|It's been four years since the world and the western music community lost a wonderful family member and western music icon.
In Loving Memory"
Trail Boss 55½ Years
"Legendary Sons of the Pioneers"
June 1, 1925 - August 9, 2008
Dale Henry Warren left this earth for his last roundup Saturday evenin' August 9, 2008 in Branson, MO. He will be dearly missed by many fans all around the world.
Buffalo Jim and I were lucky enough to have had the pleasure of gettin' to know Dale better in the early 2000s. We've had a few lengthy conversations with him in person, and had a few conversations via the telephone that we'll treasure forever. We've visited their "Sons of the Pioneers Show", located in the Pravillion at Shepherd of the Hills in Branson, MO many times.
Dale was a lifetime member of the Western Music Association (WMA) and on the WMA Advisory Board.
Dale, you are now focalizin' and singin' with the original Sons and the other group members that have gone on to Glory before you. May You Rest In Everlasting Peace. Happy Trails Dear Friend!!
"The Legendary Sons of the Pioneers"
"Cyclone", Leonard Slye, "Uncle Joe", Tim Spencer, Bill Nichols - 1933.
Here's their story and how they've
evolved through the many years.
You'll learn why this group became
America's #1 western group of all time.
|The Sons of the Pioneers was started by none other than our western hero, Leonard Slye (Roy Rogers). Roy started out with his cousin Stanley bein' on an anmateur program at radio station KMCS in Inglewood, CA in 1931.
Stanley and Roy - 1931
A few days later, Roy got a phone call from Ebb Bowen wantin' him to join his group, "The Rocky Mountaineers". In early radio, it was an innovative move to have a featured soloist.
Roy felt uncomfortable singin' alone and asked if they would add another singer to make a duet. An ad was placed in the Los Angeles Examiner.
There were several applicants that didn't suit the bill. Finally, an unlikely candidate appeared with shoes in hand, indicatin' he was a lifeguard at Venice Beach. The young man's name was Robert Nolan, originally from Canada.
Within days, Roy felt their music would benefit more as a trio. Nolan suggested a beach bum frend, Bill Nichols. Nolan and Nichols had harmonized as they chased the girls. Nichols had a excellent voice and he was a fine fiddle player as well. It wasn't long 'til they knew the trio had somethin'.
Top: Leonard Slye, George Gammon, Bob Nolan.
The Rocky Mountaineers
Bottom: Bill "Slumber" Nichols, Emest Lane, William Davis - 1932.
After nearly a year of hard work and hardly any pay, Nolan decided to quit the group.
An ad was placed and a young, entergetic Tim Spencer applied for the vacancy and was hired.
Rogers, Nichols and Spencer managed to keep the group together 'til mid 1933.
Top: Unidentified, Tim Spencer, Leonard Slye, Bill Nichols, Unidentified.
Bottom: Bernie Nawahi - 1933.
They didn'y stay long with "International Cowboys".
O Bar O Cowboys
Travelin' through the Southwest as the "O Bar-O Cowboys", it ended in disaster. The trio treked back to Los Angeles and disbanded, in August, 1933.
Roy Rogers never gave up! He wanted to give it one more try. He talked himself into the group, "Jack and his Texas Outlaws", then performin' on KFWB in Hollywood, CA. He felt if he could talk Tim and Bob gettin' back together, they could join "The Texas Outlaws". They weren't the greatest, but it'd get them back on the radio. Roy contacted Tim Spencer and he was eagerly to join in. They worked on Bob Nolan and finally convinced him that if they were all members of the group, they'd make it this time!
The Texas Outlaws
Rudy Sooter, Curley Hogg, Tim Spencer, Bob Nolan, Leonard Slye, "Half Pint", Jack LeFavre - 1933.
Decidin' that only dedication and hard work would prove the difference between bein' good and great, the trio started preparin' themselves for the challenge that lay ahead. Beginnin' early each mornin' the fellows would start their vocal exercises and only end when one voice or the other gave out.
Other groups sang in harmony, but none with the tone control, blend, feelin' and precision of the new trio. The time spent with the Rocky Mountaineers served them well. They had started their trio yodelin' then, and soon developed it to a degreee never before heard.
Tim Spencer, Bob Nolan and Leonard Slye - 1933.
'Round the middle of October. Roy, Tim and Bob felt it was their time to make their move. Usin' their affiliation with The Texas Outlaws, and now callin' themselves "The Pioneer Trio", they wrangled their way onto the Outlaws' radio show.
Their impressive arrangement of the song, "The Last Roundup," was mentioned in Bernie Mukkigan's column for the Los Angeles Examiner. The resultin' publicity from this created a huge stir and the management had to provide the fellows with their own program.
Crowds were multiplyin' at their personal appearances and fan mail was bein' received in ever increasin' quanities.The Pioneer Trio was on it's way!
The trio soon realilzed that the group needed instumental backup. With workin' on their show on KFWB, makin' personal appearences, etc., it was too much on their voices. They picked the best fiddler there was, Hugh Farr. He had a touch and feel that complimented the trio; plus he had a nice baritone voice.
Harry Hall introduced them as the "Sons of the Pioneers" by mistake durin' a performance. When asked, Hall explained they looked way too young to be pioneers; instead, they looked more like the sons of pioneers. The first verified appearence of the name "Sons of the Pioneers" was noted as bein' March 3, 1934.
It was in mid-1934 when the group was approached by Decca Record Company to record some of their music. Only Stuart Hamlin and Bing Crosby came before them on Decca's West Coast recordin' sessions. What a couple of pros to follow! No money was really made from the recordin's but the publiciy and exposure proved to be benificial. The first recordin' session had Rogers, Spencer, Nolan and Hugh Farr. Four compositions encluded was "Way Our There," Moonlight On the Prarie," Ridin' Home," and "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds," (what you're listenin' to now on this page).
Shortly after the Decca recordin', program director, Gerald King at KFWB signed them to record for his new transcript company, Standard Radio. The first Standard series, 102 tunes (sixteen 12" discs), was recorded by the trio of Rogers, Spencer and Nolan, accompanied by Hugh Farr. King transferred the recordin' of his Standard transcriptsions from Radio Recorders to the studios of RCA in 1935, while Art Rush had already assumed responsibility for settin' up RCA's transcription library. Little did Art Rush realize at the time, he'd later be associated with Roy Rogers for nearly fifty years as his personal manager.
Sons of the Pioneers
Top: Tim Spencer
Middle: Hugh Farr, Karl Farr, Bob Nolan,
Bottom: Leonard Slye. Mid - 1935
Karl Farr was added to the group when the second session series of transcripts was in mind. The quintet recorded the second and third series.
The "Sons of the Pioneers" had agreed to twenty percent of the sales of the transcripts to radio stations. They were given the impression that they weren't doin' well and they settled for $600.00 each, while King recovered his investment many times over.
The addition of Karl Farr was of immeasurable value. His guitar playin' style was the stimulus for Hugh's fiddlin'. He was admired by other musicans of that time period. Karl completed the group that is referred to as the ORIGINAL"Son of the Pioneers"
Liberty Pictures offered the "Son of the Pioneers" their first movie role in August 1935, when they appeared in "Old Homestead". They made appearances in "Slightly Static," and ""Way Up Thar". They also appeared in "Gallant Defender" and "The Mysterious Avanger", the first of many movies with Charles Starett. Gene Autry borrowed Nolan's music for his movie, "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."
The Pioneers was picked by Paramont Pictures to appear in a Bing Crosby production of "Rhythm On the Range" in early 1936. July of the same year, they were asked to participate in the Special Events portion of the Texas Centennial in Dallas, TX. They appeared as musical backup for Gene Autry's "The Big Show".
Shortly after returnin' from Dallas, Tim Spencer took leave from the group. There had been an upset concernin' his brother Leo, who had been the director of activities for the group. A short-term replacment was Wesley Tuttle. He was workin' with other groups also. Roy and Bob contacted Lloyd Perryman as they needd a permanent replacement. Lloyd brought to the group a clear, strong tenor voice, somethin' that had been missin' in the group. It was September of 1936 when Lloyd Perryman officially became a member.
Ray Whitley became their manager, as Paramount wanted them for more movies with Charles Starett. Harry Cohn was the man in charge at Paramount to deal with. At first, he offered a ridiculous deal. Whitley finally got him to offer a better one and the Sons of the Pioneers signed a contract.
In early 1937, the Pioneers had appeared at KFOX in Long Beach, KRLD in Los Angeles, at KFWB as the Gold Star Rangers, and KMTR, in Hollywood 'fore settlin' down on KHJ in Los Angeles.
In mid-1937 word was out that Gene Autry and Republic Studios were in a contract dispute. Roy heard of the studio lookin' for a new singin' cowboy, so he went and auditioned for Sol Siegel and was signed to contract October 13, 1937.
The Pioneers needed a replacement for Roy, and they got a fellow named Robert Ellsworth O'Brady (Pat Brady) on October 16, 1937.
It just wouldn't do after many trials and errors for weeks for Pat, and they brought back Tim Spencer just in time for the movie, ""Spoiler of the Plains".
Top: Tim Spencer, Karl Farr, Pat Brady.
Sons of the Pioneers
Bottom: Bob Nolan, Lloyd Perryman, and Hugh Farr.
Meanwhile, Brady was brought back and in 1939, the group started a new syndicated radio show, Sunshine Ranch, originally aired over KNX and the Mutual Broadcasting System.
It is difficult for the most avid Pioneer fans to fully appreicate the incredible talents of Nolan and Spencer. Many of the Nolan-Spencer tunes were fine production numbers fillin' the need for the films in which they were in. They also enhanced the the field of western music in general.
(Headletter for the "Tumbleweed Topics" monthly publication).
In 1940, the Pioneers became so popular that they started "Prarie Prattles," a publication to keep their fans informed of their activites. It went from one page to ten, and they changed the name to Tumbleweed Topics." Each Pioneer wrote a column as did Roy Rogers. It was a well written publication, but it ceased at the onset of World War II.
They were in Chicago for nearly a year, on the "Uncle Ezra" program. While there, they made arrangements for nearly two hundred songs on transcriptions. It was released as Symphonies of the Sage", the label readin', *Produced by Roy Rogers Inc.*
Lonesome for sunny California, they returned home in September 1941. They signed with Camel Cigarettes for their Camel Caravan. Several weeks they went to military bases entertainin' the GI's, along the west coast. While in Seattle, they joined their pal Roy Rogers in filmin' "Red River Valley" on October 23, 1941.
Due to the war-time restrictions, they were limited in their cross-country appearances. In January 1943, the Pioneers were on the bill with such entertainers as the Mc Kinney Sisters, Evelyn and Dean. Dean later married Tiny Moore, aho apeared with Bob Wills and Mere Haggard. The group knew with the outbreak of World War II, it was only time 'fore some could be called to serve their country. First to go was Perryman. Then Pat Brady to the Army.
Findin' a replacement for Perryman would be a difficult challenge. A strong voice would be great, as the Pioneers had developed a strong sound.
Ken Carson was signed to replace Perryman. He was familiar with the Pioneers' music and it was a thrill for him to become a member of an elite group. Carson officially joined in June 1943.
Top: Bob Nolan, Hugh Farr, Tim Spencer, Karl Farr, Shug Fisher
Sons of the Pioneers
Bottom:Ken Carson - 1944.
Pat's replacement was funny man Shug Fisher in early 1944, but was not confirmed. He had appeared on Radio WLW, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The new trio was of Spencer, Nolan and Carson, with Shug and the Farr Brothers completin' the war-time, Sons of the Pioneers. Durin' the war the Armed Forces Radio Services, under their *Basic Material Library* series featured many Pioneers recordin's. On these programs called, "Melody Roundup", personalities such as Hopalong Cassidy, Chill Wills and Richard Dix would host a fifteen miute program, playin' Pioneer recordin's and dedicatin' them to servicemen who wrote in.
This page is in progress. Please keep checkin' back for more to be added.
May the Good Lord take alikin' to ya!
Happy Trails Forever,
~ Buffalo Gal ~