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Sonny Burgess Dies: Rockabilly Legend Was 88

Image: Sonny Burgess Dies: Rockabilly Legend Was 88

Recording Artist Sonny Burgess performs at Get Rhythm: A Tribute To Sam Phillips at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Aug. 29, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

By    |   Monday, 21 August 2017 02:41 PM

1950s rockabilly great and leader of the Pacers Albert “Sonny” Burgess died Friday night in Little Rock, Arkansas, at age 88.

Burgess signed with Sun Records and shared a stage with Elvis Presley as part of the dance band the Moonlighters in 1955. That same year, he started the Pacers.

Burgess recorded the hits “Red-Headed Woman” and “We Wanna Boogie” with Sun in the 1950s, and the Pacers were known for high-energy antics during their performances.

Burgess commented that “everything was new” when he was making music in the 1950s, and he was part of the pioneering time period that produced Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, among others who produced new and exciting forms of music, USA Today reported.

Jerry Phillips, the son of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, said his dad called Burgess “one of the outstanding guys he worked with,” USA Today reported.

Sun historian Colin Escott wrote of Burgess’s 1956 recording, “It was punk before punk, thrash before thrash,” USA Today reported.

Burgess had other jobs throughout the decades, including as a traveling salesman, but continued to tour off and on until July, when he fell at home and had to be hospitalized.

In his later years, Burgess received an honorary doctorate from Arkansas State in 2014 and the Arkansas Arts Council honored him with the Folklife Award in 2016.

Burgess is survived by his son John Burgess.

Twitter users mourned the loss of Burgess.

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1950s rockabilly great and leader of the Pacers Albert "Sonny" Burgess died Friday night in Little Rock, Arkansas, at age 88.
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2017-41-21
Monday, 21 August 2017 02:41 PM
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