Bunny Paul was born in Detroit, Michigan, where she first gained regional stardom—she was also very popular in neighboring Windsor, Ontario—frequenting clubs from a young age. In her papers, which reside in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s archives, there’s a photo of Paul standing below the marquee of a venue called the Peoria Room, which reads “Bunny Paul Vocalist Extraordinary.” Written at the bottom of the photo in her hand: “My first job without a band, 20 years old.”
Paul was also a songwriter, with at least 26 publishing credits to her name. Her debut single, on the Dot label in 1953, included one of her songs: “Never Let Me Go.” In 1956 she told her hometown paper that she liked to sing ballads but: “they don’t sell for me… I was one of the first to do Rock ’n Roll on a record called ‘Such a Night’  It was a milder form of Rock ’n Roll, which hadn’t been accepted then. The record sold more than 500,000 copies until it was banned.” The song, which had also been recorded by the Drifters and Johnny Ray, had been prohibited by management at several radio stations for being too suggestive. Paul doesn’t seem to have been deterred: many of her recordings throughout the fifties were, like “Such a Night,” big-band influenced tracks with racy lyrics delivered with a lot of verve. As a result, her singles were included on rock and roll compilation albums from 1958 to the present.
A brain tumor in 1960 left Paul’s face partially paralyzed. When she recovered sufficiently to record again, she cut a few sides at Motown that were released on the Gordy imprint in 1963. She largely retired from music after that. Paul continued to live in the Detroit area until she passed away in 2014.
“Magic Guitar” / “Never Let Me Go.” Dot 15107 (1953).
“Please Have Mercy” / “The Things We’ll Share.” Capitol CL14279 (1955).
“Two Castanets” / “Leave My Heart Alone.” Capitol CL14304 (1955).
Rock And Roll Dance Party [compilation with Bill Haley and His Comets and the Dinning Sisters]. Somerset EX-1300 (1958).
“I’m Hooked” / “We’re Only Young Once.” Gordy G-7017 (28 May 1963).