Sonny James

Youth Image Gallery

From his family’s farm in beloved Hackleburg, Alabama; Sonny’s earliest years formed his rich musical style & talents as the youngest performing member of “The Loden Family”. As opportunities arise his career begins to take shape when suddenly Uncle Sam calls him to Korea. Review each of the following pictures and captions to witness the beginnings of the man who would become a country music legend… Sonny James, The Southern Gentleman.

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Hackleburg, Alabama: Since Nashville is the center of the country music industry Sonny James was advised to make his home in the beautiful hills of Tennessee. However, his hometown that he’s so proud of is Hackleburg, Alabama, his birthplace. This sign welcomes visitors to this friendly town.
Two of Sonny’s closest friends – Hackleburg Mayor Whitey Cochran & former Mayor Barney Shackelford.
Hometown friend and former Mayor Douglas Gunnin.
The country birthplace of Sonny James.
Sonny as a baby.
Sonny at age four.

Hear the very first recording of Sonny at age 4. Recorded in 1933, Sonny sings and plays the mandolin as his sister Thelma plays the guitar. This song was an "on the air" performance recorded at WMSD Radio as shown below.

Radio Station WMSD (presently WLAY) Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Sonny made his singing debut on this station when he was four years old, with sis Thelma.
James’s first instrument made by his father from the bottom of a molasses bucket and tuned like a mandolin as displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum.
The Loden Family – Sonny, "MOM" Loden – "POP" Loden and sister, Thelma.
The Loden Family (Southerners) enjoyed their greatest success when they were affiliated with WPTF and WNOX, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Sonny Loden And His Southerners. Performing in Birmingham, Alabama 1947. [L-R Guitarist (unknown), Little Ruby, Sonny Loden, Thelma Loden, Pop Loden]
The cast of WPTF’s Saturday night show with friends and fellow entertainers Johnny and Jack and others. Sonny's position in this larger photo has been highlighted.
The 252nd National Guard Unit departing Guin, Alabama on September 9, 1950. Pictured here preparing to board troop train. Sonny's position in this larger photo has been highlighted.
Sonny's Guard Unit. The 252nd, 2nd Platoon. Sonny's position in this larger photo has been highlighted.