The Musical Journey of Johnny Bond


Introduction to Johnny Bond

Johnny Bond (born Cyrus Whitfield Bond in 1915 – died in 1978) was an American country singer-songwriter and guitarist, active through the 40s to the 60s music era. He was born in Envill, Oklahoma to a poor family of farmers. Already proficient in playing the guitar and entertaining audiences as well, he tried his luck on the music business. Bond formed his own group, originally formed the Singing Cowboy Trio along with Jimmy Wakely and Scotty Harrell in Oklahoma City. In the late 1930s country star Gene Autry discovered the band and invited them to play on his radio show Melody Ranch, whose station was based in California, where Bond and the rest of his band eventually moved. They became regulars on that radio show for sixteen years until the its cancellation in the mid-1950s. Bond also acted on occasion, in such films as Duel in the Sun. With the advent of television, Bond got to star on a locally-produced country music-oriented series Town Hall Party, in Los Angeles. Bond had several country hits such as “Divorce Me C.O.D.,” “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed,” “The Daughter of Joe Blon,” “Love Song in 32 Beers,” and “Sick, Sober and Sorry,” among others. His most successful singles occurred when he was well into his 40s and 50s: “Hot Rod Lincoln” (1960) and “10 Little Bottles” (1965), both of which made dents on the pop chart. Bond passed away, at age 63, of a heart attack in 1978.

Johnny Bond’s early years

American country music singer Johnny Bond was born on June 1, 1915 in Enville, Oklahoma. Cyrus Whitfield Bond as his given name, he was raised in an impoverished family of farmers. Bond initially learned how to play the trumpet and later proceeded to guitar and ukulele. Ever since in high school, Bond already wanted to follow the footsteps of his early music hero, Jimmie Rodgers.

Johnny Bond entering the music business

With Bond’s desire to pursue his music career, he later moved to Oklahoma City in 1937. There, he formed a trio which he named the Bell Boys, consisting Jimmy Wakely and Scotty Harrell. However, the Bell Boys was later changed to the Jimmy Wakely Trio. Bond was already penning country songs during that time as well. One of Bond’s first songs was the classic “Cimarron.” In the late 1930’s, the Jimmy Wakely Trio was spotted by Gene Autry who invited them to perform on his own radio show Melody Ranch on CBS. Eventually, Bond became Autry’s sidekick in the show until 1956. Autry also led him to appear in numerous films. He continued to make cameo appearances until 1947.

Johnny Bond as a successful solo artist

Mounting a solo career in 1941, Bond was signed to Columbia Records where he scored several hits, making at the Top 10 on the Billboard country singles chart: “Divorce Me C.O.D.,” (#4), “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” (#3) and “Sick, Sober and Sorry” (#7). By that time, Bond was slowly switching his country style to up-tempo boogie woogie and honky tonk. In the mid-1950’s, he emerged into rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll sound.

In 1960, Bond was signed to Autry’s Republic label where he had another hit “Hot Rod Lincoln.” It peaked at #26 on the US charts. The single was also Bond’s first record to be released in the UK. For the British version, the title was replaced with “Hot Rod Jalopy” and some parts of the lyrics were changed as well. Bond continued to release singles until he had another hit with “Ten Little Bottles” in 1965. Since “Ten Little Bottles” was first recorded on Columbia in 1954, the releasing of the single on Starday was interrupted for a while by the other label. However, it was released and became a success, reaching #2 on the country charts and crossed over to the pop charts at #43. It was also issued in the UK as well.

Bond’s retirement in the business

After recording a couple of albums with his last label (CMH Records) in 1976, he later retired on the same year. He started getting occupied by writing books such as Tex Ritter’s biography, an auto biography and “Thirty Years on the Road with Gene Autry.” The last book was posthumously published in 2007.

On June 12, 1978, the 63-year old Bond succumbed to a heart attack. In 1999, he was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame and to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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