Two for Tuesday: Bonnie Guitar

Bonnie Buckingham, better known as Bonnie Guitar, turns ninety on March 25, so I had to feature her. Born in 1923 in Seattle, she learned to play the guitar while a teenager and worked at a number of small labels as a session guitarist in the 1950’s. She worked with the likes of Jim Reeves, Dorsey Burnette and the DeCastro Sisters during that time, and wanted to record one for herself.

She heard the song “Dark Moon” in 1956, when Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley were starting to define the “New Nashville Sound,” and went so far as to agree to waive her session fee if she could record the song herself. Her recording (the first track here) was originally released on Fabor Records, and in 1957 Dot Records released it. It rose to #14 on the country charts and #6 on the pop charts, making her the only woman besides Patsy Cline to have a hit simultaneously on both. A followup song, “Mister Fire Eyes,” charted at #15 on the country chart and #71 on the pop chart later in 1957. “Candy Apple Red,” the second video, made it to #97 on the pop chart in 1958.

She continued recording and performing around the country until 1996, when she retired to Soap Lake, Washington. She still performs there occasionally.

Happy birthday, Bonnie Guitar, your two for Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

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