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March 16, 2021 10 min
When Gene Vincent performed in Vancouver in 1958, the opening act was Bonnie Guitar. Bonnie started her career in Seattle. She recorded "Dark Moon" on Dot Records in March of 1957, an instant hit even though initially she had strong competition from singer-actress Gale Storm. Her next smash was "Mister Fire Eyes" and her stage presentation was smooth as glass. Bonnie sat down with me at CKWX the day before the concert for this interview. When I look back it was a good balance at the time. There was much interest in Bonnie Guitar in those days because she was one of the very few female singers to make a hit record. I was to enjoy many visits with Bonnie over the years as she later became involved with Bob Reisdorff and Dolton Records, based in Seattle. The label fostered groups like the The Ventures and the Fleetwoods, songs by Bonnie herself, Vic Dana, and others. Bob had a good ear for music. The Fleetwoods - Gary Troxel, Barbara Ellis and Gretchen Christopher - were students at Olympia High School. They wrote a song called "Come Softly To Me" and it was a smash number one song in the Spring of 1959. Their gentle sound preceded The Carpenters by a dozen years. Their last Top Ten hit was a revival of the Thomas Wayne classic "Tragedy" in 1961. In a 2006 interview with No Depression magazine, Bonnie said "Because they had so much air in their voices, I had to do a lot of different fooling with microphones to get enough sound on the tape to saturate the tape.” You'll hear a Fleetwoods promo for my CKWX show right after the interview. Bonnie left Dolton in 1960 and became part owner of Jerden Records with my old friend, the late Jerry Dennon. Dolton was merged with Liberty Records in 1966. Liberty had distributed Dolton releases since "Come Softly to Me" became a hit, but discontinued the Dolton label in 1967, transferring its artists to the parent label. Bonnie Guitar retired from performing in 1996. She died in 2019 at the age of 95. She'll always be remembered as a multi-talented businesswoman who made an impact in the male-dominated music industry.
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