Sonny James

1960’s & 70’s Image Gallery

As an honored member of the Grand Ole Opry’s 1962 “Cast of Legends”; during the early ’60s, the Opry stage will provide him with a strong foundation which mirrors his true musical style. No words can accurately express the heights at which the career of Sonny James will rise during the subsequent 20 years except to repeat what one biographer expresses as “Country music history verifies his achievements”.

What many believe to be the “Cast of Legends”. The 1962 members of the Grand Ole Opry.
With Ernest Tubb during Opry broadcast.
While touring, this photo was taken of Patsy Cline and Sonny by her husband, Charlie Dick, just a few weeks before her fatal plane crash.

This close-knit group was like family. They respected each other’s talents and their voices blended perfectly with James’s. Stars in their own right, they relinquished some of the spotlight to showcase Sonny at his best. Many miles of enjoyment between these five.
Milo Liggett was road manager, featured artist, and played a major role in all James’ personal appearances. His comedy with Sonny is remembered by loyal fans throughout the country music industry. He also recorded for Monument Records. Sonny and Milo continue to have a deep friendship.
The Southern Gentleman, Minnie Pearl and Sonny enjoyed many appearances together.
Sonny, Patsy Cline, Ferlin Husky and Elvis Presley were among the original stars placed in the Walkway of the Country Music Hall of Fame on Music Row.
And a good time was had by all filming movie. Faron Young – Merle Kilgore – Minnie Pearl – Jimmy Dickens – Kitty Wells – Ruby Wright – Sonny – Curly Fox – Bill Phillips – Lamar Morris.
Fellow Capitol Records artist Buck Owens presenting Sonny with award at the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1967 the honors continued when James would host the first CMA Award Show – Country Music Association’s recognition of country’s top writers and performers. With Bobbie Gentry as his co-host, the two no doubt played a major role in what has become an annual event, and one of television's highest rated programs.
Sonny James with fellow Alabamian, Jim Nabors, when “Gomer Pyle” visited Sonny backstage during his performance. Los Angles, California, late 1960’s.
On the road again – this time more comfortable quarters for the Southern Gentleman. A little known fact is that shows became much easier for all artists due to the innovation and vision of Sonny & his Southern Gentleman. Bass player & Road Manager Milo Liggett was instrumental in developing what is now the modern "touring coach concept" used by traveling artists worldwide.
Manager Bob Neal maps out the next personal appearance schedule.
Bob Neal's work is certainly legendary and perhaps best known as the manager of Elvis Presley. Bob Neal and Dewey Phillips visit with Judy Tyler and Elvis during production of Jailhouse Rock - 1957
One of the most heralded albums of his career—“The Astrodome Presents Sonny James in Person”.
Visiting during his Astrodome appearance:
L to R: Sonny – Frank Broyles, Hall of Fame football coach (Arkansas) – Jimmy Dean – Boots Randolph – Darryl Royal, Hall of Fame football coach (Texas).
Bringing country music to larger & larger venues, here is just one of the many shows performed in the late 1960's.
These “cowboys” are Southern Gentleman (left to right) Milo Liggett – Duane West – Sonny - Glenn Huggins – Gary Robble.
Tremendous crowds were drawn by this trio in the late ‘60s. L to R: Conway Twitty – Promoter Jimmy Jay – James – Roy Clark.
Cover of a 1968 Country Music Life Magazine.
Booked by the same agency, Loretta Lynn and Sonny were often featured on the same package. Pictured here with promoter Abe Hamza.
Often promoters would feature a country artist and a motion picture personality. This series of shows starred James and Jayne Mansfield at the peak of her popularity. Her career was shortened by a tragic car accident. This picture was taken 3 months before her death.
A promotional photo for one of Sonny & The Southern Gentleman's appearances in a number of movies.
1965 Movie: Second Fiddle To A Steel Guitar
CAST: The Bowery Boys, Pamela Hayes, Sonny James, Kitty Wells, George Hamilton IV, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Lefty Frizzell, Minnie Pearl, Carl & Pearl Butler, Bill Monroe, Little Jimmy Dickens, Dell Reeves, Johnny Wright & Homer & Jethro.
1966 Movie: Las Vegas Hillbillys
CAST: Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Mansfield, Ferlin Husky, Sonny James
1967 Movie: Hillbillys in a Haunted House
CAST: Ferlin Husky, Joi Lansing, Don Bowman, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Basil Rathbone, Merle Haggard, Sonny James, Linda Ho, Molly Bee, George Barrows
Movie: Nashville Rebel CAST: Tex Ritter, Sonny James, Faron Young, Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, The Wilburn Brothers, Henny Youngman & Waylon Jennings.
New venues opened up for country artists in the 1960’s. - “Theaters in the Round” where the stage would rotate continuously during a performance. Pictured here in Salt Lake City.

Co-manager Luther Wood spent many hours furthering James’ popularity- both with Capitol Records and CBS.
The Southern Gentleman in the studio.
Sonny believes the talents of Carole Smith were responsible for a great deal of his recording success. Sonny & Carole co-wrote many of his releases and are the closest of friends. Picture here at one of James’s contract signings (CBS). Carole, husband Lyman B. – Sonny and good friend Budd King.
Sonny’s production of Marie Osmond’s album Paper Roses sold millions and led to Marie's Grammy Nomination for Best New Artist in 1974. Pictured here with awards for the album. He produced her first three successful albums.
Ed Sullivan – his frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS-TV) introduced James to millions of viewers.
Singing one of his most popular hits – Running Bear on the Sullivan show.
Milo Liggett – Gary Robble- Sonny – Duane West – Glenn Huggins. The bass voice of Southern Gentleman Glenn Huggins is the recognizable vocal sound on the #1 national hit Running Bear.
Another great outlet for the entertainer was television’s Mike Douglas Show. L to R: Liberace – Douglas – James – actress Agnes Morehead and actor Red Buttons.
James was an admirer of the legendary movie actor George Burns. Here the two appear during a TV taping.
Good Country Pickin’ by the Southern Gentleman and friend, Glen Campbell, on the CBS-TV “Good Time Hour”.
Sonny and Dolly Parton during their taping of a television show.
Being in the music industry afforded numerous opportunities to meet and enjoy many of the greats in the sports world. Here on the practice field with two of the greatest – Bobby Boyd, All Pro Defensive Back and Johnny Unitas, All Pro Quarterback. (both Hall of Fame).
Hall of Fame baseball legend, Dizzy Dean, wants to talk music with Sonny. However, Sonny’s mind is on baseball and his admiration for Dizzy’s career.
On January 31, 1971 Sonny James took a trip to the moon! By special request James was honored to be the first country artist to record a program exclusively for a moon flight. In appreciation, the crew of Apollo 14, Stuart Roosa, Edgar Mitchell and Commander Alan Shepard presented him with a flag they carried to the moon – one of James’ prized possessions.
Pictures from the Apollo 14 flight.
Picture of flag carried to the moon and the official NASA letter sent to James to commemorate this historic event.
One of the hit albums for 1976 was 200 Year of Country Music, celebrating our nation’s Bicentennial and recreating the authentic country music styles of the era with the help of many of the original band members and nominated for top honors.
Sonny always gave the audience a great show. He and his Southern Gentleman enjoyed every minute of it.
An interview with the legendary Mr. Ralph Emery.
A CBS Studio session during the making of "200 Years of Country Music".
Sonny enjoys some time with CBS Records executive Clive Davis.
His “200 Years of Country Music” was presented by CBS to the archives of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The Martin guitar pictured on this album cover is the guitar he played on all of his major hits – a sound so familiar to Sonny James fans.
Academy of Country Music’s co-founder, Bill Boyd, gave James valuable exposure on the highly rated annual award show from Los Angeles.
Presenting award to Janie Frickie – with Sammie Smith.
His “King of the Road” buddy, Roger Miller, seems to be searching for rent money in James’ pocket during rehearsals for ACM awards show.
Always a fun time doing Sam Lovullo’s “Hee-Haw” show.
Across Canada and the U.S. this 1970’s CBC Television show originated in Toronto, Ontario with host Tommy Hunter.
After many years of performing at Nashville's "Fan Fair" celebration, this performance was from Sonny's last appearance at this renowned event.
Sonny signing autographs at 1979 Fan Fair promoting the CMA awards show.
Record World magazine names Sonny James their Country Music Artist of the Decade.