Sonny Curtis

By Gary:

I am writing today about a musician that the majority of you have never heard of and  I was not aware of his talents and just how he fit in to Rock and Roll until about 30 years ago.  I was made aware of this fantastic guitarist, great song writer and singer when researching for information regarding “Charles Hardin Holley” or “Buddy”.  Sonny was Buddy’s first lead guitar player and went to Nashville and recorded the “Decca Sessions”.  He wrote Blue Day and Black Nights and Rock around with Ollie Vee for those sessions.

He wrote Walk Right Back which the Everly Brothers had a hit with.  The one that got my attention was the song he wrote for the Album “In Style with the Crickets”, I fought the Law which the Bobby Fuller Four had a hit with.  He was involved with the last sessions of Eddie Cochran and co-wrote “Three steps to Heaven”.

Fast Forward, he wrote the theme for the Mary Tyler Moore Show “Love is all around”  He also wrote many hits in the Country field and was inducted into the “Musician’s Hall of Fame” in Nashville in 1991.  I give you Sonny Curtis!

Sonny Curtis

Videos:

Sonny / Peter Asher and Albert Lee / Walk Right Back / 

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The Buddy Holly Story / 

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Real wild Child with Jerry Allison and Joe B “The Crickets” / 

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2007 / Sonny with the Crickets / 

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Sonny and the Cricket’s “My Little Girl” / 

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Love is all Around / 

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Sonny Curtis was involved in country music for over 40 years, composing songs recorded by numerous stars, among them the Everly Brothers, Hank Williams, Jr., and even Bing Crosby. He was born and raised near Lubbock, Texas, and began performing as a teen on local radio, playing fiddle on the popular Buddy & Bob show, which featured an up-and-coming Buddy Holly. Waylon Jennings was also a DJ at the station, and together they all performed at the town movie theater during intermissions. Curtis joined Holly’s band, the Three Tunes, in 1956 as a fiddler, guitar player and sang back; when the group went to Nashville to record with famed producer Owen Bradley, they recorded one of Curtis’ songs, “Rock Around with Ollie Vee.” Eventually, Curtis amicably left Holly and began touring with Slim Whitman before making his solo debut in 1958 with the single “Wrong Again.”

After Holly’s tragic death in 1959, his band, the Crickets, asked Curtis to become their lead guitarist and singer. He was drafted in 1960 and stationed in Fort Ord, where he penned the song “Walk Right Back,” a major hit for the Everly Brothers in 1961 and later popularized by Andy Williams, Perry Como, and Anne Murray.       

Despite a string of mid-range hits including “My Way of Life,” “Atlanta Georgia Stray,” and “The Straight Life,” Curtis had his greatest success as a songwriter. One of his best-known and most recorded songs was “I Fought the Law,” which has been done by artists like the Bobby Fuller Four, the Clash, and Lou Reed. He also wrote the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Love Is All Around,” which became a Top 30 hit on the country charts. In the early ’90s, Curtis also wrote the theme song to the TV show Evening Shade.

In the early ’80s, he and two former Crickets, Joe B. Maudlin and Jerry Allison, reunited and performed with Waylon Jennings’ show. He had a Top 15 single with “Good Ole’ Girls” for Elektra in 1981, followed by “Married Women,” which made it to the Top 40. He made his final chart entry in 1986 with the minor hit “Now I’ve Got a Heart of Gold.” Curtis also made a name for himself as a commercial jingle singer/songwriter, and continued writing country songs for artists such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, and John Schneider. In 1991, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame by the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

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3 responses to “Sonny Curtis

  1. From Gary: Make sure you watch the video about the Buddy Holly Story. Sonny wrote it after seeing the movie.

  2. I always enjoy your posts about the easy days of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s a very interesting picture (above) of Sonny Curtis playing with Buddy Holly. They were good friends. The photo was taken in 1956 when Buddy opened a show in Lubbock for headliner Elvis Presley. What’s unusual about it is that Sonny is playing Buddy’s guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, and Buddy is playing Elvis’s Martin D18 acoustic. That’s Jerry Allison on drums. It looks like Bill Black’s Kay M1 bass probably being played by Don Guess. There’s a lot of history in that picture.

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