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Gary U.S. Bonds

In the early '60s the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required radio stations to air public service announcements. These were non-commercial in nature and covered topics pertaining to the general welfare. Figuring that DJ's were not the sharpest tools in the shed, Legrand Records owner and producer, Frank Guida, thought he'd re-christen his new singer Gary "U.S." Bonds in hopes that his records would be confused with public service announcements promoting government bonds and thereby gain additional airplay. No one knows whether Guida's little scam actually worked but Bonds did get a lot of airplay, though it was obviously due to his talent rather than any deception.

The future Gary "U.S." Bonds started life with the name Gary Anderson (born 6/6/39) in Jacksonville, FL. In the '50s Bonds was living in Norfolk, VA, singing, like so many others, in church and with a group named The Turks. Bonds special talent was seamlessly blending R&B and Rock N' Roll.

Typical of pop and Rock performers of the era, Bonds' run was relatively brief. "Quarter To Three," released in '61, was his only #1. Before that he had a hit with "New Orleans" (peaking at #6 on the pop chart) and followed his chart topper with "School Is Out" (#5). He cashed in on The Twist craze with "Dear Lady Twist" (#9) and "Twist, Twist, Senora" (#10). He even went back to the well releasing the derivative "School Is In" (barely breaking the Top 30). In '63, Bonds toured Europe and crossed paths with The Beatles. But in the U.S. he was done.

That might have been it for the Bonds story if not for a special fan. Growing up in Asbury Park, NJ, Bruce Springsteen heard Bonds' on the radio and was sold. Later, Springsteen incorporated "Quarter To Three" into his live shows where it became a staple. In the early '80s, Springsteen and the E Street Band helped Bonds get off the oldies circuit and back on to the charts. Of the songs released during this period, the boisterously cocky "This Little Girl" (written by Springsteen) peaked at #11. Another song, "Out Of Work" just missed the Top 20.

Gary U.S. Bonds Discography

Here's the problem. "The Very Best Of Gary "U.S." Bonds" has his '60s hits and a bunch of filler. That would be OK if the '80s comeback material was also included - but it isn't. Bonds' '81 album "Dedication," containing "This Little Girl," is good but it really isn't the man's legacy. The follow-up, "On The Line" is OK. Often these two albums are packaged together. Download "Quarter To Three" and "This Little Girl" and call it good. If there's a desire for more, just keep going after the hits.

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