Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Country Music Hall of Famer Sonny James dies aged 87

(22 Feb 2016) Country Music Hall of Famer Sonny James dies aged 87

This Blog feature takes a look at his career, chart hits, awards, music and artist tributes.

Marie Crichton BBC Radio Shropshire plays:
8 Aug 2005 Sonny James - Bimbo | Album: The Nashville Dream Vol 2 (Newsound)
30 April 2007 Sonny James - Blue Moon Of Kentucky | Album: CD The Sound Of Bluegrass (Various Label Columbia)
28 April 2008 Sonny James - Bimbo (Birth May 1 "James Loden")
27 April 2009 Sonny James - Blue Moon of Kentucky
25 April 2011 Sonny James - Ask Marie | Album: The Capitol Collector’s Series   
30 April 2012 Sonny James Pure Love  | Album: Young Love & Other Rock ‘N’ Roll Ballads 
27 April 2013 Sonny James - True Love's A Blessing | Album: Capitol Collectors Series

Sonny James: May 1, 1928 (Hackleburg, Alabama, U.S.) - Feb 22, 2016 (aged 87; Tennessee)
Years active: 1953–1983 | Labels: Capitol, Columbia, Dot, RCA, Monument, Dimension, Curb
Nashville’s Tennessean reported (Feb 22) that Country Music Hall Of Famer Sonny James had died on Monday afternoon (Feb 22, 2016). Mr.James was 87.
Recently hospitalized, James passed away from natural causes while surrounded by family and friends at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.

Throughout his life he has stood always at the ready to share a funny story. Accompanied by his boyish smile, this man of deep faith never failed to cultivate his unique gift of making every friend feel as if they were his greatest friend every step of the way.

A native of Alabama, James grew up playing fiddle and guitar with his family, guesting on radio stations and local festivals throughout the South.
After finishing Military service in the early 50s, Sonny was introduced to Chet Atkins, who steered him toward a recording contract with Capitol Records.
In 1956, James’ signature hit, “Young Love,” spent nine weeks atop the Country charts, eventually crossing over to Pop.
Television and film appearances followed, as did membership to the Grand Ole Opry and a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Mr. James hosted the first-ever CMA AWARDS in 1967, and the hits kept coming.

Between 1967 and 1971, he put together a string of 16 consecutive chart-toppers.
Mr. James was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2006.
Introduced by Kris Kristofferson as one of the new inductees, it marked Sonny’s first television appearance in 20 years.

May 6th, 2007 Medallion Ceremony: A Musical Tribute To Sonny James
Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees: Sonny James(L),
George Strait, Harold Bradley(R)-Ceremony 6thMay2007

"A World of Our Own": Connie Smith, vocals. Dann Huff, acoustic guitar
"You’re the Only World I Know": Randy Owen, vocals.
"Young Love": Vince Gill, vocals & guitar.
"Running Bear": Ray Stevens, vocals. With Special Appearance by George Lindsey.
All Performances featuring the Southern Gentlemen: Lin Bown • Jack Galloway • Glenn Huggins • Gary Robble
See Photos Sonny James.com

James Loden, known as Sonny James, was born in Hackleburg, Alabama, on May 1, 1928.
As Kix Brooks said in 2006, the year Mr. James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the singer was “an artist who really dominated his time in history.”
According to The Tennessean, he began performing with his family when he was just 3, playing a handmade mandolin.
He later learned to play the guitar and fiddle, and was a fiddle champion as a teen.
The family would perform on local radio stations and in schoolhouses around the South.
He served in the Alabama National Guard and was sent to Korea in 1950, where he began to write songs.
After leaving the Army, James moved to Nashville and began to pursue a career in music.
Sonny James began recording music in 1952 and his breakthrough song, “Young Love,” came in 1957, according to his website.

With its polished production and crooning vocals, “Young Love” would help open the door for the Nashville sound of the late 1950s and 1960s.

The Career of Sonny James
Seemingly born with a natural talent for playing stringed instruments it would be at the age of four, when placed at the centerpiece of his family's country show, where he first began to realize his potential to entertain others.
·         Because he was just a kid he was called “Sonny Boy” but by 1952 when he signed with Capitol Records this six-foot three-inch talent was re-billed as The Southern Gentleman, a tag that portrayed his polite ways.
·     In 1956 as rock n roll was just beginning Sonny's multi-million selling Young Love exploded on the scene and became a simultaneous #1 country and pop hit - the first such traditional country cross-over of its kind.
·    By 1963 a collaboration at Capitol Studios in Hollywood with Nat King Cole, a favorite of Sonny and his father, would begin to focus Sonny's musical approach into a more pop-sounding style of country in the hopes of broadening the country listening audience.
·    Beginning in 1964 with his musical style refined, and his “sound” produced to be identifiable, Sonny began what would become his legendary streak of 16 consecutive #1 releases - an uncontested record which no other recording artist (solo) has ever surpassed in any genre.
·    A decade later, Sonny James had amassed not only 16 #1's in a row, but a surreal 26 #1's in total and 72 titles on the country charts.
·    Sonny's broad appeal not only as a performer, but an entertainer, brought him into larger and larger markets and venues as he created new paths for others to follow which had not previously been welcoming to country artists in general, including his numerous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
·   Always an integral part of his sound and style, his mastery of the guitar as a musician added a depth to his recordings and stage appeal which translated perfectly to television.
·    His full vocal tones backed by his “Southern Gentlemen” created a sound that was awarded time after time with great success.
·     The first country recording artist on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, his hits such as "The Minute You’re Gone", "You’re The Only World I Know", "It's Just A Matter Of Time", "Running Bear", "Empty Arms" and so many more - make it easy to realize that at the same time when the world was listening to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones on rock radio, they were hearing and listening to Sonny James on country radio.
·   Within pop-culture, the movie Apollo 13 may have depicted the legendary music of Hank Williams on a moon flight, but it was actually a musical program requested by NASA to be recorded personally by Sonny James which became the first country artist to travel into space and go as far as our moon's orbit on-board Apollo 14, which launched January 31st, 1971.
·    Immediately following his string of #1's, Sonny then went on to produce the first 3 albums for Marie Osmond, which saw the first single, Paper Roses, surpass sales of 1 million worldwide and Marie nominated for a Grammy Award.

Sonny James first No.1 hits (Hot Country Songs):

"Young Love" (1956; writers Ric Cartey, Carole Joyner) 
Also #1 on all genre US Hot 100.

Note: It peaked at #11 in the UK chart dated March 8, 1957 when at the time American actor and singer Tab Hunter was No.1 on UK single chart with the song. 
The Tab Hunter Show was a huge hit in the United Kingdom, where it ranked as one of the top situation comedies of the year. 

Donny Osmond also had a #1 UK Single with the song in 1973.

"You're the Only World I Know" (1964; writers Sonny James and Robert Tubert) #91 US Hot 100
"Behind the Tear" (1965; writers Ned Miller, Sue Miller) #113 US Hot 100

Sonny James sixteen consecutive No.1 songs were:
Need You” (1967; writer Johnny Blackburn, Lou Porter, Teepee Mitchell),
I’ll Never Find Another You” (1967; writer Tom Springfield)
It’s The Little Things” (1967; writer Arlie Duff)
A World Of Our Own” (1968; writer Tom Springfield) an international hit for The Seekers
Heaven Says Hello” (1968; writer Cindy Walker)
Born To Be With You” (1968; writer Don Robertson)
Only the Lonely” (1969; writers Roy Orbison, Joe Melson)
Running Bear” (1969; writer J. P. Richardson)
Since I Met You, Baby” (1969; writer Ivory Joe Hunter)
It’s Just a Matter of Time” (1970; writers Brook Benton, Clyde Otis)
My Love” (1970; writer Tony Hatch)
Don’t Keep Me Hangin’ On” (1970; writers Sonny James, Carole Smith)
Endlessly” (1970; writers Brook Benton, Clyde Otis)
Empty Arms” (1971; writer Ivory Joe Hunter)
Bright Lights, Big City” (1971; writer Jimmy Reed)
Here Comes Honey Again” (1971; writer Sonny James)

The string of 16 consecutive (non-holiday) single releases would be surpassed in 1985 by the country super-group Alabama; the band would go on to have 21 No.1 songs in a row.
Earl Thomas Conley and Blake Shelton also have sixteen No.1 winning streaks.

** Billboard statistician disregard all non-No.1 duets, B-side releases that chart on their own and Christmas releases in determining No. 1 streaks
If Christmas songs and duets were to be included in No.1 streaks, however, Sonny James would continue to hold the standard with 16.

Alabama's streak would be eight and 13 (with the 1982 Christmas song "Christmas in Dixie" splitting the pair of streaks)

Earl Conley's streak split into nine and seven (broken up by the 1986 duet "Too Many Times" with Anita Pointer),

Blake Shelton’s run is split starting with "Hillbilly Bone" (featuring Trace Adkins) then "Boys 'Round Here" (feat. Pistol Annies and friends), "My Eyes" (featuring Gwen Sebastian) and "Lonely Tonight" (featuring Ashley Monroe)

"Is It Wrong (For Loving You)" writer Warner MacPherson; was the final of Mr. James' twenty-three number ones on the country chart.

Twenty-one of his Albums reached the country top ten from 1964 to 1976.
His No1. Billboard Top Country Albums were: studio album NEED YOU released in April 1967 and with Compilation album The Best of Sonny James released in Nov 1966 (#141 Billboard 200)
200 Years of Country Music (#6, 1976, Columbia Records) was his final Top 10 studio album.
His last album to chart was YOUNG LOVE (Capitol Records), released in 1973, which reached #50 on Top Country Albums

Capitol Collectors Series: Amazon UK

Sonny James retired from the music industry in 1984 with his wife, Doris Shrode. He and his wife married in 1957 in Texas.
Sonny James is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Doris.

Discography: Amazon UK | UK iTunes | Amazon.com | Spotify

Sonny James - The Southern Gentleman: The First Four Albums 1957-1959 [2xCD] (Jasmine Records)
The Southern Gentleman features four classic albums of pure country: The Southern Gentleman; Sonny; Honey & The Sonny Sidetogether for the first time on CD outside of multidisc box sets.
Available from Amazon UK | Smart Choice Music

Sonny James - Sonny Rocks (Bear Family Records)
Sonny Rocks is a 2003 Bear Family release covering 33 Capitol and RCA tracks from Sonny James, the 'Southern Gentleman' of country.
Details: 1-CD Digi-Pac (6-plated) with 32-page booklet, 34 tracks, playing time 76:27 minutes.
These 33 songs catch Sonny James’ transition from journeyman country singer to pop star. We begin with a few early songs that pointed towards Young Love (including For Rent and Twenty Feet Of Muddy Water), then Sonny James’s great original version of Young Love itself, and then a selection of the very best Capitol and RCA recordings from the golden years, including "First Date First Kiss First Love", "Uh-Huh Mm", "Talk Of The School", and Sonny James' great vocal version of the Shadows’ "Apache". As a special bonus the original version of "Young Love" by Ric Cartey is included. Dave Samuelson’s notes draw on extended interviews with Sonny James, and recount the song-by-song journey of one of the towering figures of pop and country music! Available from:

Sonny James - Young Love (6-CD) [6-CD-Box & 68-Page Book] (Import)

This boxed set presents every surviving recording 'The Southern Gentleman' made between 1952 and 1962, across six compact discs. The first two discs feature Sonny James' rarely heard country sides, including the original “I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know” and such chart singles as “That's Me Without You”, “She Done Give Her Heart To Me, For Rent” (One Empty Heart), “Twenty Feet Of Muddy Water”, and “The Cat Came Back”. The heart of the box set collects such teen pop sides as “Young Love”, “You're The Reason I'm In Love”, “First Date, First Kiss, First Love”, “Uh-Huh-mm”, “You’ve Got That Touch”, and “Talk Of The School”, plus all three of Sonny James' original Capitol albums. The set ends with the singer's often-overlooked NRC, RCA Victor and Dot sides, including Jenny Lou and his vocal version of the guitar standard, “Apache”.
Produced with Sonny James' cooperation, this collection includes a 68-page book by Dave Samuelson covering Sonny James' early years on radio with the Loden Family through his 1963 return to Capitol Records.



Charlie Daniels: The music world has lost a great artist and a good Christian man Rest in peace Sonny James

The Oak Ridge Boys RIP Sonny James... A big loss

Rhonda Vincent: (pictured) So saddened to hear of passing of country music HOF member Sonny James born 5/1/1929 he hosted 1st #CMA awards
Travis Tritt Very sorry to hear that Sonny James has died. I covered his "Christmas In My Hometown" for my Christmas album

Taste of Country: We are so sad to hear that Sonny James has died at 87:
Grass Roots Promotions: We are saddened at the news of the passing of country music legend Sonny James. His incredible career included 16 #1 singles in the 60's and 70's; James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He was a class act and will be missed.
Marie Osmond tweeted a photo

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