Bonnie Hayes

Bonnie Hayes

(Interview below from in 2007)

While Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Bonnie Hayes didn’t technically move to Marin until the 1990s, she spent hours of time upon Marin’s various music stages during the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Hayes was in a band called “Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo” in the ’80’s.  Her first big national hit, “Shelley’s Boyfriend” made the singer a favorite at Marin’s larger clubs.

“At the time, we didn’t play too much at Sweetwater because we had too much of a draw,” she says.  “We could sell out Sweetwater, play two sold-out shows there and still not make as much as playing one show at Uncle Charlie’s.”  (In 2007, Hayes said the Sweetwater is her favorite place to play and “one of the most important clubs in Marin for both established artists and new ones. I feel like Sweetwater is my home.”)

Hayes, who now lives in San Anselmo, says Uncle Charlie’s was famous in Marin during the early ’80’s.  “It was just a little crappy club in a strip mall in Corte Madera down by the Highway Patrol.  It was kind of nice inside.  They had a good PA.  Huey Lewis and all those guys used to play there.  Most clubs were having a lot of cover bands in those days so Uncle Charlie’s was a popular place to see original music .  It was also a big drug place – a big cocaine joint – if I remember correctly.”

Hayes Writes Hits for Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time”

Bonnie_Raitt-Nick_Of_Time_3Her songs “Have A Heart” and “Love Letter” helped relaunch Bonnie Raitt’s career in the late-Eighties on the mega-hit album “Nick of Time”.   Click the play button below to hear Hayes’ version of “Love Letter.”

When Hayes wasn’t on stage, she frequented Marin clubs such as the The Sleeping Lady (in Fairfax) and The Lion’s Share.  “I was in love with the Sons of Champlin,” she says,  “I tried to see them as much as possible.”

Other Bonnie Hayes Marin hangouts: “There was a giant place in San Rafael – right near the freeway – it was a pool parlor, sort of biker bar.  I used to shoot pool there all the time.  It later became New George’s where we had a lot of gigs.  We also went to Bon Tempe Lake a lot to goof off.”

Hayes also fondly remembers Rancho Nicasio.  At the time, she says, “the Rancho was considered out in the boonies, it was a total Marin insider place.

I think I saw the Sons of Champlin there and I saw Huey really early play there.  And the Ford Brothers.  A lot of blues bands played there.  It was basically a big empty room at that time.”

What kind of people were there?

“Hippies!!!  Hip-EEES!!!!” she says with a laugh.  ” When I was going there it was the 70’s and really early 80’s and it was still a total Bohemian hippie

“Girls Like Me” featured in Valley Girl Movie

Click PLAY on the video below to hear Bonnie Hayes’ “Girls Like Me” from the Valley Girl film soundtrack.

scene up in Marin.  Uncle Charlie’s had the new cutting edge scene and the punky, new wave stuff but  The Rancho was more of a hippie place.  And Sleeping Lady was a hippie place too.  (The Sleeping Lady)  had a lot of Jazz and acoustic music.  I remember this great piano player named Dave Alexander used to play there and I’d love going to see him whenever I could.”

“Uncle Charlie’s was ‘the pick up place’, a much faster crowd,” Hayes remembers.

lionsshare

Old Lion’s Share Building in San Anselmo

“The Lion’s Share was gone already by that point.  We were going to the Lion’s Share in the early Seventies.  My brothers and I had a jazz fusion band called Sweet Meat and we’d play there.  I think we played one of our first gigs there.  (Brother Chris Hayes later became one of the founding members of Huey Lewis and the News.)”

Hayes’ memories of The LIon’s Share are hazy.  “It’s funny because I barely remember it,” she says.  “I hadn’t played very much (at the time) and I was a young 17 year old girl who was into jazz.  So I just remember the Lion’s Share as dark and weird and there were strange people in there.”

She also recalls The Sleeping Lady – “a little café style place” with lots of “acoustic style hippie music.   Now it’s The Book Beat.”

“It’s really interesting how different things are today in Marin,” says Hayes.  “Most people in the City were hardly aware of Marin (in the late 70’s and early ’80’s).  It was considered far away and really little. There was hardly the interaction between the City and Marin like we have now.    Marin wasn’t that popular.  It was empty.  There was no traffic.  It was considered out in the boonies.  Even towns like Mill Valley.  There were these little Bohemian communities.  There were a lot of drop out people, people trying to live an alternative lifestyle.  It was really sleepy.  Today Marin is the center of breeding.”

To learn more about Bonnie Hayes, visit her WEBSITE.

UPDATE:  Hayes Joins Berklee College of Music in Boston!

Hayes now lives in Boston as the new head of the songwriting department at Berklee College of Music.  CLICK to read an article from The Boston Globe.

Bonnie Hayes fan from her early days in Marin?  Share your favorite memories below:

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CLICK to share your memories in the Forum

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