1955 Bonnie Lou – Daddy-O
Mary Joan Okum grew up in Illinois and began singing and playing the violin and guitar while still in high school.
She signed a five-year contract to perform Country music on the Brush Creek Follies barn dance show as Sally Carson in 1941. Since she was only 16 when she signed the contract, she was able to void it a few years later.
In 1945, Mary signed with WLW to appear on the Boone County Jamboree. The show later became named Midwestern Hayride Country & Western Radio Program and she appeared on broadcasts and live shows for the program. Since she could no longer use her prior stage name, she suggested using Mary Jo, but the station insisted that name did not sound Country enough and gave her the stage name Bonnie Lou.
She continued the broadcasts into the fifties and even sang on the Grand Ole Opry a few times.
Bonnie signed with King Records in Cincinnati and reached the Country charts for the first time in 1953 when her single Seven Lonely Days reached #7. A few months later, Tennessee Wig Walk followed it onto the chart and peaked at #6. The single also reached #4 in the UK and became one of the most popular British Football anthems.
Bonnie then began performing rock-and-roll in a format that came to be known as rockabilly. She recorded the single Two-Step Side-Step in 1954. Murry Wilson, the father of the three Wilson brothers in the Beach Boys, wrote the song (which failed to chart).
Her recording contract with King Records expired, and RCA offered Bonnie a new recording contract. RCA wanted Bonnie to move to New York City, so she chose to sign with a local label, Fraternity Records, instead. She recorded the song Daddy-O, which entered the Hot 100 chart in 1955. When the record reached the top twenty, she wanted to leave town to make public appearances, but the radio station she worked for refused to let her off work. When she could not further promote the record, it peaked at #14 in early December. The Fontane Sisters also recorded the song, and three weeks after Bonnie’s record began to fade, their less-Country version reached #11 on the Hot 100.
Midwestern Hayride moved to television on the NBC network and Bonnie continued to appear on the show until it went off the air in 1972. She hosted the Six Star Ranch, a live music radio show on the Mutual network. She also appeared regularly on the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club, an entertainment and talk show.
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