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A Moment To Remember: Country Singer Sonny James’ Death At 87

Sonny James Death

Country singer Sonny James, known for his 1957 track “Young Love,” which topped both country and pop charts, passed away on February 22, 2016, at Nashville’s Alive Hospice. According to a statement released on his website, his death was due to natural causes. He was 87. 

James was, as Kix Brooks described him in his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006, “an artist who really dominated his time in history.” His career started with his debut Top 10 single in 1953, “That’s Me Without You.” A few years later, he had his breakthrough with the dreamy ballad “Young Love.” He joined the prestigious Grand Ole Opry in 1965, the same year he scored his second number-one hit, “You’re the Only World I Know.” And then from 1967 to 1971, he stacked up 16 consecutive chart-topping hits on the Billboard charts, starting with “Need You” and concluding with “Here Comes Honey Again.” 

Aside from his career as a singer, he also played fiddle (he won championships for playing one as a teen) for the bluegrass act Jim & Jesse, produced LPs for Marie Osmond, including her highly popular debut album Paper Roses, and appeared in country-music-themed TV shows and films. To add to his long list of achievements, he was also the first country artist to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the first cohost of the Country Music Association Awards show with Bobbie Gentry

And while some stars get drunk with that level of fame and success, James stayed grounded. In fact, his soft-spokenness, kindness, and humbleness, on and off the stage, earned him the nickname “the Southern Gentleman.” According to Robble, a member of the vocal quartet who recorded and toured with the singer, he was the ultimate gentleman. “He knew a lot of people, but when you were talking to him, the only person he knew was you. I was proud to be associated with him.”

Singer-actress Brenda Lee also shared the same story about James. They became dear friends when they starred in the 1950s show “Ozark Jubilee,” and she had nothing but praise about him. Lee described him as “one of the nicest, sweetest, most down-to-earth” person she had ever met. 

He released his last single, “A Free Roamin’ Mind,” in 1983 and then retired that same year. He spent his retirement on the lake as an avid fisherman. He came back briefly in the spotlight when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Sonny James’ death really hit close to many. He was a beloved friend and an inspiration to many fellow singers. He was truly one of country music’s greatest artists. 

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