Gary US Bonds: Quarter to Three (1961)

 |   |  2 min read

Gary US Bonds: Quarter to Three (1961)

In the DVD doco accompanying the box set version of The Promise -- the songs recorded while waiting to start a new album after Born to Run -- Bruce Springsteen talks about how he was a product of Top 40 radio, those great three minute songs which set you free just for that moment in time.

And E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt later says that Springsteen could have been one of the great pop writers, the evidence being all those songs he wrote which were framed by Ben E. King/Spanish Harlem, the Brill Building, Phil Spector's hit singles for the Crystals and Ronettes, and soul music.

Gary "US" Bonds was one of those Springsteen heard on Top 40 radio, notably his Quarter to Three which was his huge hit. In 1963 Bonds headlined a tour in Britian which had the Beatles further down the bill, but -- as with Helen Shapiro and others who also topped them on early tours -- the Beatles were to be Bonds' undoing.

Radio pop of the Gary kind changed when young men with guitars arived.

Springsteen however never forgot him and in concert he would cover Bonds' songs . . . and his own material like Sherry Darling (and any number of songs on the Tracks box set) are shaved from the Quarter to Three sound.

In the late Seventies Springsteen tracked down Bonds to a roadhouse on the New Jersey turnpike where he was playing and set wheels in motion to get Bonds a record del. Springsten signed on as producer and gave Bonds some of his own songs, and Gary US Bonds had a hit with This Little Girl (see clip below), and a hit alum with Dedication which had the E Street Band in for the sessions . . . and another Springsteen favourite, Ben E King on the exceptional Springsteen-penned Your Love.

Also in the backing vocals was songwriter Ellie Greenwich who wrote (or co-wrote) such hits as Da Doo Ron Ron, Be My Baby, Then He Kissed Me, River Deep Mountain High, Leader of the Pack and . . . . well, you can look her up.

51Iv_EHGM2L._SL500_AA300_What this meant for Gary US Bonds -- at 42 -- was a late career revival and although the Springsteen-Van Zandt produced follow-up On the Line didn't quite get the traction it should have (more songs by Springsteen, the E Street Band in again) it further answered a question that had briefly troubled him.

Apparently when Bonds was in that New Jersey turnpike lounge knocking out what he called his "Holiday Inn act" he was aware of a whisper going through the crowd as someone entered the room.

He was told who it was. 

But he was forced to ask, "Who the hell is Bruce Springsteen?"

Question answered. 

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

Relic - Nov 29, 2010

This sound has never truly gone away for some of us, I caught a snippet of Paul Weller’s ‘Waking up the Nation’ on radio and one song sounded a hell of a lot like Willy De Ville, Le Chat Bleu era.

Relic - Mar 28, 2013

Bonds to this day has mantained a strong voice unlike Southside, who squandered his, and is part of the Jersey gang still issuing “top down and club style” records.

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

? and the Mysterians: Can't Get Enough of You Baby (1967)

? and the Mysterians: Can't Get Enough of You Baby (1967)

It's a common enough sentiment, but in the fast-changing world of pop "If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?" just doesn't work. That idea would have kept the Beatles singing... > Read more

Lesley Gore: You Don't Own Me (1963)

Lesley Gore: You Don't Own Me (1963)

For someone who was only semi-professional, tiny Lesley Gore (5' 2") was astonishingly busy in the Sixties: Between '63 and '69 she released 29 singles (19 of them went Top 100) and eight... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Jamie McDell, Crystal Palace, Auckland.  May 16, 2015

Jamie McDell, Crystal Palace, Auckland. May 16, 2015

In the many decades before television, people would dress up and go to the movies, and so there were cinemas in most small towns, and in the suburbs of major cities. In Auckland up until the... > Read more

Stockholm, Sweden: Full moon party with a wind-chill factor

Stockholm, Sweden: Full moon party with a wind-chill factor

Just before 7.30pm at Koh Phangan the kitsch fairy lights wound around the trees and handrails of the bungalows start to flicker. Suddenly there is an enormous clap of thunder overhead, a... > Read more