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Sonny James
and The Southern Gentlemen
Born:  May 1, 1929
Alabama Music Hall of Fame (1987)
Country Music Hall of Fame (2006)
KRLD Big D Jamboree
KWKH Louisiana Hayride
WFAA Saturday Night Shindig
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WAPI Birmingham, AL

Sonny James is a native of Hackleburg, Alabama. He came from a musical family; his father, mother and sister were all musicians. By the time he was just four years old, he was one of the featured members at their engagements, both on the radio and at personal appearances.

These first performances were usually duets with his sister. It was doing these early performances that the audiences started calling him Sonny. And that name stuck with him throughout his career.

His first full-time radio job was with radio station WAPI in Birmingham, Alabama in 1934. He and his family won an audition or contest against 52 other string bands for a position on the station. Keep in mind, he was only five years old at that time.When he was just seven years old, he took his dad's place on the fiddle. And while still a youngster, he had three Tri-State and two Mid-South fiddling championships under his belt, too.

Sonny had a hit record called "That's Me Without You" and it was ranked third in popularity in the country they wrote. A big band leader by the name of Guy Lombardo must have liked what he heard of that song, for he and his band also did a recording of it.

In the spring of 1948, the family act broke up when Sonny was inducted into the military service. He was discharged from the service in 1952. But while there, he earned the Merit Unit Commendation; Distinguished Unit Citation, Korean Service medal and three campaign stars. After his discharge, Capitol records signed him to a recording contract.

From there he went to Shreveport, Louisiana where he appeared on the famed Louisiana Hayride over KWKH. From there, his career took him to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and to WFAA. He had his own show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00am and was also appearing on the Saturday night show, the "Shindig".

In mid-1955 or so, we find that he was also a part of the "All-Star Country Roadshow" that aired over WBAP in Ft. Worth, Texas at the time. He was said to have his own show on the station, too.

Sonny had a bit of a distinctive vocal style if you listen to his records and singing. He told Cowboy Songs in an interview in 1954, that the 'emotional catch or break' in his voice was "...that grasshopper in my throat."

Sonny as mentioned was a master of the fiddle and also played the guitar. In addition to being a musician, he was also a songwriter and wrote many of his own tunes.

Later, he became a star on the Big D Jamboree and the Red Foley show out of Springfield, Missouri - the Ozark Jubilee.

He enjoyed a long, distinguished, hit-filled recording career with the Capitol records label. Later, he signed with the Columbia label that caused a stir at the time of his signing.

Stay tuned as we add to this singer's biography.

Credits & Sources

  • Cowboy Songs No. 31; January-February 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country and Western Jamboree; August 1955; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Country and Western Jamboree; April 1956; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL

Sound Sample—(RealAudio Format)
She Done Giver Her Heart To Me

Appearance History This Month

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Recordings
 
Capitol
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  16649 A First Date, First Kiss, First Love
  16649 B Speak To Me
  2067 A An Old Sweetheart of Mine
  2067 B A World of Our Own
  2155 A Heaven Says Hello
  2155 A Heaven Says Hello
  2155 B Fairy Tales
  2155 B Fairy Tales
  2164 A It's So Nice To Makeup
  2164 B Shortcut
  2259 A Cold, Cold And Colder
  2259 B That's Me Without You
  2271 A Born To Be With You
  2271 B In Waikiki
  2370 A Only The Lonely
  2370 B The Journey
  2399 A The One I Can't Forget
  2399 B Somebody Else's Heartache
  2486 A Running Bear
  2486 B A Midnight Mood
  2508 A Poor Boy, Rich Lovin'
  2508 B I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
  2595 A Since I Met You Baby
  2595 B Clinging To A Hope
  2641 A My Greatest Thrill
  2641 B Won't Somebody Tell Me
  2700 A It's Just a Matter of Time
  2700 B This World of Ours
  2734 A That's How I Need You
  2734 B I've Always Wanted You
  2782 A Blue For You
  2782 B My Love
  2829 A The Table Next To Mine
  2829 B Believe Another's Lips
  2834 A Don't Keep Me Hangin' On
  2834 B Woodbine Valley
  2906 A She Done Giver Her Heart To Me
  2906 B Oceans Of Tears (I've Shed For You)
  2914 A Endlessly
  2914 B Happy Memories
  2958 A Christmas In My Own Home Town
  2958 B I Forgot To Remember Santa
  3015 A Empty Arms
  3015 B Everything Begins And Ends With You
  3114 A Bright Lights, Big City
  3114 B True Love Lasts Forever
  3163 A 'Til The Last Leaf Shall Fall
  3163 B You Don't Have To Walk Alone
  3174 A Here Comes Honey Again
  3174 B The Only Ones We Truly Hurt (Are The Ones We Truly Love)
  3198 A Let's Go Bunny Huggin'
  3198 B Too Much
  3232 A Only Love Can Break A Heart
  3232 B He Has Walked This Way
  3322 A That's Why I Love You Like I Do
  3322 B Still Water Runds Deep
  3357 A For Rent (One Empty Heart)
  3357 B My Stolen Love
  3398 A I'm in Love With You
  3398 B Traces
  3441 A All Mixed Up
  3441 B Twenty Feet Of Muddy Water
  3475 A Downfall Of Me
  3475 B Runnin'
  3542 A Hello, Old Broken Heart
  3542 B The Cat Came Back
  3564 A Just Keep Thinking Of You
  3564 B Reach Out Your Hand And Touch Me
  3602 A Young Love
  3602 B You're The Reason I'm In Love
  3653 A Heaven On Earth
  3653 B She Believes In Me
  3674 A First Date, First Kiss, First Love
  3674 B Speak To Me
  3734 A Dear Love
  3734 A Lovesick Blues
  3734 B Dear Love
  3734 B Lovesick Blues
  3779 A Surprise, Surprise
  3779 B What Am I Living For/
  3792 A (Love Came, Love Saw) Love Conquered
  3792 B A Mighty Lovable Man
  3840 A Uh-Huh-Mm
  3840 B Why Can't They Remember?
  3888 A Kathaleen
  3888 B Walk To The Dance
  3962 A Are You Mine
  3962 B Let's Play Love
  4020 A I Can See It In Your Eyes
  4020 B You Got The Touch
  4066 A I Can't Stay Away From You
  4066 B Let Me Be The One To Love You
  4127 A Dream Big
  4127 B Yo-Yo
  4178 A Talk Of The School
  4178 B The Table
  4229 A Pure Love
  4229 B This Love Of Mine
  4268 A Who's Next In Line
  4268 A Red Mud
  4268 B Who's Next in Line
  4268 B Red Mud
  4307 A I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
  4307 B Til Tomorrow
  4969 A Gold And Silver
  4969 B The Minute You're Gone
  5057 A Bad Day's A'Comin'
  5057 B Going Through The Motions (Of Living)
  5280 A You're The Only World I Know
  5280 B Tying The Pieces Together
  5375 A I'll Keep Holding On
  5375 B I'm Getting Gray From Being Blue
  5454 A Behind The Tear
  5454 B Runnin'
  5536 A True Love's A Blessing
  5536 B Just Ask Your Heart
  5690 A How Many Times Can A Man Be A Fool
  5690 B Room In Your Heart
  5733 A Barefoot Santa Claus
  5733 A Barefoot Santa Claus
  5733 B My Christmas Dream
  5733 B My Christmas Dream
  5833 A Need You
  5833 B On and On
  5914 A I'll Never Find Another You
  5914 B Goodbye, Maggie, Goodbye
  5987 A It's the Little Things
  5987 B Don't Cut Timber on a Windy Day
  6116 A Behind The Tear
  6116 B I'll Follow You
 
Columbia
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  10072 A A Little Bit South Of Saskatoon
  10072 A A Little Bit South Of Sasketoon
  10072 B Home Style Lovin'
  10121 A Little Band Of Gold
  10121 A A Little Band Of gold
  10121 B Pop And Me
  10121 B Pop and Me
  10139 A Maria Elena
  10139 B Indian Love Call
  10184 A What In The World's Come Over You
  10184 A What In the World's Come Over You
  10184 B Walking The Railroad Trestle
  10184 B Walking The Railroad Trestle
  10249 A Eres Tu (Touch The Wind)
  10249 A Apache
  10249 B Apache
  10249 B Eres Tu (Touch The Wind)
  10276 A The Prisoner's Song
  10276 B Back In The Saddle Again
  10335 A When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
  10335 A Big Silver Bird
  10335 B Big Silveer Bird
  10335 B When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
  10466 A You're Free To Go
  10466 A You're Free To Go
  10466 B Puttin' On the Dog Tonight
  10466 B Puttin' On The Dog Tonight
  10551 A In The Jailhouse Now
  10551 A In the Jailhouse Now
  10551 B Amazing Grace
  10628 A Abilene
  10628 B Pistol Packing Mama
  3-10001 A A Mi Esposa Con Amor
  3-10001 B Just Don't Stop Lovin' Me
  3-10392 A Come On In
  3-10392 B Come On In
  3-10628 A Abilene
  3-10628 B same
  3-10703 A This is the Love
  3-10703 B This is the Love
  3-10764 A Caribbean
  3-10764 B Caribbean
  4-46003 A Is It Wrong
  4-46003 B Suddenly There's a Valley
  45644 A Love Is A Rainbow
  45644 B When the Snow Is On The Roses
  45706 A Why Was It I'm the Last to Know
  45706 B White Silver Sands
  45770 A Think About That Tomorrow
  45770 B Love You More and More Everyday
  45871 A I Won't Think About It Now
  45871 B If She Just Helps Me Get Over You
  46003 A Suddenly There's A Valley
  46003 B Is It Wrong (For Loving You)
 
Dimension
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  DS 1040 A The Fool in Me
  DS 1040 B The Fool in Me
 
Dot
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  45-16381 A A Mile And A Quarter
  45-16381 B Just One More Lie
  45-1641 A On the Longest Day
  45-1641 B The Only Cure
 
NRC
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  050 A Jenny Lou
  050 B Passin' Through
  056 A Wondering
  056 B Gold In The Morning Sun
  061 A Bimbo
  061 B I Wish This Night Would Never End
 
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  47-'7998 A (The Legend Of) Brown Mountain Light
  47-'7998 B The Day's Not Over Yet
  47-7858 A Apache
  47-7858 B Magnetism
  47-7919 A Hey Little Ducky
  47-7919 B Innocent Angel
 
Sparton
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  882 A Jenny Lou
  882 B Passin' Through
  925 A Gold In The Morning Sun
  925 B Wondering
  958 A Bimbo
  958 B I Wish This Night Would Never End


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