August 27, 2007:
CONTACT: Chris Langley< > cell 760-937-1189
What was it like to be the most famous and successful singing cowboy from 1940 to 1970? Their lives were filled with one-night shows in big and small towns, at rodeos, state fairs and in large venues like Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was a time in America, which is now gone, but not forgotten.
Johnny Bond, musician, composer and friend to Gene Autry lived and remembered to write it all down in first hand recollections of the days and nights. The Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History selected his recollections as their first book of their new publishing wing. The book entitled “Thirty Years on the Road With Gene Autry” was published and June and can be purchased now. Why would you enjoy reading the memoir bringing to life a very special time in the Americana music scene?
In 1940 when Johnny Bond went to work for Gene Autry as a member of the Jimmy Wakely Trio, Autry was arguably the most popular entertainer in the country. He was Number Four on the list of Hollywood’s Top Ten Box Office stars. He had sold millions of records as one of the most popular recording artists of the 1930’s. His “Melody Ranch Show,” heard weekly over the CBS Radio Network, sold billions of sticks of Doublemint for its sponsor during a seventeen year run. He also performed before sellout crowds, two shows a day for 21 straight days, in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Composer and musician Johnny Bond was there in every phase of Autry’s career for the next thirty years. When Bond finished the manuscript in the early 1970’s, Autry vetoed it being published at the time because he felt it was too personal and revealing for his fans. Now such celebrity biographies are a common thing, and this one is tame by comparison. However, Bond does capture the picture of a man who saw money as the center of his life and human existence, probably stemming from his poverty experienced by his family in his youth.
Not only was the music scene entirely different but the country was as well. For readers who remember those times, this book will vividly bring it all back. For the younger generation, this book will bring back to life one aspect of the music scene your parents or grandparents enjoyed.
Born in Oklahoma when author Johnny Bond was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 fans were surprised. Industry insiders were not. Bond had gotten his start with the Jimmy Wakely Trie and then joined Gene Autry. He never toured to promote himself and his own music. He had written many country classics, which was celebrated when he was elected to the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. The point is he was always associated with singing cowboys and cowboy music, and he was there on the inside to know how it really was: he good times and the bad.
The Lone Pine Film Festival is dedicated to the American tradition of the Singing Cowboy this year. Johnny Bond’s daughter Sherry, who was instrumental in getting her father’s story into print, will be at the Festival, appearing at the Museum and on a panel on The Singing Cowboy at 3:30 PM Saturday, October 6.