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Gary “U.S.” Bonds

In 1961, in the unlikely town of Norfolk, Virginia, Gary Anderson (who had been born in Jacksonville, Florida) recorded some of the wildest, most bizarre party records in the history of rock & roll: New Orleans, School Is Out, School Is In, Dear Lady Twist, Twist, Twist Señora, Seven Day Weekend and Quarter To Three.

Most of the records sounded like they were recorded at the bottom of a vat: The drums blubbered and boomed, wild saxes honked overhead and anonymous revellers whooped and hollered around Anderson’s lead vocals, which themselves sound seriously out of control.

Anderson had his name changed by record store owner and Legrand label boss (and former New York calypso singer) Frank Guida, who sent promotional copies of his singles to radio stations bearing the inscription “Buy U.S. Bonds” – causing a lot of program directors to play the records believing them to be public service announcements.

Gary’s hot streak lasted just two years but stuck with Legrand into the late Sixties, slogging through such material as No More Homework and Do The Bumpsy.

The oldies shows beckoned, and then the discos, and beyond that – oblivion.

Gary Anderson’s story may have ended there as another faded footnote to rock history. But one night in the late 70s while Anderson was doing what he called “my Holiday Inn act” at some grim little disco out on the Jersey Turnpike, a celebrated local suddenly showed up.

Bruce Springsteen strolled in out of the New Jersey night, jammed with Gary for an hour, and the two then sat down for a four-hour chat. The pair stayed in touch and, in 1980, Springsteen eventually suggested a new “U.S.” Bonds album.

He and the E Street Band joined forces with Gary and his own band at the Power Station and recorded Dedication (1981). He followed it up another Springsteen-produced album, On The Line (1982).

Bonds continues to release albums sporadically, and today is a mainstay of the nostalgia concert circuit.