Gary Levone Anderson was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1939. He adopted the professional name, U.S. Bonds, but quickly changed it to Gary U.S. Bonds as fans thought the name represented a group and not an individual.
While he was considered a rhythm & blues artist, many of his biggest hits moved over into a pure rock ‘n’ roll style and sound. He would produce five top ten hits (1960-1962). Songs such as “New Orleans,” “School Is In,” and “Dear Lady Twist” were all blasts of pre-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll. It really didn’t get much better than Gary U.S. Bonds during the early 1960s.
His biggest hit was “Quarter To Three,” which was released during the spring of 1961. It had a doo-wop beginning, a honking saxophone foundation, and a rock ‘n’ roll center.
“Quarter To Three” reached the number one position on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart 50 years ago this week, and remained there for two weeks. It was the only chart topper of his career. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame named it as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll. The song made him a star in the United States and Europe and during his European tour The Beatles served as one of his supporting acts.
During the early phase of Bruce Springsteen’s career, he would regularly use the song as a part of his stage act encore. He would remember Gary U.S. Bonds when he became famous. He and his sidekick, Little Steven, produced and played on his 1981 comeback album, Dedication. Springsteen wrote three of the songs including the hit, “This Little Girl.” A year later Bonds and Springsteen produced On The Line, which included seven more Springsteen compositions and another hit, “Out Of Work.”
Gary U.S. Bonds has released two new studio albums during the last seven years and continues to tour on a regular basis. “Quarter To Three” remains a centerpiece of his concert act and 50 years ago this week it topped the music world.