Spotlight: Gary U.S. Bonds
1am, Cedar Street
"Come on everybody take a ride with me ..."
Those eight little words get everybody up and dancing to this day, but when they first hit the radio in 1959, the man who sang them heard them credited to someone else. Sitting on his front porch in Norfolk, Va., the former Gary Anderson thought someone had ripped him off, but it turns out his manager had changed his name without consulting him first.
"I listened and thought, 'Somebody stole my damn song. I can't believe it!'" says Bonds from his current home in Wheatley Heights, Long Island. "I started calling around, and I couldn't find anybody. It must have been a couple of hours before I could reach anybody to tell me, 'No, no, he changed your name.'"
Even more ironic is the fact that the young man who sang with such gleeful authority about Mississippi queens and Bourbon Street had never been to the Crescent City. It wasn't until two years later, when he was again riding high on the charts with the jubilant "Quarter to Three," that someone thought of inviting him to the Big Easy.
"When we recorded all that, I had never been there," affirms Bonds. "But I tell you what, it's a great city. The only reason I hate going there is I gain 30 pounds."
Unlike "New Orleans," "Quarter to Three" stems straight from Bonds' firsthand experience. His friend Gene Barch originally cut the tune as an instrumental with his band Daddy G & the Church Street Five. It wasn't until Bonds added lyrics that it became the party record of the early Sixties. It took him all of 15 minutes.
"We had a couple of, er, colas, and I guess that's how I got to write it so quick," swears Bonds. "We went in and recorded with our friends doing a lot of screaming and yelling and hanging out, and I guess that was it. It seems to have worked. And the party wasn't bad, either."