Introduction to Delaney & Bonnie
Delaney & Bonnie were an American husband-and-wife duo Delaney Bramlett (born in 1939 – died in 2008) and Bonnie Lynn Bramlett (nee O’Farrell, born in 1944). Their repertoire was unique – a combination of rock, blue-eyed soul, country and gospel. However, the couple’s talents were overshadowed when the buzz was instead paid towards the inputs from their more famous “friends” – Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Duane Allman, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge and King Curtis. Bramlett was an accomplished musician, having done session work as well as played with the Shindogs, Shindig‘s house band. Bonnie, meanwhile, was a talented singer, having performed with blues guitarist Albert King and Ike and Tina Turner while she was in her teens. Delaney & Bonnie met in Los Angeles in 1967, and within a few days they married. Their first recording career together was at Stax Records, becoming the first white act in the label’s all-black roster. Their debut album Home, failed commercially. When Delaney and Bonnie moved to Elektra, they released another album The Original Delaney and Bonnie and Friends (Accept No Substitute) in 1969. It, too, failed commercially although it received praise from their musical peers, notably Eric Clapton who invited the couple to open for his band Blind Faith. After Blind Faith disbanded, Clapton continued to collaborate and tour with Delaney and Bonnie until he went out to record his first solo album (Clapton’s sound has been said to be indebted to Delaney and Bonnie’s style). Clapton, Harrison and Mason would occasionally perform with the couple, causing the act to be sometimes called Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. The couple finally experienced chart successes when their album On Tour with Eric Clapton (released on Atco label, the subsidiary of Clapton’s label Atlantic Records) reached #29 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1970. The couple’s single “Never Ending Song Of Love” reached the Billboard Top 20 in 1971, the best-performing single in their career. Delaney & Bonnie continued to work in music and tour as well, until their poorly-performed last releases as well as their divorce put an end to their professional partnership in 1973. Delaney & Bonnie, separately, continued to work in show business after their divorce.
Who is Delaney & Bonnie?
Oldies music fans will recognize the contribution of Delaney & Bonnie in the industry. The American musical duo Delaney and Bonnie – stylized as Delaney & Bonnie — gained commercial success with their hit “Never Ending Song of Love” during the early 70s music era. They were a married couple named Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett who were also singers and songwriters.
Delaney Bramlett was born on July 1, 1939 in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. He began playing guitar in his adolescence. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1959 and started his career as a studio musician. Later, he joined The Shindogs, a house band on the ABC 1964 musical variety TV show Shindig!
Bonnie Bramlett was born Bonnie Lynn O’ Farrell on November 8, 1944 in Alton, Illinois. By her early teens she was already an accomplished singer and performer. She jammed with legendary blues guitarist Albert King and as well as with Ike & Tina Turner Revue.
Delaney & Bonnie’s career and marriage
In 1967, Bonnie moved to Los Angeles where she met Delaney. They also got married later that year.
Being a member of the Shindogs, Delaney and Shindig! mate Leon Russell (who was also one of the show’s musicians) had several connections to the music industry that his band with Bonnie called Delaney & Bonnie and Friends got signed in a jiffy on Stax Records. They recorded their first album Home in early 1969. Since the album lacked promotion, it did not sell well.
Moving to Elektra Records in 1969, they issued their sophomore effort The Original Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Though it was another unsuccessful record, it otherwise gained critical acclaim. The album made quite a lot of noise in the music circuit that they were even offered by George Harrison a recording contract with the Beatles’ Apple Records. They signed that Apple contract but it was soon declared as void because they were still under Elektra. Despite that, Delaney was later caught in a dispute with Elektra that led to their contract termination.
In-mid 1969, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends were tagged along by Harrison’s good friend, Eric Clapton who got the couple to open for his own band, Blind Faith. The couple eventually built a friendship with Clapton from then on, and this even led to their collaboration for Delaney & Bonnie’s third LP On Tour with Eric Clapton. Released on Atco Records, it became their most successful album. It peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 and was given a gold disc.
Their fourth album To Bonnie from Delaney was issued in 1970, releasing the single “Soul Shake” which charted modestly at #43 on the pop chart. The follow-up single “Never Ending Song of Love” (from their fifth record Motel Shot) peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. Around that time, they were billed in big events like the Strawberry Fields Festivals and in Canada’s Festival Express tour with several established classic rock and folk artists such as The Band, Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin.
In 1971, their next album Country Life was scrapped by Atco due to its weak quality. And speaking of weak, the Delaney & Bonnie’s own marriage began to weaken as they would fight on and off. Atco later decided to sell their contract as well as their master tapes to CBS/Columbia, which released their last album, ironically titled D&B Together in 1972; the following year, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett divorced.
Delaney went on to make music, while Bonnie enjoyed some success in her second career as an actress. Delaney Bramlett died from complications he suffered from a gall bladder surgery, in 2008, aged 69.
Delaney & Bonnie’s daughter Bekka Bramlett (born in 1968) is also a singer and musician.