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“Gary U.S. Bonds – New Orleans (stereo)” on YouTube

14 May
“Gary U.S. Bonds – New Orleans (stereo)” on YouTube

Gary U.S. Bonds (born Gary Levone Anderson, June 6, 1939, in Jacksonville, Florida)[1] is an American rhythm and blues and rock and roll singer, known for his classic hits “New Orleans” and “Quarter to Three”. His career spans several decades and he is also a prolific songwriter.

Career

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Bonds lived in Norfolk, Virginia, in the 1950s when he began singing publicly in church and with a group called the Turks.[1] He joined record producer Frank Guida’s small Legrand Records label where Guida chose Anderson’s stage name, U.S. Bonds, in hopes that it would be confused with a public service announcement advertising the sale of government bonds and thereby garner more radio airplay.[2] His first three singles and first album, Dance ‘Til Quarter to Three, were released under the U.S. Bonds name, but people assumed it was the name of a group. To avoid confusion, subsequent releases, including his second album Twist Up Calypso, were made under the name Gary (U.S.) Bonds. The parentheses were discarded in the 1970s.[3][4]

Bonds’ first hit was the song “New Orleans” (US No.6)[citation needed], which was followed by “Not Me”, a flop for Bonds but later a hit for the Orlons, and then by his only number one hit, “Quarter to Three” in June 1961. “Quarter To Three” sold one million records, earning a gold disc.[1] Subsequent hits, under his modified name, included “School Is Out” (#5), “Dear Lady Twist” (#9), “School Is In” (#28) and “Twist, Twist, Señora” (#10) in the early 1960s. In a 1963 tour of Europe, he headlined above the Beatles. His hits featured solos by the saxophonist Gene Barge.[3]

“Quarter to Three” appears on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.[5]

In the early 1980s, Bonds had a career resurgence with two albums Dedication and On the Line, collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt, and the E Street Band, and had hits including “This Little Girl” (his comeback hit in 1981, which reached #11 on the pop chart in Billboard and #5 on the mainstream rock chart), “Jolé Blon” and “Out of Work”.[3] Bonds continues to release albums sporadically, and today is a mainstay of the nostalgia concert circuit.[citation needed]

While Bonds is mostly known for achievements within rhythm and blues and rock and roll, he often transcends these genres, e.g., his song “She’s All I Got”, co-written by Jerry Williams, Jr. (better known as Swamp Dogg), was nominated for the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” in 1972 when it was a big hit for Johnny Paycheck (Freddie North also charted his only pop hit with a soul cover of the same song). He is also a 1997 honoree of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. Bonds is an accomplished golfer and often plays celebrity PGA Tour events.[3] Bonds guested in Blues Brothers 2000 in 1998 as part of a rival blues supergroup the Louisiana Gator Boys.

Bonds released an album in 2004 called Back in 20, the title referencing his repeated sporadic pop-ups of popularity (his first hits were in the 1960s, then again in the 1980s, and now another significant album in the early 2000s, each 20-odd years apart). The album features guest appearances by Springsteen and Southside Johnny.[3] Bonds was also inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

In 2009 he released a new album Let Them Talk and toured the UK as a special guest of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.[6] Most recently, in 2010, Bonds contributed duet vocals on the song “Umbrella in My Drink” on Southside Johnny’s album Pills and Ammo.[7] He also made a guest appearance in the 3rd series of Lillyhammer which stars and is produced by Steven van Zandt.

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