Lee Bonds: Wild Cattin’ Woman Done Gone Crazy

Lee Bonds (1924-Present)

By Tony Biggs (thanks Tony: he’s the bass-player of the Rimshots, Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, Bill Fadden & The Rhythmbusters and Ponchartrain)

Lee Bonds was born in  Albertville, Alabama on April 22, 1924. At a very young  age he became interested in Honky Tonk music and by the age of 18 decided to leave his dad’s farm and headLee Bonds pic1 down the musical road. He toured throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida for five years. On his return to Alabama he secured a slot on local Radio station WGWD in his home town city of Gadsen, where he became a regular performer.  He joined the ‘Midway Jamboree’ show in 1951 that was relayed by WGWD and became their resident bassman.

Bonds and his band, The Shady Lane Playboys, made their first recording sessions in Nashville during early 1951 for the newly formed Tennessee Records (also based in Nashville).

His style was typically Honky Tonk, but alongside his very rural voice, Bonds incorporated a trumpet into his music giving it a slight bluesy feel. His self-penned ‘Uh-Huh Honey’ was later covered by several artists including Charlie Feathers.

Bonds only saw two releases for the label before Tennessee Records folded under inauspicious circumstances.

Sometime in 1952 he ventured to California and guested for ‘Walkin’ Charlie Aldrich and

Spade Cooley in the summer.

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Tennessee Records

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Lee Bonds

second release (suite…)

The Tennessee label (1950-1952)

bill beasley

William Beasley

The Tennessee label

It was owned by Alan and Reynold Bubis (cousins) and formed in late 1949 by Williams Beasley who owned Coastline Distribution and was a protege of Jim Bulleit at a time when the Bullet label was having great local and national success. This was a time of expansion in Nashville as the Opry radio show became more and more popular and the number of studios grew. The Tennessee label used Castle or Bullet studios, but also radio stations after-hours (WKDA, WMAK), before Beasley set up his own studio. It had its musicians (The Nite Owls, a bunch of ever-changing musicians) and publishing outlet (first Tennessee, then Babb Music). The biggest hits Tennessee had was in the pop field: Del Wood and her singalong piano solos. But, like Bullet, Tennessee also recorded many excellent hillbilly and honky-tonk songs, and had no idea of recording star names. Beasley was looking for regular sales of 25,000. Often thee had the boogie rhythm and low-life themes that paved the way for country rock and rockabilly music a few years later. The musicians involved frequently included Harold Bradley (g), Farris Coursey (d), Allen Flatt (g) and Ernie Newton (b).

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