Prepared by Bob Phillips, Public Relations Director, National Traditional Country Music Assn., Inc. 501(c)3 music preservationists
P O Box 492, Anita, Iowa, 50020, 712-762-4363, bobeverhart@yahoo.com
Contacts follow story
Photos available at HistoryLink.org – The free online encyclopedia of Washington State History
     Soap Lake, Washington…..”Who would have thought that one of the most impressive vocalists to ever emerge from the State of Washington, would at the age of 88, come out of retirement to perform at an old-time country music festival in Iowa?”  Bob Everhart is the President of the National Traditional Country Music Association, a large group of upper Midwest farmers, ranchers, down home country people, and small town folks, that have a deep and abiding respect for America’s great traditional country music.  “We had Patti Page at our annual week-long event last year,” Everhart said, “and one of the songs that she recorded was a beautiful piece of music called “Dark Moon.”  Another very nice vocalist by the name of Gale Storm also recorded it.  She went on to become a star in the television show “My Little Margie.”  The bottom line success of the song however, was and is Bonnie Guitar.  It was written by Ned Miller, and Bonnie Guitar recorded it first in 1957, with only her own Gretsch Country Club guitar, along with a bass player and Ned Miller, the composer, playing baroque treble figures on his capo’d guitar.  It was an instant hit.  The incredibly beautiful and haunting voice of Bonnie Guitar, along with the simple backing, made it an over-night love affair between Ms. Guitar and her rural audience.  In a very short time, it was proclaimed the biggest smash of the year, and Bonnie was on her way to the Ed Sullivan Show.  It wasn’t much longer before she was ‘on the road’ with other super stars, her favorites being the Everly Brothers from Iowa.  Following the huge hit of “Dark Moon,” with another one, “Mister Fire Eyes” found her on the Ranch Party, and Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch Show in California.  She was offered an instant regular spot on the Grand Ole Opry, after just one appearance at the Ryman Auditorium.”
     Bonnie Guitar had other aspirations.  “What I really liked to do, was studio work.  I loved it.  My whole musical being revolved around creating new musical sounds and recording techniques.  I loved being in the spotlight, but the road work made me weary.  I was far more at ease in the studio than I was traveling.  My father was a farmer, and a middling fiddler with a taste for Irish tenors, and a vast collection of old songs.  I had my first guitar when I was 13, and listened to Nick Lucas.  I also listened to folk singers like Woody Guthrie.  My favorite guitarist was Django Reinhardt.  Most fun for me was ‘creating’ new sounds on the guitar.”
     Back in Seattle, Washington in 1956, she teamed up with a promotion man, Bob Reisdorff, who had dreams of establishing his own recording company, and with the help of Bonnie, they formed Dolton Records.  Combining Bonnie’s incredible studio abilities with Reisdorff’s promotional skills, a group called the Fleetwoods, soon had a hit on their hands “Come Softly To Me.”  This led them to another hit, mastered in the studio by Bonnie, “Mr. Blue.”  Instant fame and lots of money eventually led to disagreements, and a parting of the ways.  Bonnie Guitar was hired as Artist & Repertoire for RCA Records, an almost unheard of position for a female in the recording business.  This also led her to releasing many successful country music recordings.  She worked with Eddy Arnold, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Sonny James, and Willie Nelson.  When her contract expired with RCA, she went directly to Dot Records, with even more country music independence and success, including her huge hit “I’m Living In Two Different Worlds.”   The Country & Western Music Academy named her their Top Female Vocalist of the Year in 1966. 
     “In 1983, Bonnie’s heart was broken by the death of her long-ailing husband, and she withdrew from public life.  It took a long time for her to finally accept an offer to do some singing at the local Notaras Lodge in Soap Lake, Washington.  What began as a supposed one-off gig, turned into one that she is still doing.”  It was at the Notaras Lodge that Bob Everhart finally tracked her down, and a short conversation led to an agreement to attend the 36th National Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, to be inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  “The festival actually lasts for seven days, August 29 through September 4th,” Everhart noted, “and Bonnie Guitar will be with us on September 3rd, for a “Revival of ‘Dark Moon.’  She will be joined by Grand Ole Opry stars Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, and Jeannie Seely.”
     More information at the NTCMA website at http://www.orgsites.com/ia/oldtimemusic
Bob Everhart – bobeverhart@yahoo.com

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