Gary U. S. Bond: An American Icon
By Marina Anderson
For being one of America’s much loved music icons, you’d think this guy would have “attitude.” Nah-uh. GARY U.S. BONDS is one down-to-earth Grammy nominated legend. He prefers to wear T-shirts than dress up in a suit and is a true family man, having been married to the same woman for 50 years. In fact, talk about a tight family, both wife and daughter (Big Mama and Little Mama) join him in concert as his backup singers.
Beginning his career in the ‘60’s with hits such as “Quarter To Three,” “Jole Blon,” "School Is Out," "This Little Girl" and “New Orleans,” Gary recently celebrated his 74th Birthday and the official worldwide launch of his autobiography "BY U.S. BONDS, That's My Story" (written by Gary U.S. Bonds with Stephen Cooper), forward by Steven Van Zandt. This also marked the debut of his single, "That's My Story."
You’d think at his age, he’d be slowing down and taking it easy, but his life is anything but. Best described as a “live wire,” Gary continues to perform various two-hour concerts around the country on land and sea. That’s right. He did the Malt Shop Memories Cruise this month.
A survivor in the biz, he is as vibrant now as he was when he first started out. Gary is one of the few musicians who has spanned decades of not only working consistently, but crossing music appeal demographics from standard rock'n'roll to country to rock hits via his collaboration with Springsteen. It was Springsteen, by the way, who sought Gary out to collaborate, which gave Gary a resurgence to his career and a new generation of music fans.
"This Little Girl," reached #11 on the pop chart and #5 on the mainstream rock chart, was the comeback hit in 1981 from the album Dedication, followed by On the Line. Both were collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and the E-Street Band. Twenty years later, Bonds released Back in 20, featuring Springsteen and recently Christmas Is On!
Gary has such wonderful, rich stories recounted in his memoir. Among the many revealing stories, he includes memories of traveling with B.B. King and Sam Cooke, his first big break with Dick Clark, music hits "New Orleans" and "Quarter to Three," his humorous outing with Muhammad Ali, and the "comeback" album with Springsteen. There’s also more than 80 rare photos (Gary with friends Muhammad Ali, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Van Zandt, Ben E. King, Steve Winwood, Chubby Checker, Spencer Davis and more).
Hundreds of fans turned out for his standing-room only east coast book launch and birthday celebration gala held at BB King’s NY June 5. Attendees and participants included: Legendary Chubby Checker, music icons such as Dee Dee Sharp, Gene “Daddy” Barge, Jerry Blavat and special guest Evander Holyfield. west coast launch at the iconic Book Soup, West Hollywood, California attendees included: TV host and composer, Alan Thicke (also father of world singing sensation Robin Thicke), Kari Clark (widow of legendary Dick Clark, who gave Bonds his first big break), music performers Billy Vera and Phil Margo (The Tokens “Lion Sleeps Tonight”).
For more information about Gary U.S. Bond, visit his website