Back in the days when Roy Rogers was Leonard Slye, he entered a radio show singing contest and, a few days later, received an offer to join a group called The Rocky Mountaineers. That was in the Spring of 1931. By that Fall, Slye was the head of the group and needed a yodeler/tenor for the act. A young Canadian named Bob Nolan answered the ad and Slye hired him on the spot. Nolan did not stay with the Rocky Mountaineers for long and was replaced by Tim Spencer. Old-time music acts tended to shift personnel rapidly. By the spring of 1932, Slye, Spencer, and another member left the Mountaineers to form their own trio, which sank without a trace. Slye and Spencer, together or singly, joined a number of short-lived acts, with Slye eventually joining a popular radio act, Jack LeFevre and his Texas Outlaws.
In early 1933, Slye, Nolan, and Spencer formed The Pioneer Trio. The next year, fiddle player and bass singer Hugo Farr was added to the group, now called The Pioneers. One radio announcer, saying that they were too young to be pioneers, began calling the group The Sons of the Pioneers. The name stuck.
In 1935, the group was signed by Columbia Picture to sing on its Charles Starrett western films. Two years later Slye received an acting offer from Republic Pictures. Slye left The Sons of the Pioneers and was rechristened Roy Rogers. Columbia;'s Starrett western group was disbanded in 1941 and The Sons of the Pioneers moved over to Republic to join Roy Rogers.
The sons of the Pioneers are still going strong. Over the years, there have been 43 official members of the group including Pat Brady (whom Roy Rogers tagged to replace him when he left the group and who ended up being Roy's television sidekick), Ken curtis (Gunsmoke's Festus, and the vocalist who filled the void between Frank Sinatra's and Dick Haymes' stints with the Tommy Dorsey Band), and Shug Fisher (the singer-songwriter-actor-comedian who replaced Pat Brady when Brady was drafted in World War II; Fisher later was to have recurring roles on television's Ripcord, Gunsmoke, and The Beverly Hillbillies). Current members of The Sons of the Pioneers are Tommy Naille, Ken Lattimore, Randy Rudd, Mark Abbott, and Justin Branum.
Here's a baker's dozen of their songs. Smooth, easy listening. Enjoy.
Cool Clear Water
Ghost Riders in the Sky
Dwelling in Beulah Land
When It's Springtime in the Rockies
Red River Valley
O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
Blue Shadows on the Trail
Along the Santa Fe Trail