|Birth: ||Mar. 22, 1932|
|Death: ||Jun. 29, 1978|
Weldon H. Philip Bonner, better known as Juke Boy Bonner-He was an American blues singer, harmonica player, and guitarist. He was influenced by Lightnin' Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, and Slim Harpo.
Born in Bellville, Texas, Bonner was one of nine children; his parents died while he was very young, and he was raised by a neighbour's family, and later, he moved in with his older sister in 1945. At the age of twelve he taught himself the guitar. He gained the nickname "Juke Boy" as a youth, as he frequently sang in local bars accompanied by the juke box. Starting a musical career as teenager, he won the first prize at local disc jockey Trummie Cain's weekly talent show at the Lincoln Theater in Houston, Texas in 1948. Through this he secured a 15 minute radio slot on a show operated by record retailer Henry Atlas. After having three children with his wife, she left him to look after the children by himself. Bonner made sure that every one of his children would grow up with the best support he could offer them.
Between 1954 and 1957 he recorded several singles for the Oakland, California-based Irma Label, but not all were released at the time. In 1960 he recorded again, this time for the Goldband, Storyville, and Jan & Dill labels. In 1963 he was diagnosed with a large stomach ulcer, and had to have almost half of his stomach removed in surgery. The shock of this operation, plus the social climate of the times (which included civil rights riots and the assissination of President John F. Kennedy) led Bonner to begin writing poetry, some of which was published in the Forward Times weekly newspaper. Recovering from surgery, Bonner worked as a RCA record distributor in Houston. Once his strength returned he began playing gigs again in the local area.
In 1967 Bonner recorded his first LP for the Flyright label. Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie label released two LP's, I'm Going Back to The Country (1968) and The Struggle (1969) (Arhoolie would later issue some of Bonner's unreleased 1967-1974 recordings on 2003's Ghetto Poet). Bonner recorded mostly original song material through his recording career. He was a guest at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, the American Folk Blues Festival, and the Montreux Blues and Rock Festival. In 1972 he released an LP for Sonet records, and in 1975 another one for the Houston-based Home Cooking Label. Sadly, Bonner was not able to support himself from his music due to little demand for his work and lacking record sales. Although he would continue to play and record sporadically, he had no choice but to take a minimum-wage job at a meat processing plant in Houston.
Bonner died in his apartment in 1978, aged forty-six, of cirrhosis of the liver.
Created by: K
Record added: Aug 31, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21268033