Muddy Roots News
  • 08.19.17

    R.I.P. Sonny Burgess: From Sun to Muddy Roots Records

    At 9:30 Friday night Sonny Burgess died in Baptist hospital where he had been since falling in July. We had always considered it an honor to work with Sonny. He started his career on Sun Records and ended it over 60 years later with Muddy Roots Records. The men and women of that era literally created rock n roll. They are pillars in our music community who we cherish. We spoke to long time band mate Bobby Crafford and he told us Sonny had a message for us. Sonny Burgess wanted you to know He loved all of you and God Bless Rockabilly!
    Sonny Burgess Sun Records

    More words from Bobby:
    *“He was our friend and leader for 62 years.
    The Band will carry on with out him, but he will really be missed
    He last played on July 15 and fell the following week at his home in Little Rock, where he lived with his Son.
    We will keep Rockin in his honor, long live Rock and Roll” – Bobby Crafford*

    At this time there are no announced plans for a service. We’ll update you with news from the family.

    Sonny Burgess Nashville Boogie

    Don’t know much about Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers? Oh boy, you should. We dug up one of our original press pieces on him. The dude was ROCKIN!
    Sonny Burgess Muddy Roots

    _Legendary Sun Records Rocker Sonny Burgess Unleashes His New Album on Muddy Roots Records

    In 1956, Sonny Burgess & the Pacers were just one of many rockin’ acts seeking to follow in the footsteps of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Under the guidance of producer Sam Phillips, they brought a new sound rumbling forth from the tiny Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The mixture of hillbilly and blues that became known as rockabilly would smash genre walls and change the sound of pop music around the world.

    While many made the pilgrimage to Memphis, few succeeded in actually having a record released on the eye-popping and ear-opening Sun Records label. Arkansas native Sonny Burgess was one of the privileged few when his double-sided raucous rockabilly blast, “We Wanna Boogie”/”Red Headed Woman,” hit the record racks and jukeboxes in September 1956. A huge regional hit, it was a perfect snapshot of the band that many regarded as one the wildest and most dynamic acts to ever blaze a trail through the honky tonks and dive bars of West Tennessee, Arkansas and the surrounding states. Their four follow-up singles on Sun also provided ample confirmation of their rock’n’roll pioneer pedigree.

    Sixty years later, Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers are still rockin’ the house with their energetic rockabilly, rhythm and blues sound on Ain’t Got No Home, their new release on Muddy Roots Records. The big 12-inch record contains a dozen classic tunes drawn from their six decades of wild live shows and performances at rockabilly festivals around the world.

    Considered one of the most R&B-influenced of the original crop of rockabilly cats, Burgess delivers his unique interpretations of 11 classic R&B, country and rock’n’roll tunes. Stand-outs include Larry Williams’ runaway rocker “Slow Down,” a tasty country-fried take on soul shaker “Mustang Sally,” a slice of boppin’ boogie with Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia,” and a rip-roaring rockabilly run-through of Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.”

    The album also features “Tiger Rose.” Written for Burgess by Bruce Springsteen, this rockabilly rampage features Springsteen on guitar along with E Street Band bassist Gary Tallent and famed session drummer Roy Husky, Jr. supplying the rhythm. “Tiger Rose” originally appeared on Sonny Burgess’ 1996 self-titled album for Rounder Records, and is now making its vinyl debut.

    Ain’t Got No Home was recorded at the Raney Recording Studios in Drasco, Arkansas. Owned by Zyndall Raney, the son of famed hillbilly harmonica player Wayne Raney (“Blues Stay Away from Me” and “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me”), the studio has long been a favorite for Arkansas musicians with its roots reaching all the way back to the Sun Records era of the late 1950s.

    - Randy Fox_