Friday, May 6, 2011

Sonny Burgess and the Pacers

Sonny Burgess

This Newport, Arkansas performer was on the Sun label in 1955. They put out a tune called "We wanna boogie" but did not get the kind of attention Elvis and others were able to garner. Some folks say a lack of label "attention" cost Sonny Burgess his shot at the big time. I don't know. 

     Web site        Info link      "Wanna boogie" video

The Pacers and Sonny played as a semi house band at a local honky tonk in Newport. It was a neighboring town to where I grew up. The Silver Moon Club was known to be a Friday and Saturday night regional meeting spot. 

Sonny Burgess pr photo

Sonny was playing in the biggest beer joint in several counties because Newport was in the only "wet" county around. If folks wanted to drink a few beers and dance a little rock and roll the "Moon" was the place to be.

video medley

There was that little problem of rival small towns meeting in the same bar the night after a hard fought football game but  well it was what it was. That's the kind of environment the Rockabilly groups played in everywhere they went.

Sonny Burgess rockin out

In the late fifties and early sixties, a period I refer to as my ill spent youth, I was lucky enough to catch Sonny at the "Moon" several times. I was even luckier that escaped fairly intact after each adventure. Sonny may not have made it big like Carl or Elvis but he was our Saturday night hero. He was not only a great rockabilly band leader but an excellent singer and front man as well.

When we heard Sonny Burgess and the Pacers were going to be playing at the "Moon" our bunch loaded up in those old Fords and Chevy's and drove the 36 miles. You knew if Sonny was playing it would be a party and everyone would be dancing. He knew how to keep a crowd on the floor. 
Sonny Burgess and the Pacers

I can't give you a personal testimony on most of the folks in this project but I can tell you Sonny should have been big, really big. It just goes to prove it's not the talent that makes the headlines.

Thanks Sonny and the Pacers for all those great stolen southern nights. You gave a skinny teenager an opportunity to finally do the "dirty bop". And that was "cool".

If you've never heard of Sonny take a minute and listen. He is what rockabilly was all about.

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