Gary U.S. Bonds was a very popular rock-and-roll singer in the early 60's and had a revival of his career some twenty years later with the assistance of a latter-day rock star.
He was born Gary Anderson in Jacksonville, Florida in 1939 and moved at a young age to Norfolk, Virginia, where he sang in the Church choir. In high school Gary joined a group called the Turks and eventually he came to the attention of Norfolk record shop owner Frank Guida. Guida owned the fledgling Legrand Records and arranged a session for Gary Anderson to record a song called New Orleans. But first, the singer's name was changed to Gary U. S. Bonds, a name that was inspired by a poster in a Norfolk shop urging Americans to "Buy U. S. Bonds." The shop was Codd's Deli on Princess Anne Road.
New Orleans became a smash hit record, reaching the top ten in the Fall of 1960. As a singer, Gary U. S. Bonds had a good, strong voice and Guida would intentionally record his songs to sound somewhat raunchy; the combination resulted in hit songs for both producer and singer. Local Norfolk group the Church Street Five had combined with a musician known as Daddy G to produce a song they called A Night With Daddy G. When Bonds recorded his version of it, backed by the Church Street Five and Daddy G, it was re-titled Quarter To Three. The rousing, frenetic recording became a huge hit and topped the charts in the Summer of 1961. Although it has been said that the group was unaware that the song was being recorded at the time they performed it, Bonds himself has said that this is not true and that he was fully aware that the tape was running as they were singing.
Bonds followed with three more top ten hits within a year: School Is Out, Dear Lady Twist, and Twist, Twist Senora. His career headed into a twenty-year decline, although he did write Friend Don't Take Her, a song that was recorded by country-western artist Johnny Paycheck in 1972.
In the early 80's, rock superstar/Gary U. S. Bonds-fan Bruce Springsteen began to use Quarter To Three as his encore when he performed in live concerts. Together with rocker Miami Steve Van Zandt, Springsteen helped to revive Bonds' career. Bonds was given some good material and good musicians with whom to work, and began recording songs and making live performances again. One of the songs he brought back at this time was Ritchie Valens' Come On Let's Go. In the early 80's Bonds once again put a couple of songs in the top forty.
Gary U. S. Bonds continues to this day to be a good rock-and-roll singer.
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