* Birth name

James Loden


May 1, 1929  (age 78), Hackleburg, Alabama, United States


Country, Pop

Occupation(s)  singer, songwriter, guitarist

Years active

1953 - 1983


Capitol, Columbia, Monument, Dimension

Website www.sonnyjames.com *



Born James Loden on May 1, 1929, he began performing with his show-business family at the age of three and played with his four sisters as the Loden Family while in his teens. After spending time overseas during the Korean War, Loden took Sonny James as his stage name — after his teenage nickname — and joined the local bar circuit. He met and played with Chet Atkins, who later got him a tryout with Capitol Records. The label liked what it heard and offered James a contract. 


His first single, "That's Me Without You," hit the country Top Ten in early 1953, but it was three years before "For Rent (One Empty Heart)" became his second big hit. James played guitar on virtually all of his records.  


His next single became his biggest hit: "Young Love" spent nine weeks at number one during 1956-1957 and crossed over to top the pop charts also.

Beginning in 1957, James began to focus his attention on the popular charts. Several of his failures 
had still managed to go Top Ten on the country charts, so James returned to country with a vengeance in 1964.  


21 of his next 25 singles hit number one (and the other four near-misses hit either two or three).  James completely dominated the chart from 1964 to 1972, though only several singles crossed over for modest placements on the popular charts.


He changed from Capitol to Columbia in mid-1972. By the early '70s, James had moved into producing and music publishing also; he oversaw three of Marie Osmond’s albums and still managed occasional Top Tens himself. He picked up the prestigious award of Country Music's  Male Artist of the Decade from Record World in 1977 and moved to the Monument label in 1979,  then to Dimension two years later. He retired in 1983, and now raises cattle in Alabama.  


According to Billboard statistics, for nineteen years (1960-1979) he spent more time in the Number One chart position than any other artist in country music - a total of 57 weeks. 

In 1987 James was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame - the Lifework Award for Performing Achievement.  


In June, 2001 MALE GOLDEN VOICE AWARD - Golden Voice awards
In June, 2002, CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD -The Country Music DJ

 Hall of Fame and Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.



From 1953 to 1983, The Southern Gentleman had a total of 72 chart hits

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