Rockabilly singer and guitarist Sonny Burgess died late Friday, August 18th, at
In the summer of 2015, Burgess, then 86, stole the show when he participated in a Sam Phillips tribute concert at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in
“I always heard my dad say that Sonny was one of the outstanding guys he worked with,” Jerry Phillips, son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips told the Commercial Appeal in
Albert “Sonny” Burgess was born into a cotton-farming family in
Sun Records historian Colin Escott would later say of the “Red-Headed Woman”/”We Wanna Boogie” recording, “It was punk before punk, thrash before thrash.” Although none of the group’s handful of Sun singles were significant hits, Burgess looked back on the experience with fondness, acknowledging that it was difficult to duplicate their frenetic stage show on record.
Burgess and the Pacers toured throughout the Sixties, often with fellow Sun alums Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. He would go on to tour as a member of Conway Twitty’s band for a time before eventually scaling back his touring and playing around Arkansas with the group Kings IV. By 1970, Burgess had traded the music business for a day job as a traveling salesman. But he would join a group of Sun veterans, including D.J. Fontana, “Smoochie” Smith, Paul Burlison and Stan Kesler, playing as the Sun Rhythm Section.
In the Nineties, Burgess recorded a pair of albums that exposed him to a whole new audience. Tennessee Border, for Hightone Records, paired him with former Blasters frontman Dave Alvin, in 1992. Four years later, Rounder Records released a self-titled disc produced by the E Street Band’s Garry Tallent, and featuring a previously unreleased Bruce Springsteen tune, “Tiger Rose.” Burgess also reunited late in Nineties with the Pacers, touring throughout the world for the next decade. Sonny Burgess and the Pacers are members of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of