Gary "U.S." Bonds - lead vocals; Jeff Hermannson - trumpet; Mark Leimbach - guitar, vocals; Hal Selzer - bass; Joey Stann - saxophone; Lance Stark - drums; Jim Wacker - keyboards, vocals; Laurie Anderson - backing vocals; Nora Perrin - backing vocals
Throughout the late 1970s, it was not unusual for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to end one of their marathon three-hour-plus performances with a blistering encore of the 1960 Gary U.S. Bonds hit "Quarter To Three." For many Springsteen fans who were too young to have had experienced the music of the late '50s and early '60s, this exciting song bore as much impact as one of the Boss's own originals. Fast forward to 1981, when Springsteen was working on material for his follow up to The River. Through some mutual friends, Springsteen, his guitarist/friend Stevie Van Zandt (Little Steven) and Gary U.S. Bonds are writing and recording material for a new EMI long player that would ultimately be deemed a "comeback" album for the celebrated R&B vocalist.
"Bruce, Steven and I are still friends," said Bonds during an interview conducted in 1997, around the time of his induction into the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. "That was a great time for us to get together. We had just decided on one song in the beginning. He had written a song called, 'Dedication,' that he said sounded so much like 'Quarter To Three' he wanted to record it with me. And we went in just to do the one side and maybe a flip side, and that was it, but we were having so much fun doing it man, he said, 'I think I got some more songs!' So we just started writing and within two or three weeks, man, we had done a whole album, you know! Day after day, after day, after day."
Bonds was born Gary Anderson, and after moving to the Norfolk, VA area as a teenager, quickly graduated from church choirs to street corner doo-wop groups. He was discovered by an aspiring music promoter named Frank Guida, who signed the young vocalist to an indie label he owned. He also took over his management. Guida presented Anderson with a song he had co-written named "New Orleans." They went in the studio and cut it with the best R&B studio musicians available there at the time, and within weeks it was a hit. When Guida handed Anderson the 45 rpm record, he noticed it did not have his name on it. It was credited to U.S. Bonds.
"My ex-manager titled me with that in 1959, I believe," says Bonds. "He used to have a delicatessen next to the studio we recorded at, and this guy had all these U.S. bonds, banners and flags hanging in there. The guy was real patriotic. I was upset at first, especially since the original billing was just 'U.S. Bonds.' We added 'Gary' to the name with the next record. I got over it. It ended up working out OK for me." Guida actually titled the first record "U.S. Bonds," thinking DJs would play it with the notion that it was a public service announcement for savings bonds. In the end, it was not necessary; they played it because it rocked.
This show, taped by the producers of the King Biscuit Flower Hour for release on the KB label, was captured at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ in 2000. It features mostly material from the records made with Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven, but also a healthy sample of Bonds' original compositions, including hits that charted nearly 50 years ago, such as "New Orleans" and, of course, "Quarter To Three." But far from being a mere musical time capsule, this show reveals a unique, inspired performer doing what he does - and always did - best: play high quality rock 'n' roll with gusto and conviction.