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Tracy Bonham Biography

Last updated: 03/13/2000 06:08:38 AM

Tracy Bonham-Robertson is a native of Eugene, Oregon. While living there Tracy pursued her interest in music which included singing in a vocal jazz choir at the University of Oregon during the winter and spring of '89. Tracy then moved to Boston, MA where she studied music and violin. Eventually forming a band, Tracy soon established her reputation on the club circuit and she had some success with the song The One.

Tracy released an EP called The Liverpool Sessions in 1995 on the Boston independant record label Cherry Disc. She played violin during that year on two dates with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for their No Quarter tour as part of the string section. Tracy is not related to deceased Led Zepellin drummer John Bonham although she has been known to cover the band's song Kashmir during live shows.

During 1996 Tracy performed a series of club dates in America and she also appeared at a number of festivals. Mid year saw the release of her first major label album The Burdens of Being Upright on Island Records. The cover art derives from a famous photo of a hod-carrier that the German photographer August Sander took in 1928. The album's popularity was underscored by the hit single Mother Mother which brought the first attention for Tracy in Australia and Europe.

In Australia it enterred the national single's charts in the top 10. Some copies of the Burdens album sold in America contained a response card which when returned entitled the sender to a free 7" blue vinyl single of "Sunshine" (from The Liverpool Sessions) and a live cover of PJ Harvey's "50 Ft. Queenie". These songs are available as CD single extra tracks in Australia.

Two promotional videos for Mother Mother exist. The more common one filmed in a house features Tracy's face in B&W on a large TV screen with her band playing in the dining room and her mother (yes, that is Tracy's real mother in the clip) is busy doing housework. The alternate clip filmed for the European market shows the band playing the song in a dressing room with Tracy going through a variety of costume changes.

To capitalise on the rapid success of Mother Mother which enterred the top ten singles list, Tracy undertook a short promotional tour of Australia during October 1996 organised by Triple M and Frontier Touring and she played four live shows in the Eastern states. Some TV interviews were broadcast including 2 filmed outside the Opera house in Sydney. One of these was with Richard Wilkins for the "Today Show" on Channel 9 (to air Oct 18) and the other for "Recovery" on Channel 2 (to air Oct 19).

Tracy then travelled to Europe where she appeared for the first time, doing the usual press and TV interviews. Her show in the Melkweg, Amsterdam on 3rd November was recorded and broadcast on "Leidskade Live" on 10 Nov 1996 although it was an edited performance. Tracy maintains a loyal following in the Netherlands moreso than any other part of Europe.

The One was Tracy's second single from the album. In Australia initial copies were shrink wrapped with a bonus folded poster of Tracy. The song and film clip only received limited airplay and the single charted poorly.

Sharks Don't Sleep was been released as the third single from Burdens but despite being a great song it also failed to make chart impact. A bonus sticker containing a studio shot of Tracy was included in the CD case for the Australian release. An extra track on this release is Iggy Pop's Lust For Life whose own version received airplay around the time as it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Trainspotting.

A live version of Navy Bean appeared on a tribute album to the deaths of employees at the Boston Brookline abortion clinic called Safe and Sound which contained tracks by other Boston including Letters to Cleo. Tracy's frequent show opener I Don't Want to Let You Go has not been released commercially.

The song Poor Boy also featured during her 1996 live shows but was written after the recording of Burdens and is also not commercially available. Another new song that has been played during Tracy's 1997 live dates is Itch.

The song Freed, an out-take from the Burdens sessions appears on the soundtrack of The Long Kiss Goodnight, an action movie starring Samuel Jackson and Gina Davis which has now been released on videotape and DVD. The song only appears during the closing credits and it is not on the soundtrack album but it has been performed live. A reworked version of the song will appear on the forthcoming album.

Other TB songs have featured in films including John Cusack's Grosse Point Blank (1997). The song Sharks Can't Sleep plays in the background during "The Hippo Room" scene of the movie and a Keifer Sutherland film features Navy Bean blaring out of the stereo of his convertable.

A radio promo CD entitled Royal Flush contains acoustic versions of The One and Mother Mother as well as songs by other artists such as Everclear, Our Lady Peace & Local H.

Tracy performed as part of the Lilith Fair tour from July 11 - 14 during 1997. The roster for the tour was composed of all female artists and was organised by Sarah McLachlan. A double album from this tour which contains a live version of The One was released in April 1998. Guitarist Phil Hurley quit the band following the tour.

Tracy has married to Steve Slingeneyer, the drummer from Belgian band Soul Wax with whom she toured in Holland. Tracy appears on their single My Cruel Joke.

On Monday, November 30 1998 WFNX had a huge invite-only birthday bash at Avalon on Lansdowne Street to celebrate 15 years as Boston's Real Alternative radio station with bands including Liz Phair & Tracy Bonham.