Ponty Bone was accordion master, key member of Joe Ely Band
Ponty Bone, one of Texas’ best-known accordion players for decades and a key member of the Joe Ely Band during the 1970s and ’80s, died early Friday. He was 78 and had been diagnosed two years ago with a rare neurodegenerative disease.
Born Harry DePonta Bone on Oct. 9, 1939, young Ponty began taking accordion lessons at age 5 in San Antonio. After graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1957, he headed to Lubbock to study architecture and art at Texas Tech. In 1962 he married Sarah Wade of Lubbock; they had twins, Rachel and Samara, in 1964.
That same year, Bone met Jimmie Dale Gilmore at a party, presaging Bone’s long association with some of Lubbock’s most renowned musicians. Bone and his family moved to Phoenix in 1965 and started a band called New Moan Hey, but they also kept in touch with Gilmore and his pals, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, who’d stop in Phoenix to visit en route to California in the late 1960s.
Bone and his family moved back to Texas in 1971, settling in Slaton just southeast of Lubbock. He almost ended up in Austin then; in an interview with Chris Oglesby on the Virtual Lubbock website, Bone said he almost joined the blues band the Storm with Jimmie Vaughan and Lewis Cowdrey but instead got a surveying job in Lubbock and decided to stay.
The house in Slaton became a hot jam-session hub for Lubbock musicians. “We used to go over to his house and bring our friends and play music all night,” Ely recalled Friday. Bone also began to play regularly at Lubbock’s famed Cotton Club with Tommy Hancock’s Supernatural Family Band.
When Ely got a record deal with MCA a few years later, he asked Bone to join his band. Bone played on Ely’s first four solo records and toured the world with him; journal entries on Bone’s website pro-
Ponty Bone moved to Austin with the Joe Ely Band in 1980 and debuted Ponty Bone & the Squeezetones in 1982.