Gary U.S. Bonds’ roots are in Florida and Virginia, and he’s a longtime Long Island resident, but he also became an honorary New Jerseyan in 1981.
A singer-songwriter specializing in raucous party songs, he had had some hits in the early ’60s (“Quarter to Three,” “New Orleans,” “School Is Out”), but the rock world had largely forgotten about him by the early ’80s. But Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt remembered, and co-produced his ’81 comeback album, Dedication. They also wrote some of the material, and they and other E Street Band members backed Bonds on it.
Bonds got back on the charts (and back on the radio, with hits “This Little Girl” and the Springsteen duet “Jole Blon) and has retained a strong bond (no pun intended) with Jersey rock fans ever since.
Below is a clip of Bonds in 1981, performing the Springsteen-written Dedication title track at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.