April 20, 2010

Therman B. "Sonny" Fisher

Sonny Fisher was born on a farm in the small town of Chandler. Shortly after he was born, the family relocated to Tacoma, Washington, where Fisher grew up listening to his father sing and play the guitar. Ultimately settling in Houston, Fisher formed the Rocking Boys in the early 1950s after seeing Elvis Presley perform in 1954 at the Paladium. Teaming up with bassist Leonard Curry, drummer Darrell Newsome, and guitarist Joey Long, the group appeared alongside artists such as Elvis, George Jones, and Tommy Sands at shows in Houston and Beaumont. Fisher paid for his own recording session with engineer Bill Quinn at his Gold Star Studios in Houston, and his “Elvis-like” performance caught the attention of Quinn who alerted Jack Starnes of Starday Records. In early 1955 Fisher signed a one-year contract with H.W. “Pappy” Daily of Starday. Daily later recorded J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, George Jones, and others. Starnes served as Fisher’s manager.

Fisher’s next recording session took place in January 1955 at Quinn’s studio. His records released under the Starday label included Rockin’ Daddy/Hold Me Baby, Hey Mama/Sneaky Pete, and I Can’t Lose/Rockin’ and Rollin’; Rockin’ Daddy became a regional hit. After receiving a royalty check from Starday for only $126, however, Fisher refused to sign with the label again. Fisher attempted to start his own record label, Columbus Records. With little success, he left the music scene in 1965 to dedicate his time to his floor-laying business. The singer’s entire 1950s output was composed of a mere eight songs, all recorded in the years 1955 and 1956.


In 1980 Ted Carroll and Roger Armstrong of Ace Records in London gathered the eight songs Fisher had recorded between 1955 and 1956 and combined them on a 10” LP, entitling it Texas Rockabilly. The album launched the record label and caused a popular rockabilly revival throughout Europe. Following the release of Texas Rockabilly, Fisher recorded an EP of new material for the label in May 1980. From 1981 to 1983, he played shows throughout Europe with artists such as Eddie Fontaine, Gene Summers, Billy Hancock, and Jack Scott. After moving back to Texas, Fisher visited Spain in 1993 to record with veteran rockabilly artist Sleepy LaBeef and the Spanish band Los Solitarios. Fisher disappeared from the public eye shortly thereafter. Despite his disappearance, the singer left a lasting impression on Europe, embodying the essence of early Texas rockabilly to his fans. Fisher died on October 8, 2005 in Houston.


GPS Coordinates
29° 54.940, -095° 18.860

Section 47
Brookside Memorial Park
Houston

1 comment:

  1. Here was one of real first cool lookin' and soundin' cats of rock-a-billy! Elvis looked tame by comparision. His bluesy rock-a-billy was never kid stuff music and I kind of doubt if the 'men in suits' as Gene Vincent called them, could control him. His flame still burns brightly in Europe but I am more happy to see him getting his kudos at home in the USA. Ripping licks from Joey Long, great drumming that even impressed Elvis. Sonny Fisher's flame will continue to burn brightly thanks to fans like you.

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