not enough to really live on.


Bob, Tim and Leonard met Rudy Sooter early on in the beginning of trying to get started to break into Hollywood. Rudy Sooter heard them and liked their vocals and yodeling harmonies but they needed help with playing their instruments. Rudy took them under his wing and they began to play in Rudy's group "The Californians".  Rudy worked with them on their playing skills of guitar and Bass fiddle to improve their sound and public performance. The development of the Pioneers name did not come before working with the Texas Outlaws but rather after they had worked with the Texas Outlaws for quite some time. 
 

Due to the difficulty in finding jobs and making any money on a regular basis, Rudy used his connections to help them get started. Rudy Sooter was working in radio and in B Western Movies on a very regular basis and had become a go to musician and band leader for B Western movie projects. Through Rudy Sooter's job connections with radio shows, movie band gigs and dances, jobs could be made as well as bit parts in the movies.  Rudy Sooter was one of those guys everyone knew behind the scenes and Rudy also knew everybody you needed to know to get jobs. He could make things happen. The Texas Outlaws group did regular radio shows every week for no pay but they could pick up other paying jobs from doing those shows like paying dance jobs.
 

Now after a while Bob left the entertainment business and got a good paying job at a country club. Tim Spencer had also left and got a good paying job at Safeway Markets. Leonard Slye talked Tim in to coming back to the entertainment world and both Leonard Slye and Tim Spencer wanted Bob to come back into the business with them and give it one more try. They believed they should give entertainment one more try before throwing in the towel; but only if Bob would come back and help. Tim and Leonard asked Rudy Sooter to come along and help them convince Bob to return but Bob would not have any part of it. Bob liked his paying job, eating regularly and having a roof over his head.  A week later someone left the Texas Outlaws so Rudy Sooter, Tim Spencer and Leonard Slye went back to talk to Bob.  This time the deal breaker for Bob was the promise of regular meals to eat and a roof over his head.  Rudy spoke up and said, "I own a three bedroom home in Hollywood and my wife and I eat pretty good so you can come stay with us until work picks up and you all can afford a place on your own." With that the boys started packing Bob's stuff up and headed to Rudy's house.
 

They played in a number of venues with a number of different groups including "The Californians" but they continued to play with the Texas Outlaws to get more paying gigs. The boy hustled all the time for paying jobs to make ends meet. Finally they got tired of working in The Texas Outlaws and wanted to start their own group so they went to Rudy Sooter's home and asked him to help them start their own group. That night they came away from Rudy's home with their new group name, "The Pioneers".  They later changed it up to "The Pioneers Trio" and then a Radio Show MC changed it again by calling them the "Sons of the Pioneers" when he introduced them for the show.  This upset the boys very much and after the show they confronted the MC about it and he said they were too young to be Pioneers. The new name stuck and the rest is history.

 

Jack LeFevre and His Texas Outlaws

Left to right: Rudy Sooter, Curley Hogg, Tim Spencer, Bob Nolan, Len Slye, Half Pint and Jack.
(The Calin Coburn Collections 2004)

 

I'll tell you short story that took place after Bob, Tim Spencer, Karr Farr, Hugh Farr, Pat Brady and Roy Rogers by this time had become well known. Everybody was in some hotel attending a big event and Rudy's wife saw Roy Rogers walking in the same direction as she was but directly in front of her. She called out to Roy by his real name, Leonard, and said, "Hello Leonard. Do you remember me?" Roy spun around and hurried back to her and gave her a great big hug and then whispered in her ear, "If I ever act like I don't know you, Dora, you have my permission to Kick me."

 

The information above is 4 years of research and reading everything we could find by everyone including talking to many people who knew Rudy and the Pioneers.  Many times the stories conflicted in timelines but when we took the chronological information and connected the dots in the stories the above outline came into being. We are in the ongoing process of looking through Rudy Sooter's history and talking with family who are living. Rudy has two little sisters who remember many things about their Hollywood brother and the stories he shared with them. As I collect more information I'll be sharing it with you in the future. We are doing the research to help my family understand who Rudy was and what he did in life. Much of Rudy's work is all in the background and no one either knew or ever heard about his many efforts to help others get a start.  This has always been the way it is in this industry. A lot of wonderful people work very hard behind the scenes and no one ever learns about them or what they did that made things come together.

 


L-to-R are 'Curly' Hoag (Jack Hogg), Smiley Burnette and Rudy Sooter.

(The Old Corral)