Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers received honours and awards during their entire careers. The awards on this page were received for the years in which Bob was with the group. The current group is still receiving them. Some awards were genuine tributes to their talent. Others, as we see in the first newspaper clippings, were for publicity. Many, as Lloyd Perryman told Laurence Zwisohn, were simply a way to get the Sons of the Pioneers to entertain for nothing -
I remember speaking with Lloyd Perryman about the awards the Pioneers received", he said. "I was writing something about the group and wanted to mention their various awards. Lloyd Perryman smiled and said that during the group’s busiest years there were very few awards. He told me about a call he’d received from an organization in Arizona that had selected the Pioneers to receive their annual award and asked them to attend the presentation. Lloyd checked his schedule and saw the Pioneers had an engagement elsewhere in the country at that date. The caller asked, 'So you can’t make the awards presentation?' 'No,' responded Lloyd, 'I’m afraid we can’t.' There was a brief pause and then the caller asked if Lloyd thought Rex Allen would like to receive that year’s award!
Bob kept the awards he considered to be sincere recognition of his talent, either alone or as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers. Sadly, many of these tributes were awarded to him posthumously. His grandson keeps them in a place of honour in his own home.
1935 newspaper clipping: "Throng Stirred by Hillbilly Contest. Ladies and gentlemen, may we present the champion hillbilly band in the United States. They are the Sons of the Pioneers – or the Gold Star Rangers, if you prefer – composed of, left to right, HUGH FARR, LEN SLYE, CARL [sic] FARR, VERN "TIM" SPENCER, the leader, and BOB NOLAN. The group won first prize in the National Hillbilly Championship last night at the Olympic Auditorium. They are shown as they appeared at a recent Citizen-News employees party, where the band was featured. – Hollywood Citizen-News photo.
1936 newspaper clipping showing the Sons of the Pioneers with Vice-President John Nance Garner at the Texas Centennial Exposition. Left to right: Bob, Hugh, Tim, Vice-President Garner, Len and Tim's brother and manager at that time, Leo Spencer.
CLIPPING READS: "Vice-President Garner flatly refused to pose for "gag" pictures at the Texas Centennial Exposition. Rangerettes, fishing in the world's fair lagoon, and a dozen other stunts were spurned but – well, cowboys are different and so he put on his ten-gallon hat for the photographer."
“The Nashville Songwriters Association International Hall of Fame - BOB NOLAN - Nineteen hundred seventy-one."
(Calin Coburn Collections)
1971 Wrangler Award letter
The 1971 Wrangler Award trophy presented to Bob Nolan.
The brass plaque reads:
WESTERN HERITAGE WRANGLER AWARD
NATIONAL COWBOY HALL OF FAME AND WESTERN HERITAGE CENTER
THE SONS OF THE PIONEERS
38 years of Outstanding Western Entertainment
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Western Heritage Awards began in 1960. The museum was then known as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. The museum believed that the stories of the West needed to be preserved and the Awards continue to honor winners in 15 categories of literature, film, television and music. In 1971, Joel McCrea and Walter Brennan bestowed the award on the Sons of the Pioneers, past and present.
The trophy itself, the bronze statuette given to Bob Nolan is based on a bronze by Charles M. Russell called "The Horse Wrangler", sculpted by Russell in 1925. The actual Wrangler sculpture was done by Oklahoma sculptor, Richard Muno.
The BMI award reads: "To Tim Spencer, Bob Nolan and ‘Sons of the Pioneers’ in recognition of 40 years of Outstanding Contribution to Country and Western Music – Broadcast Music, Inc. – April 21, 1972. (signed) Edward M. Cramer, President." Received at the 40th Anniversary Reunion of the Sons of the Pioneers at the Ambassador Hotel.
1972 BMI Special Citation
"Special Citation of Achievement presented by BROADCAST MUSIC, INC to Bob Nolan in recognition of the great national popularity as measured by over one million broadcast performances attained by Cool Water [signed] Edward M. Cramer, President – Theodora Zavin, Vice President.
1972 Pioneer Award
The International Academy of Country and Western Music presents The Pioneer Award to BOB NOLAN. As one of the original members of the Sons of the Pioneers and the subsequent leader of that most famous Country and Western singing group, Bob Nolan was a major force in the development of the clear, concise harmonies that were loved by so many Pop and Country Fans in the thirties and forties, and which harmony structures were drawn upon, once again during the great resurgence of Folk Music in the early sixties. To one of the great Pioneers in the development of the Country style harmonies which are timeless in their purity of sound, and endless in the joy they bring to the ears of music fans around the world, The Academy is extremely proud to present the Pioneer Award for 1971 to Bob Nolan. March 13, 1972.
1976 Gene Autry presenting the Sons of the Pioneers with the “Gene Autry Award” at the Hollywood Walk of Fame celebration. Left to right: Dale Warren, Rusty Richards, Lloyd Perryman, Gene Autry, Billy Liebert, Roy Lanham, on behalf of past and present members of The Sons of the Pioneers.
The Sons of the Pioneers' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, courtesy of Karl E. Farr
Karl and Pat Farr standing behind the Sons of the Pioneers' star.
1976 Walk of Fame Awards show. Left to right, Bob Nolan, Hugh Farr, Ray Whitley, Roy Rogers, Lloyd Perryman, Billy Liebert (behind), Dale Warren, Roy Lanham and Shug Fisher.
1976 Walk of Fame show with past and current Sons of the Pioneers singing "Tumbling Tumbleweeds". Left to right: Hugh Farr with Bob Nolan immediately behind him, Ray Whitley, Roy Rogers, Rusty Richards, Lloyd Perryman, Billy Liebert and Dale Warren.
1976 Walk of Fame letter from KLAC's Bill Ward.
1977 William F. Cody Award
Left to right: Western film fan, Clinton Brown, with Bob Nolan who has his 1979 National Film Award under his arm.
Close-up of Bob's 1979 National Film Award.
1979 National Film Award - The Twentieth Century gave civilization its greatest art form. The Film has visibly aided in changing the course of modern History. Thus, acting in proxy for millions of filmgoers, past and present, the National Film Society pays particular tribute to specific individuals who have measurably contributed to the development of the Motion Picture. In this regard, we are privileged to present Mr. Bob Nolan with the 1979 National Western Film Heritage Award in rightful tribute to the lifetime of work and devotion this individual has given in contributing to the heritage of the American motion picture. Done in Hollywood, California, this 27th day of May, 1979 and in the presence of this Society's Membership. (signed) Randolph L. Neil, president and Frank A. Hoffman, for the Board of Trustees.
1980 Country Music Association Award
1984 New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame Award
1986 Grammy Award newspaper clipping
Clipping from the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Wednesday, February 26, 1986 which reads:
The Winners – 28th Annual Grammy Awards – Grammy Hall of Fame Songs:
“A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” by Chick Webb and his Orchestra, featuring Ella Fitzgerald.
“Bach: Goldberg Variations for Harpsichord,” by Wanda Landowska.
“Blue Suede Shoes,” by Carl Perkins.
“Cool Water" ,” by the Sons of the Pioneers.
“Tea for Two,” by Art Tatum.
1986 Grammy Award
A close-up of Bob's Grammy Award reads: “National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences HALL OF FAME. Be it known that Cool Water Sons of the Pioneers Decca, 1941, has been elected to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Honoring Recordings of Lasting Qualitative or Historical Significance in the year 1986 and that Bob Nolan (Sons of the Pioneers) has been awarded this Certificate as participant thereof.”
In 1993, Bob Nolan was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, Ian Tyson narrated a brief biography of "a Canadian country music legend...the western poet, Bob Nolan". Bob's famous "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" was performed by Coda the West and "Cool Water" by Gary Fjellgaard, Joe Feeney, and The Johner Brothers. (Audio track courtesy of Fred Sopher)
In 1994, the Western Music Association, of which Roberta Nolan Mileusnich (Bob's daughter) was a founding member, inducted Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer posthumously into its Hall of Fame. Ken Griffis presented the awards to Bobbie and Tim's wife, Velma. The following four photos are here courtesy of Stan Corliss.
The photo of the plaque itself is from Calin Coburn.
1994 Western Music Association Hall of Fame Award
The WMA Hall of Fame award reads: “Western Music Association dedicated to the Enhancement of Western Music – Hall of Fame – Presented to BOB NOLAN In Recognition of Your Contributions to Western Music As a Songwriter November 12, 1994.”
2005 CSHF Award for Tumbling Tumbleweeds
"The board of directors of the CANADIAN SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME is pleased and honoured to hereby induct the song Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Written and Composed by Bob Nolan, 1934, on Tuesday, February 8, 2005. Sponsored by Allan Slaight, Executive Chairman, Standard Broadcasting Corporation Lt. (signed) Peter Steinmetz, Chairman and Sylvia Tyson, President."
2005 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Award - the Trophy
February 8, 2005. In their second year, Bob Nolan was inducted into The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as a composer. "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" were inducted separately. "The purpose of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is to raise the awareness of Canadians and others regarding the richness of our musical heritage and to celebrate excellence in the art of Canadian songwriting by honouring those writers and songs which have had a profound influence on our lives and cultural identity as well as those individuals who have contributed significantly to the preservation and / or development of his legacy." The trophy itself is a limited edition replica of "Northern Island", a sculpture by Canadian, Elizabeth Wyn Wood (1903 – 1966).
Bob Nolan's grandson, Calin Coburn, unable to attend the ceremony himself, sent Elizabeth Drake McDonald to Toronto to accept the three awards on behalf of his family.
2005 CSHF Award for Cool Water
"The board of directors of the CANADIAN SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME is pleased and honoured to hereby induct the song, Cool Water, Written and Composed by Bob Nolan, 1936, on Tuesday, February 8, 2005. Sponsored by Allan Slaight, Executive Chairman, Standard Broadcasting Corporation Lt. (signed) Peter Steinmetz, Chairman and Sylvia Tyson, President."
• Listen to the award being presented and hear Ian Tyson backed by Sylvia and Quartette.
Calin Coburn Photo
On October 19, 2012 Bob Nolan was inducted into the new Manitoba Country Music Association Hall of Fame. (More)
In May 2013 Bob Nolan was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association's Hall of Fame.