Sonny Burgess, Legendary Rockabilly Guitarist, Dead at 88

(Image credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Sonny Burgess, Sun Records veteran and legendary rockabilly guitarist, died August 18. He was 88.

While not one of Sun's most famous mid-Fifties alumni, Burgess was integral to early rockabilly, sharing bills with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash with his band, the Moonlighters.

Burgess' debut single for Sun—"Red Headed Woman"/"We Wanna Boogie"—was one of the label's most raw, unpolished rockabilly tunes; it perfectly captured the rebellious spirit of the genre.

Burgess never lost his touch, performing consistently with various groups—most notably Rockabilly Hall of Famers Sonny Burgess and the Pacers—for the remainder of his life.

Below, you can watch him tear through "Red Headed Woman" at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum Theater in 2015, when he was 85.

For more information about Burgess and his career, you can stop by the Pacers' website.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.