this page was updated
Jan. 4th 2005
Jack Bonus
front cover back cover
One of the best singer/songwriter albums' of the last century, and I picked it up for 3 bits at a factory outlet. 

For 30 years I was completely oblivious as to who, what, where, and whatever Jack was... totally incapable of scrounging up any piece of information.  So by the time of the emergence of the web, I put the scan of the album cover, and what little info can be qouted from it on the net - and lo and behold eventually a few bits of information surfaced:

Jack Bonus is a SF Bay Area session musician, who played the 'Dead' scene in the late sixties early seventies.

His only solo album (to date) came out on Grunt Records - a Jefferson Airplane project to release choice recordings, that the big recording companies wouldn't take. 

The album contains a number of very heartfelt, heartbreaking tunes as well as joyous toetappin' diddies.  Unfortunately the beautiful 'The Hobo Song' has become famous as an Old & In The Way tune in a bluegrass version and is therefore always covered that way. It is an grand emotional song worthy of Curtis Mayfield -- and I'd rather hear tearjerk par excelance Aron Neville cover it!  
Jefferson Airplane
seem to be the only band to have covered any of the other songs from the album, namely 'Sweet Mahidabelle'.

Diligent fans have tried to trace Jack for years at no avail - and then lo and behold, word has it on the mailinglist, that Jack is still seen riding his bicycle in his old stomping grounds. expert tracker Steve Anthony at
Steve told me, '...Jack also played on The Rowan Brothers lps and also appeared on a Tom Paxton lp. I have been trying to locate old Jack for several years now, with no success, but I will keep trying. You can also read a review of Jack's album at Billboard [can't get that link to work any longer]. The place to get a complete listing of Jack Bonus contributions to other artists' works is at '

where is Jack ??!
The Jack Bonus mailinglist had one of Jack's old neighbours from way back as a member for a while, and we were able to establish, that Jack was around and doing fine, which was great to hear.

However, that member's mail is bouncing [ as did the mailinglist at Yahoo - or rather Yahoo stepped in a cable and I had to restart the thing a couple of times, so it's now running at GoogleGroups ].

Well Jack, we all hope you're still fine and picking those strings -- of course we'd all love to hear you do another show, be it on stage, vinyl, or just hummin' a tune while standing in line waiting for the bus.

Bless you maestro !

- Christian

Google Groups Jack Bonus
- 3rd time round mailinglist
browse archives
e-mail Christian

Recently I've listened to 'The Hobo Song' covered by these bands in the 'Old & In The Way' bluegrass rendition - with little if any panache's like a car chase, completely without Jack's heartbreaking delivery.
-- I certainly hope Jack gets his royalties from these guys, who are not only ruining it, but usually passing it as a 'Peter Rowan' song !!   :(

The sound files are in the 'shorten' format, that needs converting using eg. mkwACT [right click 'The Hobo Song' and select 'Save as']

Leftover Salmon (Joe Yeoger(?), Peter Rowan, Bill Nershi, Mayor McCheese, Todd Park Mohr)
'The Hobo Song' (comes packed with 'Panama Red')
concert info:

String Cheese Incident 
'The Hobo Song'
concert info:

Big Wu
'The Hobo Song'
concert info:

Blueground Undergrass 
they actually announce it as 'a Peter Rowan song'  :(  
'The Hobo Song'
concert info:

'The Hobo Song'
concert info:

Old & In The Way cover
The Great American Eagle Tragedy cover attempts to show you all relations, where Jack Bonus took part.
e.g. Jack has recorded with :

Papa John Creach    'Papa John Creach' (1971)             Saxophone  
Earth Opera         'Great American Eagle Tragedy' (1969) Wind  
Grootna             'Grootna' (1972)                      Saxophone  
Tom Paxton          'Things I Notice Now' (1969)          Flute, Sax (Tenor), Wind  
Tom Paxton          'I Can't Help Wonder Where I'm...' (1999) Flute, Sax (Tenor)  
Peter Rowan         'Texican Badman' (1981)               Saxophone  
The Rowan Brothers  'Rowan Brothers' (1972)               Flute, Saxophone  
The Rowans          'Rowans' (1975)                       Flute, Sax (Alto), Wind  
Chris & Lorin Rowan 'Texacan Badman' (1980)               Saxophone  
Various Artists     'Bosstown Sound, 1968: The Music &...' (1996) 

Old & In The Way was :

Jerry Garcia    - banjo, vocals 
David Grisman   - mandolin, vocals 
Peter Rowan     - guitar, vocals 
Vassar Clements - fiddle 
John Kahn       - acoustic bass 
Earth Opera was : 

PAUL DILLON     drms, vcls, perc, gtr A B 
DAVID GRISMAN   mandolin, piano, sax, vcls A B 
JOHN NAGY       bs, cello A B 
PETER ROWAN     gtr, sax, vcls A B 
BILL STEVENSON  vibes, keyb'ds A 
(BILL MUNDI     drms A) 
(WARREN SMITH   drms A) 
(JACK BONUS     sax  B) 
(HERB BUSHLER   double bs  B) 
(JOHN CALE      viola  B) 
(DAVE HOROWITZ  keyb'ds  B) 
(RICHARD GRANDO sax, bass recorder  B) 
(BILL KEITH     pedal steel gtr  B) 
...when I last checked using Google, I noticed John Herald had recorded Sweet Mahidabelle and Jetembocooh (Live at Max's), which is credited to Jack Bonus ...I'd love to hear that one =:)

e-mail Christian
comments on any or all of these matters are very welcome...

See also Suggested Listening | Suggested Reading | Suggested Beers | Suggested Backgammon