I don’t think it would surprise anyone to learn that Gary U.S. Bonds is not his real name. Gary was born Gary Anderson in 1939 in Jacksonville, Florida. He started singing publicly in church but when his family moved to Virginia, Gary started a vocal group he called The Turks. They were a doo-wop group and were, largely, street singers.
Gary got his first break when he met Frank Guida who owned the record label Legrand Records. His first record for Legrand was a country song called “New Orleans.” When Gary recorded it sounded nothing like country. When Gary saw the physical record, he was surprised to find that the singer was listed as U.S. Bonds. It turns out the Guida ate lunch at a nearby delicatessen and there were posters on the wall advertising savings bonds. Apparently, that was the inspiration for the name.
“New Orleans” did well enough (peaking at number six,) that a follow up was ordered/ One day Gary was in the studio with a group called The Church Street Five and they were working on a song they called “A Night With Daddy G.” Daddy G was one of the members of the Church Street Five. This song was an instrumental and Gary thought it would be cool to put words to it. “Quarter to Three” was born.
The legend behind this song is that they started working on it about 10 P.M. when most of the group was drunk. The party sound you hear in the song is really a party going on in the studio. Gary had to sing his part in the bathroom, so the microphone could pick up his voice over the ruckus that was going on.
“Quarter to Three” is included on the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.
“Quarter to Three” entered the pop chart on June 5, 1961 and spent two weeks at number one. It was the only number one that Gary Anderson had. He did keep performing for most of his life.