Juke Boy Bonner – Montreux Jazz Festival

Juke Boy Bonner

This is a video of Juke Boy Bonner live at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1975. You don’t hear too much about him or his songs these days, so here’s a short bio about him.
Juke Boy Bonner was born 2 March 1932, Bellville, Texas, USA, d. 29 June 1978, Houston, Texas, USA. Like many blues singers, Bonner’s first musical experiences were in singing spirituals as a child. He took up the guitar when he was about 13 years old and began to build up his experience following a move to Houston a few years later. In the mid-50s he was based on the west coast and made his first record for Bob Geddin’s Irma label (issued as Juke Boy Barner), playing a driving rhythm guitar and punctuating the vocals with harmonica phrases, a combination that was to become his trademark. On his second record, for Goldband in 1960, he was billed as the One Man Trio. Following this, his musical activity was based entirely around Houston for a few years, until other titles from the Goldband sessions were issued on an album on the Storyville label in Europe. The interest this generated led to further recordings, and albums on Flyright in the UK and Arhoolie in the USA consolidated his reputation. In 1969 Bonner visited Europe. His ability to compose topical blues with thoughtful and imaginative lyrics, coupled with an expressive vocal style and self-contained instrumental accompaniments, made him highly popular with his new audience, and many tours and new recordings resulted. Unfortunately, his success was to be short-lived, and he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1978.

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