Rockabilly Star Sonny Burgess Dies

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Sun Records artist Sonny Burgess, died on Friday, August 18, at a hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. The guitarist-vocalist, and member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, was 88. No cause of death was announced but Burgess had fallen at his home last month.

Burgess formed the Pacers in 1955 in Newport, Arkansas. The group had five singles on Sun Records: “Red Headed Woman,” “Thunderbird,” “Ain’t Got a Thing,” “Buckets Got a Hole In It” and “Sadies Back In Town” and played clubs, festivals, shows, and colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The rock and roll pioneers are said to have traveled with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Danny and the Juniors, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Hawkins, Billy Lee Riley, Ace Cannon, Charlie Rich and more. The group was inducted in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2002.

Watch Burgess perform “Ain’t Got a Thing”

According to his profile on the Rockabilly Hall website, “Burgess’ performances combined the country sounds of the white South with the R&B, blues and shout gospel sounds of the black community. This band combined the frenetic energies of black and white forms of jive-talking, duck-walking and climb-the-wall Southern music.”

Decades later, Burgess toured with a group of former session musicians known as the Sun Rhythm Section. Among the band members was drummer D.J. Fontana, a longtime member of Elvis Presley’s band. Burgess was proud to wear his Sun Records cap onstage.

Related Current and future classic rock tours

Though chart success eluded Burgess, he had the respect of his peers and later generations.

Watch him perform “Red Headed Woman” decades later with the Blasters

Burgess recorded a previously unreleased Bruce Springsteen song, “Tiger Rose,” on an album produced by E Street Band member Garry Tallent. Watch The Boss join Burgess on stage to perform the song

Burgess was born in Newport, AR, on May 28, 1929.

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