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Laurence Zwisohn


Lawrence Zwisohn is known worldwide for the superb liner notes he wrote for Bear Family's boxed sets of Sons of the Pioneers recordings. He is quoted widely as an accurate source of information on the group. He knew the original Sons of the Pioneers personally and is a respected researcher and writer. The following quotations are excerpts from his conversations with Elizabeth Drake McDonald.



“During a conversation with Bob we got to talking about Tumbling Tumbleweeds when Bob made an idle comment that his original verse had been replaced when Sam Fox bought the song from Sunset Music. This was the first time I had heard there was an earlier verse. Bob didn’t have a copy of it and so I began a search. It took several years until I got lucky and found a copy.

“With the Sunset edition in hand I called Bob and asked if I could come over to see him (I didn’t mention anything about having found the Sunset sheet music). A few days later I went over to see Bob bringing a Xerox copy of the original sheet music as well as the original copy. When I showed it to Bob he was surprised and really pleased. For the only time while I knew him, Bob went to another room and came back with a guitar. He sat down, strummed the guitar and sang his original verse. At one point he hit a bad chord, looked at the sheet music, played the same bad chord a second time, smiled and said, ‘They've made a mistake here.’ He finished singing the verse, looked at me and said he still didn’t know why they had changed it.

“Before leaving that day I asked Bob to sign the cover of the original version. He wrote something like, ‘My God, even my own original verse. This is really an old one.’ It’s framed and hanging on my wall.” (Laurence Zwisohn to Elizabeth Drake McDonald June 29, 1999)








Quick Links to Mr. Zwisohn's Comments:

The Sad History of Tumbling Tumbleweeds

Bob Nolan 

Hugh Farr

Lloyd Perryman

Ken Carson

Ken Griffis

Sons of the Pioneers Sound

Recording Anecdotes

The Sons of the Pioneers' Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame




The publishing history of Tumbling Tumbleweeds illustrates how many songwriters have been taken advantage of by music publishers due to their lack of business expertise.

The song Tumbling Tumbleweeds began as a poem titled Tumbling Leaves which Bob Nolan wrote on an autumn day in 1932. Around that same time Bob Nolan joined a local Los Angeles area country music group called The Rocky Mountaineers where he sang duets with Roy Rogers (then known by his original name of Len Slye).

Late in 1933 the Pioneer Trio (which became the Sons of the Pioneers) was formed by Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer. A short time later they were signed as staff singers on radio station KFWB in Hollywood. By this time Bob Nolan had added music to Tumbling Leaves and the trio began singing the song on some of their radio appearances. The trio’s performances of Tumbling Leaves went over well with their audiences and they began receiving letters asking them to repeat the song. A number of these requests asked for the song about the “tumbling weeds”. Since the Pioneer Trio’s repertoire was primarily built around western songs Bob Nolan saw the logic of making a few changes to his song and turning it into Tumbling Tumbleweeds. The Pioneer Trio’s growing popularity on KFWB led to their being given a program of their own and, to no one’s surprise, they chose Tumbling Tumbleweeds as their theme song.

Sheet music sales had long been an important source of income for both songwriters and music publishers and one of the biggest outlets for sheet music sales was at the 5 & 10 cent chain stores such as Woolworth’s and Newberry’s. The owner of the sheet music concession at Newberry’s in Los Angeles who also operated Sunset Music, a small music publishing company, recognized the growing popularity of Tumbling Tumbleweeds and in May 1934 he obtained the publishing rights to the song from Bob Nolan.

Within six weeks of the time Tumbling Tumbleweeds was published by Sunset Music the company was contacted by the larger Sam Fox Music which purchased the song’s publishing rights with the knowledge and approval of Bob Nolan. Sam Fox Music quickly republished the song but their sheet music edition dropped Bob Nolan’s original opening verse and replaced it with a verse written by one of their staff writers. Apparently the publisher felt the original verse didn't have a strong enough western feel. This change was made without Bob Nolan’s knowledge or permission.

In 1946 Sam Fox Music encountered financial difficulties which led to their selling the publishing rights to the songs Tumbling Tumbleweeds and I’ll Be Seeing You (written by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal) to Williamson Music which was owned by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Before the formation of BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) in 1940 music licensing in the United States was dominated by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). ASCAP restricted its membership which resulted in few writers of western songs, jazz, blues, hillbilly and other styles of music being allowed to join the society. Although ASCAP membership was restricted ASCAP affiliated music publishers were never reluctant to obtain the rights to any song that was likely to generate sales and revenue. Although they might publish a song by a non-ASCAP member the songwriters themselves weren’t allowed to participate in all the sources of music income that were available to ASCAP members.

In 1959 Bob Nolan asked his attorney to review his finances and the status of his copyrights. This led to the discovery that for many years he had been receiving only a small portion of the income he was entitled to from Tumbling Tumbleweeds. Unable to reach a settlement with Williamson Music a lawsuit was brought against the publisher. The court case, which was upheld on appeal, ruled against Williamson Music. Bob Nolan was awarded a financial settlement going back seven years (the maximum period allowed by the law) however, his request to have the copyright returned to him was denied and the song remained with Williamson Music.

When Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) was formed in 1940 they took a broad-minded approach which welcomed all songwriters into their organization. Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer were under contract to American Music and they along with American Music were among the earliest to join BMI. As a result all of Bob Nolan’s songs were affiliated with BMI with the exception of Tumbling Tumbleweeds which remained with Williamson Music, an ASCAP affiliate that didn’t even form a BMI publishing company until sometime in the 1990s.

Although there have been many recent changes in the United States copyright law songwriters or their estates are permitted to exercise their right to get back the American publishing rights to a song at the end of the 56th year of a copyright. Bob Nolan’s widow chose to do this by forming Music of the West, a BMI affiliated publishing company. The first of Bob Nolan’s songs to come up for its 56-year renewal was Tumbling Tumbleweeds. As required by law Williamson Music was notified that Mrs. Nolan planned to exercise her right to renew the copyright. By placing the song with Music of the West, a BMI affiliate, it would finally be possible for Bob Nolan’s estate to begin receiving a greater measure of income from Tumbling Tumbleweeds.

BMI pays higher income to those songs that have received over a million performances. Bob Nolan’s song Cool Water had long since qualified as a million performance song and although Tumbling Tumbleweeds had been in an ASCAP company since 1946 there was no question it also belonged in that category. As soon as the song was transferred to Music of the West BMI qualified Tumbling Tumbleweeds as a million-performance song which further increased its earning ability.

         There is no way to estimate the amount of income Bob Nolan lost from Tumbling Tumbleweeds over the decades due to accounting practices and to the many years the song remained in an ASCAP catalog while Bob Nolan was a BMI member. (Laurence Zwisohn, October, 2002)

One day Bob called me. (Yes, he actually did call me. Not often but it happened a few times.) Anyway the phone rang, I picked up and Bob said hello. Without thinking I blurted out: "Bob Nolan. My favorite voice in the whole world." Bob got quite a laugh out of that response. I just love that man's voice. Roy Rogers’ voice was so smooth and relaxed. Bob's so distinctive and warm. Hugh Farr's voice captivates me, the deepest and mellowest bass voice I've ever heard.

From my limited contact with Bob I never saw him less than polite and thoughtful. However, he wouldn't do things he didn't want to do. If you didn't impose on him he was fine. If you started annoying him he'd have no part of it. If you tried buttering him up you'd really make him uncomfortable. Bob was a genius and that rare breed tend to act a little differently. And, frankly, that doesn't bother me as long as they don't go too far.

    Bob always looked good no matter how he was dressed. Even when it was just a T shirt there was just something unique about that mighty man.

I remember Bob mentioning Ernest Hemingway. He said he'd learned that Hemingway was having a session for writers. As I recall, the session was going to be held at a hotel. The cost to attend was $50 and Bob said he really had to dig to come up with the money. Bob said the most important thing he learned from Hemingway was to keep what you write to the point. To keep rereading what you've written and keep editing it down. Bob said he took that to heart and tried to do that with his lyrics. Seems like he succeeded. There's not a superfluous word in Bob's lyrics.

    I never asked Bob about the fire and he never mentioned it. He did say he had an arrangement with his publisher, Sylvester Cross, at American Music that he'd get a $25 advance for any song he wrote. It appears the publisher would only copyright the song if it was recorded (note the copyright date on The Mystery of His Way is 1951 which is the year Johnnie Ray recorded it.) As to where the American Music files are? Probably buried in an unknown warehouse.

I wouldn't go on record as saying Bob would only put his name on a song if he wrote most of it, more than half of it, etc. I never discussed it with him in detail but my impression is that he had to feel he contributed something "significant" to the song. That doesn't mean any particular percentage. There are probably some songs where he contributed something "significant" and didn't put his name on it. The fact is we'll never really know. Bob was a modest man and didn't want credit for anything he didn't create. On “Love Song of the Waterfall” the publishers Carl Winge and Bernard Barnes gave the song to Bob and asked him to finish it. Obviously he felt he had made a major contribution to the song and felt he deserved to have his name on it.

Columbia didn’t renew the Pioneers even though Charles Starrett wanted them to continue appearing in his films. Columbia's westerns were budget films and they felt they could save money by replacing the Pioneers. Starrett told me his films were never as good after the Pioneers left. As you know the Pioneers then went out on tour and spent considerable time in Chicago. Meanwhile Roy Rogers was lobbying Republic to bring the guys into his films. When they were finally signed the guys were delighted. It meant working with their old friend Roy and it meant staying home with their families instead of having to travel all the time.

However, it was during this time that Bob began writing fewer songs. As to not being featured as prominently in Roy’s films as he had been in Charles Starrett’s. I don’t think that bothered Bob at all. He told me that stardom was something he never considered or wanted. He often told the story about when the Pioneers were working at Columbia and the studio was planning the film “Golden Boy.” Barbara Stanwyck was set for the film but they wanted a rugged new guy as the male lead. While walking on the lot one day Bob passed two executives including the “Golden Boy” producer. "There's my Golden Boy" the producer said as he pointed to Bob. Well, that was it. Bob said he went home and didn’t return for three days. William Holden got the role and it was the start of his long and successful career.

I once met Marvin Grigsby at Bob's house. I think it had to do with raising funds for the John Edwards Memorial Foundation then located at UCLA (now at the University of North Carolina). I had once mentioned to Ken Griffis that I'd give a lot to have “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” written in Bob's hand. Ken came up with the idea of having Bob write the lyrics on parchment and selling it to the person making the largest donation to JEMF. I think Grigsby donated $1000 and got the parchment copy. I also seem to recall that Bob, who had known Grigsby for some time, gave Grigsby one of his guitars at the same time.


While the Sons of the Pioneers built their reputation around their unique sound, there can be no doubt that the key figure in the group was Bob Nolan. Ruggedly handsome and possessing a distinctive voice (Tim Spencer referred to him as 'our bubbling baritone'), Bob Nolan became the most identifiable member of the Pioneers. But Bob's most lasting impact came from the songs he wrote. Seldom has anyone been better able to describe the beauty, loneliness and adventure of the West. His songs painted images and told stories so perfectly that you could just close your eyes, listen to the Sons of the Pioneers and see those images come to life. Although Bob Nolan is best known for his western songs, he never limited himself to that metier. Let's Pretend displays the tender side of this rugged man both as a singer and a songwriter. Bob Nolan was a quiet, introspective man. It was almost as if he let his songs speak for him. (liner notes for RCA Victor Years, Vol. 1, 1989)


Bob Nolan once said that even though each Pioneer had true talent, the group as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts. (liner notes to Bear Family's Wagons West, 1993)

His fiddle playing was unsurpassed. He had the rare ability to play tastefully and creatively behind the Pioneers without ever distracting from their magnificent harmonies. All this despite the fact that Hugh had quite an ego. But his ego (like Al Jolson's) was excusable in my book since he really was the best. When it came time for him to solo he took over and really showed what he could do. I had the pleasure of meeting Hugh in 1972 and spending an evening with him and several other people. One of the things that delighted me was that Hugh's speaking voice was just as deep and mellow as his singing voice.

As to singing bass. I’ve never heard a smoother or deeper bass voice that still retained it’s mellowness. Few bass voices are mellow but Hugh’s was. Many bass voices are heavy and lumbering. J. D. Sumner of The Stamps (who backed Elvis) is credited with having the deepest bass voice in modern times. But, to my mind, it had no mellowness to it. Hugh's voice was deep, smooth and mellow. And his speaking voice was just the same.

After the Pioneers returned from the Texas Centennial Tim Spencer took his leave of the group. Lloyd had filled in from time to time when someone was ill including a six week stint when Roy was down with pneumonia. So when Tim left there was no question who they'd ask to take his place. In hindsight Tim's leaving the group briefly after returning from the Texas Centennial was a pivotal moment for the Pioneers.

Lloyd filled in for Roy during those six weeks. When the Pioneers returned from the Texas Centennial, Tim was upset that the rest of the group had fired his brother who'd been managing them. Tim quit the group and the guys asked Lloyd to take his place. When Tim returned a year later Lloyd was there to stay. Lloyd was one of the finest gentleman I've ever known and what a remarkable talent.

Lloyd told me that he'd been singing with several groups but when he heard the Pioneers he knew they were clearly the best and he began hanging around the group. Whenever a member of the trio was ill Lloyd filled in. Roy came down with pneumonia (probably early in 1936). For awhile it didn't look like he'd make it (this was before sulfa drugs were available). For six weeks Roy was sick in bed. (During this period Roy wrote “I'll Keep On Singing A Song,” a very upbeat song with a positive outlook, in essence “no matter what goes wrong I'll keep on singing song. Shows what a positive outlook on life Roy always had.)

The proliferation of awards has gutted them of any real significance. I remember speaking with Lloyd Perryman about the awards the Pioneers had received so I could mention them in something I was writing. Lloyd 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 their schedule and saw the Pioneers had an engagement elsewhere in the country on that date. "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.

When the Pioneers recorded their final album: “Western Country” for Granite Record in 1976 Lloyd Perryman made a change to the song. For years people had been asking him about the song and what was it actually saying so Lloyd wrote an opening verse:

That's a mirage you see
It's not what it seems to be
It's not...
water, water (the opening refrain of the song)

Lloyd took the verse over to Bob to see if he had any objection. According to Lloyd, Bob said something to he effect "well, that's what the song's about," though he didn't think there was any need for him to have added a verse but he didn’t object to Lloyd’s verse being used.

Lloyd Perryman was one of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. A gem of a guy. A gentleman. Humble. Down to earth. Truly a fine, fine gentleman and a wonderful friend. My impression was that Lloyd and Bob were very close sort or like a big brother and little brother relationship. I think that one of the reasons Bob was willing to walk away from the Pioneers was that he knew the group would be in Lloyd's hands and that was a comfort factor.

In the time I knew Lloyd I only had one criticism of him.....I wished he'd have been able to quit smoking. He just couldn't stop and it took his life at much too early an age. I feel that his heart attacks were brought on by his smoking and it was such a waste of a fine guy and such an enormous talent. And what a talent. The guy had it all. He could sing like an angel. His vocal arrangements were so good the group used them for decades. And he loved the Pioneers with all his heart.

The Sons of the Pioneers sang with the Stafford Sisters on a demo for a radio program and may have occasionally appeared on the same programs on KHJ radio station. Lloyd Perryman thought the world of Jo Stafford as a person and as a talent. I once pulled a joke on Lloyd and his wife Buddie. One of the Jonathan & Darlene Edwards albums was reissued during the mid 1970's. Nowhere on the album did it indicate they were actually Jo Stafford and her husband Paul Weston. I gave a copy of the LP to Lloyd and Buddie saying I thought they'd might enjoy it as well as I was enjoying my copy. A few weeks later I was back visiting with them and asked if they'd had a chance to play the album. Lloyd said they'd played the album the day after my previous visit. He said their initial reaction was "Larry likes this off key singing and he likes the Pioneers?" But the more he listened the more he could hear that the singer was just enough off key to be doing it on purpose. The same with Paul's piano playing. When I asked if he knew who they were Lloyd said the voice was familiar but he just couldn't place it. When I told him it was Jo Stafford and Paul Weston he smiled and said, "of course. It would have to be someone with perfect pitch to be able to miss the note by so little."

Lloyd was a wonder. He could sing everything from tenor to bass. And he always blended perfectly. There was a session in the mid 1950’s when they were scheduled to record two songs from the Davy Crockett TV programs. “King of the River” and “Old Betsy.” The arrangement called for Hugh Farr’s bass voice but for some reason Hugh wasn't on the session. So who sang bass...Lloyd. Now his bass voice wasn’t as good as Hugh's (no one's was) but ol’ Lloyd did a fine job. He always did a fine job. He took great pride in the Pioneers.


Ken Carson was a fine soloist. The Pioneers met him during the year they spent in Chicago. Bob liked him and loved his voice. When World War II came along and Lloyd was drafted it was Bob who thought of Ken to fill in for him. Ken told me he had some doubts about joining the Pioneers. He loved the group’s music and liked each of the guys in the group but he was doing well in Chicago and knew it was just temporary with the Pioneers. Still, the thought of being a Pioneer and working with Bob Nolan was too good to turn down. Shug Fisher was a close friend of Ken’s and had looked after him when a young Ken Carson was getting his start (I think they both worked in San Francisco for awhile). So when Shug came in (don't recall if that was before Ken joined) it really made it nice for him. I only met Shug once, but he too was a nice as could be and had a delightful sense of humor. I knew Ken the last few years of his life and you just can’t imagine what a nice guy he was. Humble. Kind words about everyone I mentioned. Just a great guy.

He was one of the finest and nicest people I’ve ever known. After his time with the Pioneers (whom he was reluctant to join) he worked on the Garry Moore radio show. The success of that show led CBS to transfer the show from Los Angeles to New York and turn it into a 5 day a week morning television show. Ken was the featured male vocalist throughout its long run. Denise Lor was the female vocalist. Howard Smith led the band. While living in New York Ken kept a busy schedule. He recorded for a number of independent labels, wrote some songs and sang on radio commercials (a very lucrative career). He also sang at private parties including singing at Tricia Nixon’s wedding.

He and his wife Gretchen lived in New Rochelle, New York a very nice suburb outside the city. When he and Gretchen retired they moved to Delray Beach, Florida. But Ken never really retired. He loved entertaining so he continued doing country clubs, private parties and related work. He lived about 30 miles from where my mother lived and thanks to Ken Griffis I as able to contact him and ask to meet him on my next trip. He was as nice as possible and we got together each time I visited my mother.

The last time I saw Ken he was quite ill but they couldn’t diagnose the illness. Finally, if I recall correctly, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and passed away not too long after the diagnosis. Ken was always in good spirits. He always had a smile on his face and in his heart. He was warm and friendly. Whenever he called me at my mother’s place he always took time to have a friendly conversation with her. The Pioneers have had some remarkably fine gentleman as members over the years. None were finer than Ken Carson.

The photo was taken the day the Pioneers got their star on Hollywood Boulevard. In addition to the then current lineup headed by Lloyd, Roy Rogers and Bob Nolan were there along with a gaunt looking Hugh Farr. Roy was being interviewed when he saw Bob arrive and he quickly (but politely) ended the interview and went over to Bob. From the smiles on their faces you can see how glad they were to see each other.

Hugh, if I recall, was living in Wyoming and drove down with two of his neighbors. As gaunt as he was I recognized him immediately. That evening there was a show honoring the Pioneers at the Hollywood Palladium. Roy sang with the group and at one point in the show Lloyd introduced Hugh as one of the original Pioneers who had come back to be a part of the evening. Frankly, I was worried. I loved Hugh’s fiddling and his marvelous bass voice and the last thing I wanted was to see this great talent embarrass himself. Hugh came center stage and put his fiddle under his chin and……..blew away the entire audience who gave him a prolonged standing ovation after his number. He was magnificent. As Hugh began to leave the stage Lloyd stopped him and said the audience wouldn’t let him leave after just one number so Hugh came back and played another tune and, once again, knocked everyone out. I couldn’t have been more proud if he was a member of my own family. I think it was the next night that Ken Griffis had Hugh over to his house and, fortunately, I was invited. Hugh played and told some stories and I just wish I had an audio or video tape of that evening. The years just rolled away for Hugh when he played. Yes, I was there when the photo was taken. One of the most memorable days of my life.

There star ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard attracted a good sized crowd since KLAC radio had promoted the event (they also underwrote the show at the Palladium). No one knew who was going to be there other than the then current Pioneer lineup although we all thought Roy Rogers might be there. The ever reticent Bob Nolan wasn’t expected to be there but Lloyd must have talked him into it. Hugh's appearance was a complete surprise.

One amusing story I heard later: Someone came up to Roy and asked Roy if he remembered him. Roy, who as always polite, said no he was afraid he didn't. The guy became indignant. Told Roy he was the pilot who flew him to some military bases during World War II when Roy was entertaining the troops. He was really ticked off that Roy didn't remember him from 30 - 35 years earlier. Too bad Roy didn't have his six guns with him that day.

Ken was on the board of the John Edwards Memorial Foundation which was housed at UCLA. I’m not sure if he was a founding member. Somehow I learned about JEMF and called their office (which was more like a broom closet) and got Ken's phone number. I called Ken and from that phone call a friendship developed. Ken was putting the finishing touches on his Sons of the Pioneers book at the time. For a number of years Ken and I were very good friends. In 1972, not too long after I first came into contact with him, a tribute to the Pioneers was being planned. It was held at the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel. Ken was kind enough to invite me to the pre-tribute cocktail party. It was there that I first met Bob Nolan.

Ken is to be admired for a number of reasons. As far as I can tell, he was the first person to write a book about a musical group. Not an individual, a group. That's a tough assignment especially when there were so few sources to turn to since, I don’t believe, any of the guys had kept any clippings, memorabilia or anything. The only exception being a scrapbook Roy kept from the first year or two after the Pioneers were formed. This didn’t deter Ken and he did enormous research to document their story. Thanks to Ken's diligence he was able to interview all of the members of the Pioneers except for Karl Farr and Pat Brady who had passed on. Ken’s book is important for a number of reasons. First, the Pioneers' story is of great importance and Ken's hard work and dogged determination allowed him to document the facts. This took enormous research on Ken’s part. Although there is a large music press today, there was no such thing during the Pioneers years. Ken was able to meet, interview and get the stories from each of the Pioneers including the very private Bob Nolan. The second reason Ken’s book is important was an unexpected one. It gave Bob, Tim, Lloyd, and the rest of the guys a greater appreciation of what they had accomplished. Believe it or not, they really weren’t aware of the importance of what they had created.

During the years JEMF was in Los Angeles it was a very well meaning organization that, nonetheless, had great difficulty in raising money. Noble objectives, excellent publication, beginnings of an important collection of country music materials but no financial support from anyone or any organization. The only reason it lasted as long as it did was because of Ken’s very active leadership in organizing fund raising benefits. Without the money he raised it would have passed from the scene much earlier.

The sound on the “Lure of the West” album is quite different from the “Tumbleweed Trail” album even though both albums were recorded at the same time. The Pioneers went in and recorded 24 tracks for two albums. 12 were chosen for “Lure of the West” with the rest on “Tumbleweed Trail.” Some of the songs from one day’s session are on one album, some on the other. Yet the sound is entirely different. I once asked Lloyd about that and here's what he recalled about it. “Cool Water” was their first stereo album and since Hugh Farr had left the group Thurl Ravenscroft was featured on the bass voice parts. Lloyd said they were used to recording in mono and not having to worry about remixes. When “Lure of the West” came out Lloyd felt that just as on the “Cool water” album Thurl’s voice was too loud. Now, in my view, no one had a better bass voice than ol’ Hugh. But Hugh's voice was a soft and mellow bass. Thurl Ravenscroft was a fine singer, the voice of Tony the Tiger in cereal commercials but his bass voice was louder and heavier. As I recall Lloyd spoke to RCA (probably Darol Rice who produced their albums) about the way the tracks had been mixed so they didn’t reflect the true Pioneer blend. As a result when they mixed the tracks for “Tumbleweed Trail,” Thurl was mixed lower and the result, in my view is a better sound. The thing that made the Pioneers so unique and so successful was their blend. It was what Roy Rogers had the guys work on endlessly until they came up with the right blend. As the years passed and personnel changed Bob and then Lloyd made sure the blend was right. Then an engineer came along and turned “Lure of the West” into Thurl Ravenscroft with vocal backgrounds by the Sons of the Pioneers.

Lloyd told a funny story about the session where they recorded “The Wind Is A Woman” and “The Little Ol’ State of Texas” with Ezio Pinza. The session took place at Republic studios which had the best recording studio in the city. The Republic studio was so good that other film studios rented time there and record companies rented it for their classical recordings. Johnny Green conducted the orchestra. When the Pioneers arrived Ezio Pinza wouldn’t even look them in the face. Apparently he felt it was beneath his dignity to record with a bunch of cowboys. The rehearsals didn't go well. Why? Pinza as singing flat. Finally, Johnny Green told Ezio to listen to the Pioneers since they were singing in the right key. So the two songs were recorded and the Pioneers left without Pinza ever acknowledging them. Pinza then recorded two more songs by himself. If there’s any doubt about Pinza’s ego just read what Lana Turner wrote in her autobiography about the film she made with him.

Like you I love the group as an entity but also the individual components. Bob Nolan’s voice was unique and I never tired of hearing him sing. Like many others I wish he had recorded more recitations. It took me longer to fully appreciate Lloyd Perryman's voice but when I did I realized how remarkable a singer he was. Ken Griffis pointed this out to me and eventually I came to see how right he was. Hugh Farr’s voice pleased me no end. The deepest, smoothest, mellowest bass voice I’ve ever heard. All the guys were so unique. I once asked Bob if he’d ever thought of what would have happened to his songs if there had never been a Sons of the Pioneers. He smiled and said he certainly had. He said, in his view, it was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Each fellow brought distinctive talents that made the group come together. I describe it as all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fitting together perfectly.

Music cue sheets for films and television programs are prepared after the fact. When the film is completely scored the music editor, who supposedly, has been keeping notes, prepares the final version of the music cue sheet. The completed cue sheet is filed with ASCAP and BMI. Any publisher who has music in the film also receives a copy of the cue sheet. Cue sheets are reasonably accurate but a sloppy music editor can make mistakes. In earlier years there was less detail on the cue sheet. As the years progressed and performance income became a significant factor in determining income for songwriters, composers and publishers cue sheets became more detailed and more accurate. When Republic sold Roy Rogers’ and Gene Autry's films to television they edited them down to a 54 minute length. They easiest thing to edit out were the songs. They also prepared new cues sheets to reflect the edited television version. Often its the TV cue sheet that pops up.