Arkansas’ own Sonny Burgess died August 18, 2017 at the age of 88 years old. He rocked the Newport area since 1955 and the days of the Rock N’ Roll Highway 67. Sonny Burgess and the Pacers recorded hits for SUN Records and played festivals, clubs and shows all over the world.
The band was formed in 1955 at Newport, Arkansas. They had five singles on SUN Records: “Red Headed Woman” b/ “We Wanna Boogie”, “Thunderbird”, “Ain’t Got a Thing”, “Buckets Got a Hole In It”, and “Sadies Back In Town”. They also had a hit in 1965 on Razorback Records with “The Short Squashed Texan”. “Red Headed Woman and We Wanna Boogie” has been voted the wildest record ever recorded. Sonny and the Pacers played clubs, festivals, shows, and colleges all over the US and Canada. They were one of the pioneers of rock and roll and traveled with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Danny and the Juniors, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Hawkins, Billy Lee Riley, Ace Cannon, Charlie Rich, Teddy Riedell, Narvel Felts, and many more.
Several years ago the band reformed to record “They Came From the South” and released another great CD called “Still Rockin’ and Rollin”. The CD has received rave reviews and in June of 2000 was voted best new album in the country and roots field in Europe. Both CD’s feature Sonny Burgess, Bobby Crafford, Jim Aldridge, Fred Douglas, Kern Kennedy, and J.C. Caughron. Charles Watson II plays fiddle on the “Still Rockin’ and Rollin’” album.
They have since recorded more CD’s and Albums. 2012 had a release on Cleopatra Records “Live At Sun Studio”, on LP. In 2013 had a CD released in Sweden on Teddy Records titled “Live In Sweden”.
In April of 1999 the Pacers played for a world wide Rockabilly show in Las Vegas and stole the show. In May of 1999, Sonny Burgess was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Europe. In May of 2000 they played for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee along with Narvel Felts, Ace Cannon, The Crickets, The Comets, Brenda Lee, Stan Perkins, D.J. Fontana, Scotty Moore, W.S. Holland, and more.
They were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame In Jackson, TN in 2002. In 2007, they were inducted in the Walk Of Fame in Hot Springs, AR. , and also into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall Of Fame, which is located in Pine Bluff, AR.
The Rock and Soul Museum in Memphis also opened in May of 2000 and features a section on the Pacers. In October of 2000 they were asked to play for a special show at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis honoring Sam Philips and his legacy at Sun Records.