Thursday, May 09, 2019

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Happy Birthday, Sonny Curtis

Buddy Holly with Sonny Curtis in the mid 1950s

Happy birthday to one of the finest songwriters ever to emerge from Lubbock, Texas, He's 82 years old today.

Happy birthday. Sonny!

From the bio on his website:

Sonny was born in a dugout about seven miles east of Meadow, Texas in 1937. He was the second youngest of six children born to struggling cotton farmers during the devastating Dust Bowl era.

In the Curtis family, music was a way of life. And in Meadow, it was the main source of entertainment. When he was a boy, Sonny and his family would gather with neighbors for "musical Saturday nights," where anyone who played an instrument could join in the fun. 

Sonny learned to play before his fingers could reach across the neck of the guitar; he just played on the four high strings. He joined his older brothers, Pete and Dean, to pick at local radio stations, jamborees, and other events.

When he reached his teens, Sonny"s friends and contemporaries were fellow musicians Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, and future Crickets (J. I. Allison, Joe B. Mauldin, and Glen D. Hardin.) While he was still in high school, Dave Stone, a local promoter, frequently used him on bills that included the young Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, and other stars of the day. 

Before Buddy Holly started The Crickets, his band was The Three Tunes, in which Sonny played lead guitar. In 1956, Sonny accompanied Holly and bassist Don Guess to Nashville for Holly's first recording sessions. (Petty Studios in Clovis, N.M. came later.) Sonny played lead guitar on several tunes including  "Blue Days, Black Nights," "Midnight Shift," and the first song Sonny wrote to ever be recorded, "Rock Around With Ollie Vee."

It indeed was a rocker:

Another early Sonny original was recorded by country star Webb Pierce. This almost sounds like hillbilly doo-wop.

Sonny had joined The Crickets shortly before Buddy died, The Crickets tried to go on with Sonny as singer. During that time, Sonny wrote this little outlaw tune which later would be a major hit for The Bobby Fuller Four (and years later, The Clash).

The post-Holly Crickets' time was cut short when Sonny got drafted. While serving in the Army he wrote this song which turned out to be a huge hit for The Everly Brothers. The version below features Sonny playing with fellow Texan Nanci Griffith.

In the early days of Beatlemania, old Cricket Sonny declared he wanted to be a Beatle in this forgotten novelty tune. (The irony here is that The Beatles have always said their name was inspired by The Crickets.)

And in the early '70s Sonny wrote and sang the theme song a popular TV sitcom. (But I like Husker Du's version the best)

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