Sonny James
1929 - 2016
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Sonny James

Nashville, TN

Born in Hackleburg Alabama May 1, 1928, Sonny James (Jimmie Hugh Loden) would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

With a natural talent for playing stringed instruments it would be at the age of four, when placed at the centerpiece of his family's country show consisting of his mom and pop Loden, sister Thelma and friend Ruby Palmer, is where he first began to realize his potential to entertain others.

Because he was just a kid he was affectionately called "Sonny Boy" by family and friends, yet by 1952 when he signed with Capitol Records this six-foot three-inch talent was re-billed as The Southern Gentleman, a tag that portrayed his unyielding polite ways.

In 1956 as rock-n-roll was just beginning Sonny's multi-million selling Young Love exploded on the scene and became a simultaneous #1 country and pop hit - the first such traditional country cross-over of it's kind.

By 1963 a collaboration at Capitol Studios in Hollywood with Nat King Cole, a fellow Alabama native and favorite of Sonny and his father, would begin to focus Sonny's musical approach into a more pop-sounding style of country in the hopes of broadening the country listening audience.

Beginning in 1964 with the addition of The Southern Gentlemen made up of bassist Milo Liggett, backing vocalists Lin Bown, Gary Robble, Duane West and Glenn Huggins; a refined musical style was immediately found to be identifiable by listeners. Supported by the Capitol Records team led by Ken Nelson, Sonny began what would become his legendary streak of 16 consecutive #1 releases - an uncontested record which no other solo recording artist has ever surpassed in any genre.

A mere decade later, Sonny James had amassed a surreal 16 #1's in a row, and 26 #1's in total culminating in 72 titles on the country charts. From 1966 through 1971 six of his most popular #1 recordings had previously been released by soulful R&B artists Adam Wade, Ivory Joe Hunter, Brooke Benton, Clyde Otis and Jimmy Reed.

Sonny's broad appeal not only as a performer, but an entertainer, brought him into larger and larger markets and venues as he created new paths for others to follow which had not previously been welcoming to country artists in general, including his numerous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Always an integral part of his sound and style, his mastery of the guitar as a musician added a depth to his recordings and stage appeal which translated perfectly to television. His full vocal tones backed by his "Southern Gentlemen" created a sound that was awarded time after time with great success.

The first country recording artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, his hits "The Minute You're Gone", "You're The Only World I Know", "It's Just A Matter Of Time", "Running Bear", "Empty Arms" and so many more - make it easy to realize that at the same time the world was beginning to listen to music from the British invasion of the 1960's, they were hearing Sonny James on country radio.

Immediately following his string of #1's, Sonny went on to produce the first 3 albums for Marie Osmond, which saw the first single, Paper Roses, surpass sales of 1 million worldwide and Marie was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Throughout his life he has stood always at the ready to share a funny story. Accompanied by his boyish smile, this man of deep faith never failed to cultivate his unique gift of making every friend feel as if they were his greatest friend every step of the way.

Jimmie Hugh Loden (Sonny James) is survived in life by his beloved wife of 58 years Doris Shrode Loden, sister-in-law Sally Ribble, niece Donna and husband "Joe" Mora, nephew Chuck Holcombe, Terry, Pam and Trent Holcombe.

Preceded in death by his father Archey Loden, mother Della Loden, and sister Thelma Lee Holcombe.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Nashville, TN.



Memorial Service: Thursday February 25, 2016, 1:30 PM, Brentwood Hills Church of Christ, 5120 Franklin Road, Nashville, TN 37220.



Funeral Service: Saturday, February 27, 2016, 1 PM, Hackleburg, AL, Hamilton Funeral Home, 101 Falcon Circle, Hamilton, Alabama 35570, (205) 921-3197.




To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Tennessean on Feb. 24, 2016.
Memories & Condolences
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261 entries
April 30, 2021
He will always have my heart as his 1956 YOUNG LOVE FOR I was 5 years old and gave my mom 5 dimes from my piggy bank to buy me the 45 record YOUNG LOVE after 1 time of hearing it on the radio and saw him in Wichita KS in person when I was 20 yrs.old& told him I'VE LOVED YOUR VOICE SINCE AGE 5 & STILL HAD THE .50 CENT 45 OF YOUNG LOVE & THAT BLEW HIM AWAY AS AN AWESOME COMPLIMENT. I'VE NEVER STOPPED LOVING HIS VOICE & I AM NOW TO BE 69 ON OCTOBER 11TH & STILL HAVE MY 50 CENT YOUNG LOVE RECORD WITH ITS PURPLE AND SILVER CAPITOL RECORD LABEL.
Jilyna Ryann Hodge
Friend
June 3, 2020
I grew up hearing stories of Sonny James, and his relationship to my grandfather, Hershel Burleson. I believe they were 1st Cousins.
Kirk Opperman
Family
June 3, 2020
I never knew Sonny James, though I heard much about him. I was told throughput my life that he was My Granfathers (Herschel Burleson) First Cousin. The stories of how James taught my Grandfather Guitar, and My Grandfather taught James to Swim.
Kirk Opperman
Family
March 2, 2020
I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of mr sonny James for the entertainment that he provide to his fans may the true God bless grant him peace
December 29, 2019
Sonny you were of the best I will always remember how very well you treated me when I met you at a concert you live on in your timeless songs " Rest In Peace " Sonny
Danehy Carson
Friend
November 29, 2019
Wonderful singer. I just wish I could have met you before you passed over to the other side.
Dixie Black
November 4, 2019
HIS MUSIC HELPED ME TO GET THROUGH TWO TOUGH CRUISES WHILE I WAS IN THE NAVY. SAW HIM LIVE IN CHARLESTON, SC. ATTENDED WORSHIP WITH HIM AND DORIS IN NASHVILLE AT WAVERLY BELMONT CHURCH OF CHRIST.
jesse w. "billy" johnson
January 25, 2019
Sonny: Thank you and Doris for our special friendship we shared for over 50 years. We were family and shared lifetime of fun stories and laughed about silly things. I will always cherish the times we had. Knowing you has made me a better person, for this I am truly thankful. Miss you, rest in peace.
Forever family, forever friends.
Maggie Hippensteel
Friend
October 23, 2018
He will always be one of my favorites. Saw him perform once and loved the show.
February 7, 2018
just like to thank him for all the great songs and performances!!!! a real pro for sure!
November 17, 2017
I loved your music. Rest In Peace.
Kimberly Walls
October 10, 2017
THE BEST
HOWARD WILSON
July 31, 2017
He was a great entertainer, I still listen to his music and saw him sunday on the Jimmy Dean Show. vI really enjoyed seeing him on tv.
Pearl Cook
Friend
February 20, 2017
In 1956/57 during our courtship (we married, July 1957) 'YOUNG LOVE" and later "TIL THE LAST LEAF SHALL FALL" were our favorite songs. We appreciated that Sonny James was a Christian, who wrote & sang Gospel Music as well as love songs. Sonny James enjoy Heaven with Christ Jesus, Savior. Frank & Fran, Florida Fans.
Frank & Fran Barrow
December 18, 2016
A true Southern Gentleman, a Wonderful Singer! May You Rest in Peace Sir! Prayers going out to your family! Mary E Frazier
Mary Frazier
Friend
November 16, 2016
Valenda Newell
October 7, 2016
As I research this GREAT COUNTRY artist. I'm not to sure about one thing... did he make the name famous or did the name make him famous. It must be the former. R.I.P.
Rick
September 17, 2016
I am so sorry to hear about Sonny's passing. He was one of my favorites. May God be with you and your family at this time May he give you peace and strength, that only he can give. God bless you and your family.
Pam Feig
July 25, 2016
my favorite is apache but I loved all his songs
betsy hadden
July 23, 2016
Doris,
I will miss our lively conversations at the Green Hills post office. Sonny was always very encouraging when we would talk music business stuff there and the times we met at worship services. A true gentleman is now singing with the angels. I look forward to joining that ensemble.
May God continue to bless you,
Larimore Henley
June 18, 2016
Dear Mary,
I just recently hear about your dear husband Sonny James passing away. My heart breaks for you as I can say that I know how you feel. I lost my hubby of 53 years four years ago. I have a question for you? In the early fifties when we were all very young my mom would let me ride the bus from Garland to downtown Dallas and visit WRR so that i could hear Sonny James sang while preforming on the Radio Station and I was so jealous because he was dating a pretty tall slender girl by the name of Mary. For some reason I have remembered that name all these years. When reading his obituary I saw where his wife was name Mary! Could you be the same Mary that I met all those many years ago. And I use to hear him sing at the Shin-Dig at Fair Park. He was one of the best and had such a sweet caring voice. My e-mail address is: Joycehallw@aol.com. I would love to hear from you. Keep his sweet memories in your heart. Sending you hugs and prayers. Love, Joyce
Joyce Hall
June 18, 2016
Joyce Hall
June 2, 2016
You will be missed by many. Love you Sonny.
Lois Day
May 24, 2016
May 17, 2016
alan Price
April 27, 2016
I've always thought that Sonny James was underrated - period. He not only possessed a wonderful clear voice, but was also a decent songwriter and musician. During the mid to late 1950s, he had several teen-ballad records issued on the Capitol label, including "Young Love", that were simply outstanding. Yes, he flirted with rock and roll, but he did it tastefully. I think about him all the time and am sorry to hear about his passing.

Buckle Bob Hover
Goodyear, AZ
Robert Hover
April 23, 2016
I will never forget "Young Love", it is burned within me forever.
I am happy for you in your New Life!
Blessings....
Dolly Leenheer
April 21, 2016
you will certainley be missed. loved hearing all of your great music. rip xo
April 7, 2016
You will be missed by many. R.I.P. Sonny.
carolyn Baughman
March 24, 2016
You have my deepest sympathy. May the God of loyal love comfort the family during your time of sorrow. Psalm 119.76.
March 23, 2016
A great loss to the world. Such a beautiful voice!
kathy isenhart
March 17, 2016
My deepest condolences. The song I Know was the song my sister & her husband fell in love with each other by. I Know is their love song to each other. This year would mark their 45 wedding anniversary. We are so saddened to hear of his passing. We grew up with his songs. He will be missed so much. In loving memory.
Phyllis Stewart
March 14, 2016
"YOUNG LOVE FIRST LOVE" ETC, THAT SONG WILL ALWAYS LIVE IN ALL OF US TEENS IN THAT ERA, IT STILL DOES. TO ME, THANK YOU MR. JAMES. REST IN PEACE AND KEEP SINGING WITH THE ANGELS. THANK YOU AGAIN. ESTHER M SANTINI
March 13, 2016
Ruby Huggins
March 13, 2016
Doris,
Although we never met I do somehow know you through Sonny,each time he and the Southern Gentlemen were in Michigan I was on with the entire group,Many times eating lunch or dinner with some or all of the group including Sonny,Thelma and her family,what a joy to see the backstage offstage Southern Gentleman,he was a friend,always ready to talk about you,his sister niece & nephew and brother in law and fishing.We had many discussions about everything except the music business,what a joy to have known such a true individual,thank you for sharing him with his public and with me .
Sincerely Richard Hutchings
Richard Hutchings
March 13, 2016
He was one a kind. I remember the first time I heard Young Love what a beautiful voice. Thank you for all the other wonderful hits that you gave us.
Theresa Godfrey
March 1, 2016
rest in peace loved his singing condolences to the family
terry martini
March 1, 2016

The Southern Gentleman Was Indeed 'A Southern Gentleman' and True To His Trademark Name. A True Professional that Set A Standard In Country Music That will Endure for Ages. God Bless & Be With Sonny's Family & Friends.
Jerry & Ruth Vandiver, Emerson Georgia
March 1, 2016
I good singer and will be missed
richard stewart
February 29, 2016
Doris: Fond memories of Saturday night Shindigs at Fair park in Dallas and attending church with you and Sonny at the Peak and Eastside church of Christ in Dallas. (circa 1957. God bless. Jimmy & Mary Butler
February 28, 2016
We are so sorry to hear of the passing of Sonny James. He meant a great deal to all country fans. He will be missed.
Sylvia and Victor Bott
February 28, 2016
I remember my mom and dad listening to his music.A great singer.Prayers to his family
Tammy Porter-Mahon
February 27, 2016
Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this sad time. His memory will live on in the wonderful songs we will continue to listen to. Arleen & Darryl Belletty ,Perth,Australia
February 27, 2016
RIP Sonny James.You will be missed.Sending condolences to family and friends.
David Watkins
February 27, 2016
Sending sincere sympathy and letting you know my heart goes out to the family at this time of great sadness. Please know that God cares about how you feel and invites you to let him help you. (Jeremiah 29:12).And YOU will certainly call me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to YOU.
Saddie
February 27, 2016
Sincere condolences, Mrs. Hal Durham
Frances Durham
February 27, 2016
My prayers go out to his wife @ family. HE WILL BE MISSED BY EVERYONE. He was a great singer .God Bless .Alice Guckian Queen @ family
Alice Guckian Queen
February 27, 2016
You will always be in our hearts Sonny RIP.
Amanda Watkins
February 27, 2016
May you RIP for now you are singing with the angels in heaven Prayers for the family, he was a true gentleman.
janice hulsey
February 27, 2016
Sonny 's music and Christian character inspired me in my youth. His was a life well lived. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." David Dunn
David Dunn
February 27, 2016
Sonny:
I write this as I am playing your music on the air. You were one of a kind and will be missed.
Rest well, brother!
Pete French- WUVT-FM
February 27, 2016
Two of the most humble people I have ever known. Thanks for the great example and the life long friendship. Love u Sonny and Doris!!
Barney and Teresa
February 26, 2016
Sonny became my favorite singer in 1972 and will always be. I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert many times and his music will always hold a special place in my heart. I extend my sympathy to you, Doris. Your husband was the epitomy of class and dignity. What a wonderful man. He will be sorely missed. I hope to join you in heaven someday Sonny. Rest in peace
Thomas Brunner
February 26, 2016
Memories of SONNY JAMES as a teenager
And getting to see him in Mom and Pop Lodens
Store. . such a thrill
He was so kind and a true GENTLEMAN. Loved his music. His Legend lives forever
Loved by So many
RIP SONNY JAMES
Loved all your family
Your sweet wife Doris will sure be lost W/o you
And we will certainly miss you in our community. But you left us BLESSED memories. To cherish in our lifetime. Until we meet in Heaven. Good bye dear friend
Jan West
February 26, 2016
Shirley Naese
February 26, 2016
Doris,

We wanted to send you our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

I was 6 years old when Sonny for the first time. Jason and I traveled everywhere with Maggie, Evelyn and Kathy to see him. It's funny because we just assumed every kid got to do cool stuff like that!

Later, when Son came in off the road we finally got to meet you....and enjoyed every minute we got to share with you both.

having both of you in our lives is a blessing for both of us, and we want you to know we will ALWAYS smile when we think about the laughs and good times we shared with you.

with much love,

Karen & Jason Hippensteel
Karen Gramm (Hippensteel)
February 26, 2016
Sonny James was the one who led me, in 1968, to listen to Country Music.

What a singer and gentleman.

For those who did not know how great a singer and gentleman he was, it was truly their loss.

May he rest in peace.
John Rosenthal
February 26, 2016
I grew up listening to sonny. He was a great part of my life. He never knew it,but I'll never forget it.
Linda Johnson
February 26, 2016
Such a great musician!!
Mary Loden Beachum
February 26, 2016
I loved to sit by Sonny at the Woodmont Hills church . We enjoyed each other's singing. He was indeed a gentleman.
Helen Andrews
My love To Dorris.
February 26, 2016
wonderful singer..wonderful person..too many good ones are now gone..
February 26, 2016
Sonny was exactly what he was billed as a true Southern Gentleman and his wife Doris was a beautiful lady. One thing stands out in my mind is that after a show he would sign autographs for fans until the last one was gone this went on night after night. His fans loved him and he loved them too.I will cherish the time I worked with him.
Ricky Burch
February 26, 2016
Being from Hackleburg I remember seeing Sonny around town many times. I recall going to Mom and Pop's store as a child. This Southern Gentleman will surly be missed in this little southern town. Thru all his success he never lost site of his Christian values and integrity. Doris I pray God's love and comfort will surround you while Sonny sings in The Heavenly Choir.
Frances Robinson Brunson
February 26, 2016
Sonny James is part of my childhood music memories . . . and he has been a blessing to country music. RIP dear soul.
Wanda Arnett
February 26, 2016
My prayers are with you and your family.
February 26, 2016
Sorry to lose the world best singer
February 26, 2016
Sonny will be missed by the thousands he entertained at the concerts held annually by my radio stations in Jacksonville, Macon and Tampa. A great man whose Christmas cards and phone chats will long be remembered. Near my age, so we shared a lot of memories. God will welcome him.
Marshall Rowland
February 26, 2016
Never got to see you in person but loved your songs you were a true southern gentleman and thank you for your songs R.I.P
gerald barry
February 26, 2016
Never got to see you in person but loved your songs you were a true southern gentlemen
gerald barry
February 25, 2016
Sorry to The Family of Sonny James of his Death. Just had to Share this.. Young Love was my Mom & Dad song ..We had their 50th Anniversary in 2007 & that was their Song from 1957 .The Song fit them they Knew each other Young ..8 years old & 10 years old.. Married 16 years old & 19 years old.. My Dad got Bladder Cancer ..toward the end We played Young Love.. For Him...Just wanted to share what the song meant to my Mom & Dad..To Us their Children & grandchildren & Great I grandchildren..We lost Dad in 2008..But have the Memories & Song and Beautiful Mom & Family. XOXOXO

Thank you for letting Us share...
May Your Whole Family have Peace & Comfort..Care for each other with Kindness & love Take it day by day....xo
julie krumm
February 25, 2016
Sonny James was both the first country-music star I ever met and the first I interviewed (back in 1969 or 1970, backstage following a package show at the Minneapolis Auditorium).

Among the more private of entertainers, Sonny was hardly a fixture on the Music Row party scene, but I had a few opportunities to observe him when his absence from industry events would have been misconstrued and the one constant was his humility and accessibility.

Always affable and approachable, without an insatiable need to slap backs, network as the upwardly-mobile are inclined to do or even to be noticed, Sonny was truly a Southern Gentleman and a role model for any aspiring country artist.

My sympathy to his family and friends.
Stacy Harris
February 25, 2016
I was a distant cousin to sonny . he and my dad (James Mitchell) son of A Lee and Ora Mae Mitchell) were cousin's. Dad said he remembered going into the store that his parents owned an seeing sonny as a young man. An talking with him my dad has such fond memories of him .I was unfortunate not to get to meet him.but my dad has lots of stories to tell us about him.I loved his music he will be greatly missed. My dad also went to see him last year at Neighbor Day and he signed his guitar for him. He said he would. Always cherish it.
Chrisjewel Bridges
February 25, 2016
So sorry for the passing of a great artist. May the love of comfort bring peace to his loved ones.
Germaine
February 25, 2016
You are now singing in God's choir. Thank you for all the pleasure you gave on earth with your beautiful voice.and thank you Doris for sharing your beloved with the world. Geraldine Bourdon
Geraldine Bourdon
February 25, 2016
I remember my mom and dad went to see him in Madison Wisconsin we all loved his music he will be missed God Bless your Family
February 25, 2016
May you rest in peace with the Lord, Sonny James. Thank you for the wonderful music that you shared with us all.
Gene
February 25, 2016
So sorry to read about the passing of Sonny.. His songs brought happiness to many people. May the fond memories you have of your time together, ease the pain you have in your heart.
Joanne Peterson
February 25, 2016
I remember when I was a little girl when SOnny would come home to visit his mother he would always come to church with her he was always polit signing the children autographs after church he will be missed
Patsy Abbott
February 25, 2016
You will be greatly missed in the music world. R.I.P.Sonny and my prayers to your family.
Linda Fineday
February 25, 2016
Loved both his "Paper Roses" and his "Young Love" RIP
old fan
February 25, 2016
Thank you Sonny for showing the world a man of great faith in our Lord Jesus Christ can achieve great things not only in the music industry but also in the daily lives of our fellow man. We will always treasure our friendship.
Warren and Donna Williford
February 25, 2016
May the God of all comfort be with family and loved ones.
Stacy
February 25, 2016
Wayne Wood
February 25, 2016
Sonny, RIP my music friend, you will be missed, our condolences to your family and friends, we all were lucky to know you.
Ernie M.
February 25, 2016
I will always remember how nice Sonny was when he autographed his "Young Love" album for my father and spent time talking to us at Loden's store in Hackleburg. A true favorite son of Hackleburg! May the Lord comfort all of his family until we are together again in Heaven.
Sherry Clement-Kidd
February 25, 2016
with love, former sheriff Floyd long and family
Floyd Long & family
February 25, 2016
I love Sonny James and.his songs. He will be missed but remembered.
Vicki Betz
February 25, 2016
Never got to see you in person but loved your songs.You were a true southern gentleman!!!
Jeanette Johnson
February 25, 2016
Are Prayers Are With Your Family,A True Gentleman Has Passed and Country Music has lost the best of the best.
Linda Jones
February 25, 2016
I worked with Sonny at CBS records in the 70's. He was one of the finest people ever, in or out of the music business. My heart is saddened by his passing, but I know he will now be entertaining elsewhere, and will be loved just as much as always.
Stan Hutto
February 25, 2016
Few if any possessed such a combination of talent, character, personality and genuine niceness to others as did Sonny. Best and warm thoughts to Doris.
Jerry Crutchfield
February 25, 2016
Your music, your love and kindness will live on forever. Love and prayers for you and your family.
Judith Littrell
February 25, 2016
Being from Sony's home town. I had the privilege of knowing him and his sweet wife Doris. Always greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Never changed through the years. He will be greatly missed visiting our little town.
Glenda Anglin
February 25, 2016
Doris, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Sonny was loved by so many people and will be remembered. I was a part of your life in an earlier time. I send my love and a hug.
"Mary Pat Murphy" daughter of Kate and Dallas.
Patricia Nelson Gilchrist
February 25, 2016
phyllis boyer
February 25, 2016
Johnny Freserick
February 25, 2016
Always loved your music. Thanks for always being a gentleman.
Carolyn Pugh
February 25, 2016
Young Love...that was my song...RIP Sonny! Thank u for the memories! Audrey
Audrey Goodon
February 25, 2016
Jane Loden Brown
February 24, 2016
Dear Mrs. Loden, My sincere sympathy in the passing if your husband. May you find comfort in God and memories. I never met either of you but years ago I was enrolled at Lipscomb U. and I remember the two of you sitting up in the balcony, with me in front of you at a local church of Christ. What beautiful praises we all sang that Sunday. Until we meet again... Sincerely, Kathleen McCracken
Kathleen McCracken
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