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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Son Bonds

Abraham John Bond Jr., known as Son Bonds, b. March 16, 1909 in Brownsville, TN, d. August 31, 1947 in Dyersburg, TN, country blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was a working associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon. He was similar to Estes in his guitar-playing style. According to Allmusic journalist Jim O'Neal, "the music to one of Bonds's songs, 'Back and Side Blues' (1934), became a standard blues melody when Sonny Boy Williamson I, from nearby Jackson, Tennessee, used it in his classic "Good Morning, School Girl". The best-known of Bonds's other works are "A Hard Pill to Swallow" and "Come Back Home."

Bonds was born in Brownsville, Tennessee. He was also billed on record as "Brownsville" Son Bonds and Brother Son Bonds. Sleepy John Estes, in his earlier recordings, was backed by Yank Rachell (mandolin) or Hammie Nixon (harmonica), but by the late 1930s he was accompanied in the recording studio by either Bonds or Charlie Pickett (guitar). Bonds also backed Estes on a couple of recording sessions in 1941. In return, either Estes or Nixon played on every one of Bonds's own recordings. In the latter part of his career, Bonds played the kazoo as well as the guitar on several tracks. According to Nixon's later accounts of the event, Bonds suffered an accidental death in August 1947. While sitting on his front porch late one evening in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bonds was shot to death by his nearsighted neighbor, who mistook Bonds for another man with whom the neighbor was having a protracted disagreement.


Son Bonds Biography by Jim O'Neal

An associate of Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Bonds played very much in the same rural Brownsville style that the Estes-Nixon team popularized in the '20s and '30s. Curiously, either Estes or Nixon (but never both of them together) played on all of Bonds's recordings. The music to one of Bonds's songs, "Back and Side Blues" (1934), became a standard blues melody when John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson from nearby Jackson, TN, used it in his classic "Good Morning, (Little) School Girl" (1937). According to Nixon, Bonds was shot to death, while sitting on his front porch, by a nearsighted neighbor who mistook him for another man.