His father, country music performer Merle Travis, plays the role of soldier Sal Anderson, and, in one memorable scene sings and plays Re-Enlistment Blues on his D-28 Martin guitar.
"My father did a lot of movies, but he almost always was the guitar player around a campfire," Bresh said in a telephone interview from Scottsdale, Ariz. "He finally got a chance to read for this director (Fred Zinnemann) who said, 'How would you like to be in a war movie? You'll be in the barracks with a guitar.' So it was the same thing, but not around a campfire."
Bresh is an excellent guitarist and singer himself who will perform as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry on July 3. His duets and performances with his then-girlfriend Lane Brody were popular in the 1980s and '90s. He and Brody opened for the Bellamy Brothers in Bell Auditorium in 1993.
At that time, Bresh talked about Travis and his stepfather, Bud Bresh, a Hollywood film studio photographer and musician.
"I had a dad and a father," he said. "Merle was a very, very close member of our family always, but the man who raised me from a little kid and who whipped my butt if I didn't practice my guitar was Bud Bresh. That's why I use the name Bresh. They both get equal billing in my life."
Several Nashville artists close to Travis, including Chet Atkins and Grandpa Jones, knew that Travis was Thom Bresh's father. Bresh, however, promised both of his fathers that he would not talk about that relationship publicly until after both had died.
Travis, who was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977, died in 1983. Bud Bresh died in 1987.
Thom Bresh ended up with most of Travis' great guitars, including the one that Travis used to write the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit Sixteen Tons and the Johnny Cash classic Dark as a Dungeon .
Bresh constantly was around celebrities growing up.
"My dad did a lot of work at Corriganville, which was one of the most photographed movie ranches," Bresh recalled. "I was around Clint Walker (Cheyenne ) and Richard Boone (Have Gun, Will Travel ) and watched Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne film a scene for the movie How the West Was Won .
"I went to school with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' kids. My friends had our clubhouse in this man-made cave on the ranch. We had to get our stuff out when they needed to film for The Lone Ranger TV series."
Bresh lived in Nashville for 27 years until moving recently to Scottsdale. He lives in a $2.2 million home owned by people who live mainly in Canada, where they have music stores.
"I'm more a West Coast boy anyway," Bresh said. "And with the Internet, you can still build a worldwide audience and a fan base. All you need is a well-equipped studio, and I'm setting one up in Scottsdale I'm calling The Bresh Pit.
"I see the major record companies in Nashville as dinosaurs on the way out.
"That's bittersweet because of all the music they have brought us, but they've also screwed almost every artist they've had. They're not making music anymore in Nashville. They're making new, improved Tide."