Nolan [Nobles], Bob (Clarence Robert )
- Travis D. Stimeling
(b Winnipeg, MB, April 13, 1908; d Newport Beach, CA, June 16, 1980). American cowboy singer, songwriter, and actor. Renowned for his ability to evoke the desert and woodland landscapes of western North America in both lyrics and music, Nolan was arguably the most influential western songwriter of his generation. As a child he moved frequently, living in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Boston, and Tucson. As a high school student in Tucson, he read the poetry of Shelley, Byron, and Keats and began writing his own poetry about the Arizona desert. After graduating from high school, he moved to Santa Monica, California, in 1929, where he worked as a lifeguard and began setting his poetry to music. In 1931 he joined Leonard Slye (later Roy Rogers) in the Rocky Mountaineers, and in 1933 they joined tenor Tim Spencer to form the Pioneer Trio (later the Sons of the pioneers ). The Sons of the Pioneers frequently recorded Nolan’s compositions, including such hits as “Cool Water,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and “Chant of the Wanderer.” Nolan retired from the group in 1949, although he sporadically recorded with them until 1957 and occasionally appeared on their Lucky “U” Ranch program in 1951 and 1952. After 1957 Nolan retired from the industry, writing poetry and songs for his own enjoyment and fishing at Big Bear Lake, California. He briefly came out of retirement in 1979 to record a solo album with producer Snuff Garrett.
- K. Griffis: “The Bob Nolan Story,” JEMF Quarterly, vol. 16 (Summer 1980), 63–65
- D.B. Green: Singing in the Saddle: the History of the Singing Cowboy (Nashville, 2002), 73–83