If what you do is timeless, it never gets old. After 50 years onstage, Gary U.S. Bonds still performs two-hour concerts that end in standing ovations. One of the all-time great singers, there has never been any accurate account of his life, until now. The new book titled, “By U.S. Bonds – That’s My Story,” (written by Gary U.S. Bonds with Stephen Cooper), is more update than memoir. It follows Bond’s life through the early days of Rock and R&B and continues to 2012 where we find the legend onstage with Bruce Springsteen. The book weaves together music history while providing some fascinating insights into the singer’s music and life, putting the reader smack in the middle of the action.
Bonds calls his book “a small story about rock ‘n’ roll.” He chronicles how he went from singing with the “Turks” (a group he formed) to stardom highlighted by his collaborations with Bruce Springsteen and current status as legendary performer.
The foreword by his friend Steven Van Zandt (guitarist for The E-Street Band) gives readers the perfect overview. Van Zandt outlines how the “British Invasion” had stalled the careers of great talents like Bonds. For Bonds, overcoming challenges early and often throughout his career served him well going from “oldie to newbie” more times than he’d like to recall.
From the book, it’s obvious that Bonds is not just a survivor, but always and forever an acute observer of his music and the times. More than anything else, Bonds speaks of his love to perform, a true musical warrior who adores his audience and knows his place onstage. He relates a story in which a young Sam Cooke implores him to “let people know how you feel.” He talks about the urgency that is rock music and his thoughts on helping create the “Norfolk Sound.” Bonds believes that when the going gets tough, it’s best to make music. The stage acted as a refuge for him many times.
Page after page of the book is filled with meaningful memories. Traveling with B.B. King. Bond’s first big break on the Dick Clark Show. How he got his unusual name. His mega-hits “New Orleans” and “Quarter to Three.” The real “Garden Party” story, and what happened with Rick Nelson. Successfully crossing into the country music arena when his hit “Don’t Take Her” was nominated for the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year.” His Grammy nomination (Rock Male Vocalist, 1982) for Dedication. Bond’s humorous outing with Muhammad Ali and the incredible recordings/performances with Springsteen and the E-Street Band.
Along the way, some heartfelt admissions — Bond’s incredible love for his wife “Big Mama” and his daughter, “Little Mama.” Why he prefers performing live more than recording. How he feels about singing his hits night after night on tour.
The book teaches life lessons about perseverance and the strength derived from friends and family.
The book is a great read about a man propelled by an endless desire to please. Rock ‘n’ Roll is what Bonds does. The book proves that Bonds is and always will be a mainstay of Rock.
“With a long and illustrious career spanning decades, Gary U.S. Bonds, one of the most underrated greats of R&B, gives a personal account of the good, the bad and the music.” – Steve Winwood
“A master interpreter and truly one of the greatest singers of all time.” – Steven Van Zandt
“I was looking for a special guest to tour the UK with my band… To say that Gary was a success is an understatement… It was a great tour and we all loved him.” – Bill Wyman
“Now I know about Gary. His complete (and I mean COMPLETE) biographic confessional is an amazing collection about a special, talented man. After playing his music on my shows, and appearing at events with this ball of energy – I thought that I knew him. Here’s an honest and colorful display of living an ever-changing active life. Reads like a reality show- Loved it!” – Cousin Bruce Morrow, Sirius XM Satellite Radio
Purchase via Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com