top of page

Bonnie & Clyde Were Musicians

In an article written by Ron Gibson, he shared research about Bonnie and Clyde. The notorious bank robbers were gunned down by a posse led by lawman, Frank hammer. Among all their belongings of shotguns, handguns, automatic rifles, ammunition and license plates, the posse found a "strange music fiddle" that miraculously survived the slaughter, undamaged. Historians have recently identified the mysterious instrument as a three-string Appalachian dulcimer!

Bonnie Parker was a well-documented, talented singer who was scheduled to star in a Broadway musical in 1933. However, because of her status as a wanted felon, she was unable to fulfill the terms of her contract. Interesting to note is that until recently it was not known that Bonnie Parker was also a talented and highly innovative dulcimer player. The Library of Congress discovered that the infamous couple were actually recorded by the famous folksong recorder, Ralph Peer. Her musical partner, Clyde, was the lead vocalist. The outstanding aspect about the three tracks that were recorded is that the only musical accompaniment is Bonnie’s three-string dulcimer, with an occasional harmonica break, done by Clyde. The recordings were soulful and captivating, but the remarkable dulcimer innovations of Bonnie Parker truly captured the listener’s attention.

Bonnie used her dulcimer as a drum, tapping out primal, percussive, intricate rhythms on the sound box, while singing harmony and playing very intricate counterpoint melodies with jazz style chord inversions. The famed musicologist Professor Herbert Nositall suggested that Bonnie’s playing is equal to the best work of great masters such as Beethoven or Mozart!

It is obvious that Bonnie, and to a lesser extent Clyde, were immensely talented musicians who could have easily earned a good living from their music, even during the depression. But for some reason, they turned to a life of crime. So, if there is a lesson to be learned from the life of Bonnie and Clyde, it is that if you focus on playing your dulcimer it may save you from a life of crime, serious time in prison, and subsequently being gunned down in a murderous, slaughtering, bloody hail of bullets. This is not a bad tradeoff for a few hours spent playing the dulcimer!

(Adaption of article written by Ron Gibson of Ron Gibson Mountain Dulcimers)

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page