Meet session legend Vernon Ice Black’s mythical ‘Sunnie’ Strat, the guitar that appears on some of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston’s biggest hits… and features a “whoop-de-do button”

Vernon Ice Black
(Image credit: Vertex Effects / YouTube)

Vernon Ice Black is one of his generation’s great session guitar players. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll recognize his work. Anyone who has been near a radio in the past 30 years will.

For some 13 years, Black was a first-call guitarist for Mariah Carey. He has played with Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock, and also served as musical director for the Spice Girls, which is a rare thing for a guitarist – the MD is a role typically given to keys players. 

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.