Sonny James

Gary: “Crossover”…

This is considered the “First” Teenage Crossover Record.

Born May 1 1929, Mr. James Loden


The Country Gentleman
Sonny James

1.   Young Love/ Capitol 3602/ December 1956/ # 1 Billboard

2.   First Date, First Kiss, First Love/ Capitol 3674/ April 1957/ # 25 Billboard

Born James Loden on May 1, 1929, he began performing with his show-business family at the tender age of three and played with his four sisters as “The Loden Family” while in his teens. The group appeared around the South (USA) and on radio shows like the Louisiana Hayride and Saturday Night Shindig.

After spending time overseas during the Korean War, Loden took “Sonny James” as his stage name — after his teenage nickname. He met and played with Chet Atkins, who later got him a tryout with Capitol Records. The label liked what it heard and offered Sonny a contract.

His first single, “That’s Me Without You“, hit the Country Top Ten in early 1953, but it was three years before “For Rent (One Empty Heart)” became his second big hit.

James, who played guitar on virtually all of his records, followed up with two 1956 Top Ten near-misses “Twenty Feet of Muddy Water” and “The Cat Came Back“. His next single became his biggest hit: “Young Love” spent nine weeks at number one during 1956-1957 and crossed over to top the pop charts also.

Beginning in 1957, James began to focus his attention on the Popular charts. “First Date, First Kiss, First Love” made the Top 25, but no follow-up placed as high. Several of his failures had still managed to go Top Ten on the Country charts, so James returned to Country with a vengeance in 1964. “You’re the Only World I Know” hit #1 Country late that year and spent four weeks atop the chart.



3 responses to “Sonny James

  1. I loved “Young Love” as a kid! Tab Hunter’s version beat it out on the charts, but both versions did well. Sonny James’ version – which I preferred – had more “roots” to it.

  2. Sonny James’ version was definitely more poignant. I thought of Tab Hunter as more of a move star than a singer. His version probably beat out Sonny’s only because of the female population who thought of Tab as a hunk.

  3. Pingback: Gene Vincent! | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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