Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Loden was born on a farm into a family of musicians. Nicknamed "Sonny", by age three he was playing a mandolin and singing and at age four joined with his "Mom" & "Pop" Loden and nine-year-old sister Thelma "Sis" Loden to perform on an area radio station. A musically inclined adopted sister by the name of Ruby Palmer also joined the group and the singing Loden family's popularity was such that before long they were playing theaters, auditoriums and schoolhouses throughout the southern United States. After years on the road, in 1949 the two girls married and the family band dissolved.
In 1950, James Loden joined a country band in Memphis, Tennessee but his desire for a full-time career in music was interrupted by service in the Korean War. After nearly eighteen months overseas he was shipped home and discharged in the late fall of 1952. Loden immediately headed for Nashville, Tennessee where, with the help of Chet Atkins whom Loden had met while touring with his family's band, he signed with Capitol Records. The company had him drop his last name and as "Sonny James" he made his first studio record. While appearing on a popular radio show, the Louisiana Hayride, he met musician Slim Whitman. James' performance on stage playing a fiddle and singing brought a strong crowd response and Whitman invited him to front for his new touring band. James stayed with Whitman's group for a few months before returning to Nashville to make further recordings including what became his first Top Ten country hit, That's Me Without You. Over the next few years he had several songs that did reasonably well on the country music charts and he continued to develop his career with performances at live country music shows as well as on radio and then on the all-important new medium, television.
Dubbed the "Southern Gentlemen" because of his polite demeanor, in 1956 Sonny James recorded "Young Love", a 45rpm single for which he would forever be remembered. As the first ever "crossover" song, it made it into both the pop and country music charts. However, a shortage of pressing plants in and around Nashville, a problem not fixed for another year, resulted in his record company not being able to meet the overwhelming consumer demand for his record. Partly as a result of this problem a cover version was organized by Chicago record promoters that was sung by the then red-hot movie star and teen idol, Tab Hunter. Sonny James' agent was able to get him nationwide exposure with a television appearance on the very important Ed Sullivan Show on January 20, 1957. However, in an odd twist of fate, the lack of records on store shelves and a national promotion behind the Tab Hunter record saw the movie star actually benefit the most. Two weeks after Sonny James sang his song on the Ed Sullivan show, Hunter's version climbed to No.1 on the popular music charts.
Sonny James went on to a long and highly successful career and in 1962 he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. From 1964 to 1972, Sonny James was the dominant force in country music. He had a string of country Top 10 hit singles including a No.1 cover version in 1969 of the Roy Orbison hit, "Only The Lonely". Beginning in 1967, Sonny James recorded sixteen straight No. 1 singles that started with "I'll Never Find Another You" and ended in 1971 with "Here Comes Honey Again." James' record remained in tact until it was surpassed years later by the group, Alabama. He was a guest performer on popular television shows such as the Bob Hope Show, the Ed Sullivan Show and Hee Haw. He also made minor appearances in several Hollywood motion pictures and in 1969, Billboard magazine named him "Artist of the Year."
In 1983, James retired to his cattle ranch in Alabama.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Sonny James has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details