Born Cyrus Whitfield Bond in Enville, Oklahoma, he learned ukelele and guitar headed to Oklahoma City as a teen to play dances and radio shows as a member of the Singing Cowboy Trio and later the Bell Boys. Bond’s big break came in 1939 as a member of the Jimmy Wakely Trio when they were brought out to Hollywood to appear in a western called “The Saga of Death Valley, starring Roy Rogers. By 1940 Jimmy Wakely’s trio had relocated to California and become regulars on Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch radio show, the trio disbanded, but Bond stayed on air for some 16 years until the show was dropped in 1956. Bond also ended up in some 38 films between 1939 and 1947, usually as a bit player, musical interlude or sidekick. In 1947, while his film career was ending, the notoreity remained and he had three top five country hits including “Divorce Me C.O.D.”.
His legendary songcraft, healthy baritone voice and pioneering hillbilly-western swing sound is heard on enduring tracks from the 1940’s like “I’ll Step Aside” and “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight”. “Cimarron” was covered by Johnny Cash, Bob Wills, Les Paul & Mary Ford and many others. “I’ll Step Aside,” became hits for everyone from Billy Vaughn & his Orchestra to Johnny Rodriguez, while “Tomorrow Never Knows” was a hit for Glen Campbell and also was covered by Lynn Anderson,Loretta Lynn and Elvis Presley amongst others! Bond was also a gifted guitar player who appeared on records by Rosemary Clooney, Jimmie Davis, Flat & Scruggs, and Marty Robbins. Other well known artists who recorded his songs include Jerry Lee Lewis,Hank Thompson,Arthur Alexander,the Sons Of The Pioneers and Louvin Brothers.
Bond’s recorded steadily from the 1940’s, was a regular on the 1950s country music television series Town Hall Party, had his own radio show for awhile, and despite being dropped by Columbia in 1957, his biggest hits didn’t arrive until the 1960’s. The latter period chart toppers being 1964’s “Ten Little Bottles” and the 1960 rebel rock n roll standard “Hot Rod Lincoln”.
Autry revived his Melody Ranch show as a tv program for 5 years in 1965 and Johnny Bond stayed onboard as well, meanwhile The Starday label issued some 14 Johnny Bond titles between 1960 and 1971.
Bond’s and his backing group The Red River Valley Boys were also well-known for doing double duty as Tex Ritter’s studio band. Members included Jimmy Wakely (popular vocalist and student of Gene Autry), Noel Boggs (pedal steel giant who played with Bob Wills and Spade Cooley), Wesley Tuttle (guitar player with the likes of Merle Travis and Ernest Tubb) and Paul Sells (accordion, organ and honky tonk piano player extraordinaire).
Edited by dvoodoo on 24 May 2008, 01:42
Sources (view history)
add’l info from Country Music Hall of fame
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