May 1, 1929
James Hugh Loden, who performed as Sonny James, was born in Hackleburg, Alabama, on May 1, 1929. As a 4-year-old, he made his singing debut with his sister, Thelma, on WMSD in Muscle Shoals. He was a championship fiddle player and guitarist and grew up performing on radio shows with his family’s band.
James began his solo career in 1953 with “That’s Me Without You” and “The Cat Came Back.” His 1956 record, “Young Love,” became a No. 1 hit, charting in all radio markets, except classical.
During his career, James recorded numerous country hits – many of which crossed over to the pop charts. He had 43 records that made it to the Top Ten and 21 that became No. 1 hits.
James was the first country music star to be included on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the first host of the Country Music Association Awards. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and received its Lifework Award in 1987. In 2006, James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.