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Sonny James (1929 - 2016)

Getty Images / Wireimage / Photo by Ed Rode

Sonny James (1929 - 2016)

Sonny James, a country music singer and Country Music Hall of Fame member, died Monday, according to Rolling Stone. He was 87.

He died of natural causes at Nashville's Alive Hospice, according to a statement on his official website.

He was known best for his 1957 hit song "Young Love," which was considered to be the first teenage country crossover single. The song topped both the pop and country charts. James was also known as the Southern Gentleman for his polite personality.

After that hit song, James' career took a bit of a downturn until he joined up with a new backing band that he called The Southern Gentlemen in 1964. He then had his second No. 1 song with "You're the Only World I Know."


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Beginning in 1967 with the song "Need You" and ending with "Here Comes Honey Again" in 1971, James recorded 16 straight No. 1 country singles. He had 26 No. 1 songs in his career; the last one came in 1974 with "Is It Wrong (For Loving You)." He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007 along with his backing band The Southern Gentlemen.

James helped launch the career of Marie Osmond and produced her first three albums including her hit song "Paper Roses."

Osmond shared her condolences in a Twitter message: "Country Music Hall of Famer, producer & lifelong friend #SonnyJames. U will be missed! #RIP" The tweet included a link to a 1970s video featuring James on the "Donny & Marie" show. He sang the song "Young Love" on the program.

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