October 5

The Rebirth of “Since I Met You Baby” by Sonny James

“Since I Met You Baby” is an American rhythm and blues song written and recorded by pianist Ivory Joe Hunter. The song, which Hunter recorded in 1956, became an American standard and saw renewed popularity in 1969 when country music artist Sonny James released his hit version.

Sonny James

In the late 1950s, Sonny James had been appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and performed “Young Love” on one particular show dedicated to the top hits of 1957. It was on the same show when rhythm & blues vocalist Ivory Joe Hunter sang “Since I Met You Baby,” a #12 recording on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart. Backstage at rehearsal, Sonny was struck by the tune and suggested to Hunter that it could be done as a country song. Ivory Joe smiled great big (showing his trademark gold teeth) and said, “Go right ahead. I’m gonna hold you to it.”

He did the same in “Heaven Says Hello,” where James used Millie Kirkham to enhance parts of “Since I Met You Baby.” Sonny had started featuring Millie’s high soprano voice on his records for an added touch. Not overwhelming, just sparingly on introductions mostly, and only when it fits. Many listeners thought the sound was an instrument, not a human voice. Millie’s voice was that beautiful. Over the years, she was featured on such classic recordings.

The years went by and Sonny James finally met his obligation to Ivory Joe Hunter and performed “Since I Met You Baby” at his Astrodome concert in August 1969. Capitol Records immediately issued the performance as a single. Sonny sang the song on “The Ed Sullivan Show” one month later, just as the record was closing in on the #1 position on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. It reached its mark on October 4, 1969, and rested there for three weeks. With the chart-topping success of this single, the groundwork was laid for another Sonny James cover of a second Ivory Joe Hunter song: 1971’s “Empty Arms.” It too shot to #1.


ed sullivan show, soony james

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