She raised cattle and quarter horses in Sumner, Washington with her second husband, Mario DiPiano, whom she married in 1969. He died in 1983. She co-founded the record company Dolton Records in the late 1950s, that launched the careers of The Fleetwoods and The Ventures. In 1960 she left Dolton and became part owner of Jerden Records. She was married to musician and inventor Paul Tutmarc.
Born in 1923 in Seattle, Washington to John and Doris Buckingham, Bonnie was initially raised in Redondo Beach along Puget Sound. Later, the family (including her five siblings) moved inland to a farm just outside the rural town of Auburn. She began performing at age 16, having taken up playing the guitar as a teenager, which led to her stage name, Bonnie Guitar. She later started songwriting. In 1944 she married her former guitar teacher Paul Tutmarc; the couple had one daughter, Paula (born 1950), but split up in 1955, and Bonnie moved to Los Angeles. Through much of the 1950s, she worked as a session guitarist at quite a few small labels, like Abbot, Fabor, and also Radio Recorders.
Working at these places got Guitar noticed as a professional guitarist as she ended up playing on sessions for many well-known singers, like Jim Reeves, Dorsey Burnette, Ned Miller, and the DeCastro Sisters. After working with so many singers, she acquired her own singing aspirations herself and a desire to make her very own recording career in the process.
Following the release of her first single, "If You See My Love Dancing" on Fabor Records, Bonnie heard a demo of "Dark Moon" from Fabor's owner, Fabor Robinson, a tune written by Ned Miller, with whom she worked as a session guitarist. Robinson was dissatisfied with how Dorsey Burnette sang a version of it and offered it to Guitar. "I said, 'I'll give up my royalties and everything just to do this song,'" she told Robinson in recounting their collaboration on "Dark Moon" to Wayne Jancik in The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. "I knew it was up for grabs and somebody was gonna get it. I got it, but he took me at my word, and I really did give up my royalties. It was one of the hardest things I ever put together. Ned wrote it, but we tried in maybe five or six different ways in different studios before it came out right." The final version consisted of just two guitars and a bass backing Bonnie.
The song was originally issued under Fabor Records in 1956. "Dark Moon" was then issued over to Dot Records and by the spring of 1957, "Dark Moon" hit the pop top 10 list and went into the country top 15 list. Guitar officially had a hit.