To say that Bonnie Murray Tamblyn was once a truckstop waitress and a pack-station guide and cook would be surprising, yet accurate. Bonnie’s roots began in Hollywood where music was an essential element in her life. Inspired by her father Alex Murray, (the great session violinist on many classic Frank Sinatra, Everly Brothers, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughn and countless other hit records of the era), Bonnie first studied French folk songs and classical music. But as she began to write her own more contemporary compositions, she felt the call of the times and gravitated to the deeper roots of Rock, Blues, and Country.
She eventually hit the road with her dog and her guitar, and worked her way up and down California Highway 395, and it was on this road that Bonnie found her voice. Many late night sessions in honky tonks inspired her to write about the turn of the seasons or the cold of one beginning, the sundry cast of characters in the backwaters, the chase of unrequited love, a young life cut short, and of course, bar fights, good times and dancing. While playing solo, she began to collect a musical cadre of friends and eventually formed her first band, Blue Heaven. She put out her album on Epic Records, and opened for Dave Mason and Fleetwood Mac. Always on the hunt for authentic music, Bonnie moved Louisiana to learn from the deepest of roots of the American experience. She penned the top 40 country hit sung by Dottsy on RCA Records, “I Hope you Understand when I’m Gone.” She continued to perform throughout the states collecting fans and soon became a favorite of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including her future husband, actor/dancer Russ Tamblyn, whom she met while she was playing the Troubador. Bonnie’s many recordings from this period can be heard on her compilation CD, Return of the Rainbow Girl.
At one of Bonnie’s gigs at the Topanga Corral, Russ proposed to her and swept her into a new chapter of her life. She and Russ raised two daughters.
Returning to her first love, Bonnie continues to play and tour the US both as a solo act and often accompanied by her daughter, actress/poet Amber Tamblyn. She has also re-formed her old touring band, Blue Heaven. Bonnie is the founder and executive producer of the June Lake Loop Mountain Music Festival, now in its fifth year, and the founder of the non-profit June Lake Loop Performing Arts Association.
Bonnie Murray Tamblyn’s latest CD/vinyl and downloads can be found on ITunes or by mail order @ Light Rail Records. CDs also available on CD-Baby.
Photo credit: Allonte Barakat