The Sons Of The Pioneers 85th Anniversary Tour
The Sons of the Pioneers are synonymous with the ultimate in Cowboy music. For decades the premier western singing group has musically painted unforgettable images and stories of horses, cattle, cowboys, “night herds”, tall timber, cool water, canyons and prairies. Their original songs like “Tumbling Tumbleweeds”, “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” are classics forever entwined into the lore and mystique of the American West. Both “Tumbleweeds” and “Cool Water” have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
First started by Roy Rogers and the gifted songwriters Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer, the group garnered national and international fans through appearances in almost 100 western films during the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Numerous albums were recorded under contracts with Decca, Columbia, RCA and others. The group provided songs for several John Ford westerns including the soundtrack for “The Searchers” starring John Wayne. When television came along they regularly appeared on the Roy Rogers Show and had guest appearances on such programs as the Barbara Mandrell Show. Walt Disney called upon the Pioneers to supply the soundtrack for the film “Pecos Bill”. They were the first cowboy musical group to perform at Carnegie Hall and the first to headline in Las Vegas casinos. Roy Rogers Jr. ( Dusty ) said, “I am pleased to finally be a member of the band that my Dad founded in 1934. What an honor and pleasure it is for me to be able to join this talented group in order to continue the legacy.”
The current group’s configuration is part of a continuous and uninterrupted 85 year existence in which they have accumulated more coveted honors and awards than any band in Western music. The group has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, among others. The Smithsonian Institute named them as “National Treasures”.
The Pioneers are known around the world for their unique three and four part harmonies. According to their “trail boss”, Tommy Nallie who joined the group in the 1980's, “We are honored to be returning to Canada. We were parade marshalls for the Calgary Stampede in the 1990's.” Nallie said, “Every concert is pure Cowboy music packed with our timeless hits, solid western swing and a good measure of comedy and banter. Each of the six members share the vocals and instrumentals.” Part of the hallmark sound comes from acoustic fiddles, mandolin, upright bass, and lead and rhythm guitars.
Tommy Nallie … is “Trail Boss” of the group, a place held by only three individuals before him. As Trail Boss, Tommy is the curator of the famous “Pioneer sound,” guaranteeing that every audience will experience the harmonies and music that has made the Sons Of The Pioneers world famous. Tommy hails from Beaumont, Texas, where he grew up in a musical family and held the honor of first chair violin in high school. Later he played in local bands with his brother Luther, then served a tour of duty in the US Navy. Upon returning to Texas, Tommy picked up right where he left off by touring the nation as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. When not on the road, he played back-up in the recording studio. In May of 1983, Tommy got the call asking him to join the Sons Of The Pioneers. He says, “It’s difficult to put into words how greatly honored I was to become a part of such a rich and impressive musical tradition.” In time, Tommy learned every part to all of the Pioneers’ repertoire, now teaching those to new members. He currently plays guitar, yodels, sings harmony, and steps up to sing a few vocal solos.
Ken Lattimore … is one of the formal musical scholars of the group, holding a degree in music from Texas Tech University. He is acknowledged as one of the best tenors in Western music, and delights audiences with his fiddle solos and duets. Ken originally became a fan of Western music by listening to his parents' albums. Before joining the Pioneers, Ken had experience in a variety of musical genres ranging from singing lead tenor in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, to performing in Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, to a country music festival in Austria, to performing in symphony orchestras. After college, he taught band and orchestra in his hometown of Marshall, Texas. He enjoys a special interest in American History as his family has roots dating back to the American Colonies. Since he got the call in 1997, Ken has been singing tenor in the trio. Ken says, “Singing and playing violin with the greatest Western singing group ever proves the old adage … at times your fondest dream can come true.”
Dusty Rogers … People often comment how difficult it must be for Roy “Dusty” Rogers, Jr. to stand onstage in his father’s shadow. Dusty quickly responds: “As Roy’s son, it is not my job to stand in my father’s shadow; but it is my job to lengthen it, and that is what I try to do onstage every day.” Having hung around his Dad and former members of the Pioneers, Dusty is welleducated as to the various components that make the Pioneers so popular. In 1982, Dusty launched his own successful career singing in concert halls throughout the US and Canada, and in 2004, he had the esteemed honor of performing onstage at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Dusty is both thrilled, honored, and humbled to be a part of the trio that has captivated audiences with their distinctive sound. Dusty lends his rich, upper baritone vocals, singing lead and harmony. He also provides a little yodeling and acts as MC, sometimes sharing stories of growing up with his famous parents and seven siblings.
John Fullerton … has a family background in the horse and cattle business. He was introduced to the Pioneers at a concert in Branson, Missouri, at the age of seven by his grandmother, who also bought him his first album, “Cool Water.” Right then and there, John decided to make Western music his life’s career. He has followed the group and their legacy ever since. Fascinated by each and every song, John started learning all the vocal and instrument parts, and knows the different arrangements to every song according to how it was recorded from one album to the next. He has collected a wealth of memorabilia and is very well-versed in Sons Of The Pioneers history. John has been performing professionally since 1994. He sings baritone, knows all the harmony parts, and holds down the rhythm guitar in the group. Joining the Pioneers is a dream come true, and he says, “I’ve spent my entire life preparing for this opportunity to join the Pioneers.” Paul Elliott … grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a home filled with jazz, classical, and folk music. He started playing violin when he was seven years of age. His initial love of old-time and bluegrass quickly evolved into a love of Western swing, jazz, and old country music. At the age of nineteen, he began playing professionally in bands and as a studio musician in the western USA and Canada. Paul has racked up a long list of recording credits spanning film, radio, and a long list of CDs. He holds a degree in music composition from University of Washington with additional months of private study in London with the head of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Paul’s mastery of original Pioneer fiddler, Hugh Farr’s, style on a recording project caught the attention of Trail Boss, Tommy Nallie, who sought him out to join the group. Paul said, “I’m both honored and thrilled to be following in the footsteps of Hugh Farr as the fiddle player for Sons Of The Pioneers, one of the most significant bands ever in the music of the American west.”
Chuck Ervin … born in Memphis and reared in Mississippi, Chuck fell in love with Western and classic country music as his family sang together on their front porch. He has been performing professionally since the age of fourteen. Working first as a guitarist, mandolinist, and vocalist, he relocated to the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1980s and began intensive jazz bass studies. Soon he was recording and performing, often concurrently, in swing, jazz, blues, country, and folk. Chuck has worked with scores of musicians, including steel-guitar legend Bobby Black, and continues to perform with his wife, Sylvia Harold, an accomplished guitarist and vocalist. Always eager to spread the joy of music, Chuck has taught at music camps along the West Coast and has been the resident bass instructor at the venerable Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. “It’s an immense honor to be a part of this amazing musical legacy that is the Sons Of The Pioneers,” says Chuck.