Warren Harding "Sonny" Sharrock (August 27, 1940 – May 25, 1994)[1] was an American jazz guitarist. His first wife was singer Linda Sharrock, with whom he recorded and performed.

Sonny Sharrock
Background information
Birth nameWarren Harding Sharrock
Born(1940-08-27)August 27, 1940
Ossining, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 25, 1994(1994-05-25) (aged 53)
Ossining, New York, U.S.
GenresFree jazz, punk jazz, experimental, rock
Years active1966–1994

One of only a few prominent guitarists who participated in the first wave of free jazz during the 1960s, Sharrock was known for his heavily chorded attack, highly amplified bursts of feedback, and use of aggressive sustain to achieve saxophone-like lines on guitar. His early work also features creative use of a slide.

Biography edit

Early life and career edit

He was born in Ossining, New York, United States.[1] Sharrock began his musical career singing doo wop in his teen years.[1] He collaborated with Pharoah Sanders and Alexander Solla in the late 1960s, appearing first on Sanders's 1966 album, Tauhid.[1] He made several appearances with flautist Herbie Mann,[1] and an uncredited appearance on Miles Davis's A Tribute to Jack Johnson.

He wanted to play tenor saxophone from his youth after hearing John Coltrane on Davis's Kind of Blue on the radio at age 19, but his asthma prevented this. Sharrock said repeatedly, however, that he still considered himself "a horn player with a really fucked up axe."[2]

Three albums under Sharrock's name were released from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s: Black Woman[1] (which has been described by one reviewer as bringing out the beauty in emotions rather than technical prowess), Monkey-Pockie-Boo, and an album co-credited to Sharrock and his wife Linda, Paradise (work by which Sharrock was embarrassed, having stated several times that he felt it was not good enough to be reissued).[3][4]

Career revival edit

After the release of Paradise, Sharrock was semi-retired for much of the 1970s and early 1980s. Undergoing a divorce from his wife and collaborator Linda in 1978, he worked as both a chauffeur and a caretaker for mentally challenged children. At producer Bill Laswell’s urging, Sharrock came out of retirement to appear on Material's 1981 album, Memory Serves. Starting in 1986, Sharrock was a member of the punk/jazz band Last Exit, with Laswell, saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson.[1] During the late 1980s, he performed extensively (and occasionally recorded) with the New York-based improvising band Machine Gun, as well as leading his own band. Sharrock flourished with Laswell's help, noting in a 1991 interview that "the last five years have been pretty strange for me, because I went twelve years without making a record at all, and then in the last five years, I've made seven records under my own name. That's pretty strange."[5]

Laswell produced most of Sharrock's later recordings, including the entirely solo Guitar, the "metal-influenced" Seize the Rainbow, followed by one of his more universally accessible albums, High Life. Sonny said this was his favorite band ever, with Abe Speller on percussion, Lance Carter on drums, Charles Baldwin on bass and David Snider on keyboards. This was followed by the well-received Ask the Ages, which featured John Coltrane's bandmates Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones. "Who Does She Hope to Be?" is a lyrical piece harkening back to the Coltrane/Davis Kind of Blue sessions that had inspired him to play in the first place. One writer described Ask the Ages as "hands down, Sharrock's finest hour, and the ideal album to play for those who claim to hate jazz guitar."[6] Sharrock did the soundtrack to the Cartoon Network program Space Ghost Coast to Coast with his drummer Lance Carter, one of the last projects he completed in the studio before his death.[1] The season 3 episode "Sharrock" carried a dedication to him at the end, and previously unheard music that he had recorded for the show featured throughout most of the episode. "Sharrock" premiered as the 23rd episode on March 1, 1996, on Cartoon Network.[citation needed]

Death edit

On May 25, 1994, Sharrock died of a heart attack in his hometown of Ossining, New York, on the verge of signing the first major label deal of his career.[1] He was 53.[1] He is survived by his second wife, Dannette Hill and their daughter, Jasmyn Sharrock.

Tributes edit

French guitarist Noël Akchoté's 2004 album Sonny II features tracks written, performed and inspired by Sharrock. In August 2010, S. Malcolm Street in Ossining was officially renamed "Sonny Sharrock Way".[7][8] A sign was erected on Saturday, October 2, 2010.[9] Sharrock was also inducted into Ossining High School's Hall of Fame.

Discography edit

As leader or co-leader edit

With Last Exit

As sideman edit

With Pheeroan akLaff

  • Sonogram (Mu Works, 1989)

With Roy Ayers

With Ginger Baker

With Brute Force

  • Brute Force (Embryo, 1970)

With Don Cherry

With Miles Davis

With Green Line

With Byard Lancaster

With F. Robert Lloyd

  • Think About Brooklyn (Delabel DE 391 382, 1993)

With Machine Gun

  • Machine Gun (Mu, 1988)
  • Open Fire (Mu, 1989)

With Herbie Mann

With Material

With Pharoah Sanders

With Wayne Shorter

With The Stalin

With Marzette Watts

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sonny Sharrock | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Stagener, Dave. (1998). Sound Practices Mailing List Files - Volume 1. Subject: Re: Jazz Tips. Retrieved January 5, 2008, from "Joelist Threaded Files". Archived from the original on 2004-10-10. Retrieved 2004-09-14.
  3. ^ "with Sonny Sharrock, hosted by Ben Ratliff, 1989". 5 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-05-05. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  4. ^ Flynn, Ed & Sharrock, Sonny. (1993). Sounds & Voices of the Avant-Garde: Excerpts from an Interview with Sonny Sharrock, Hosted, Edited and Produced by Ed Flynn, WPKN-FM, 89.5, Bridgeport, Air Date 6/9/93. Retrieved January 5, 2008, from "With Sonny Sharrock, hosted by ed Flynn, 1993". Archived from the original on 2006-07-17. Retrieved 2006-08-13.
  5. ^ "Sonny Sharrock -- Sweet Butterfingers". Archived from the original on 2014-09-01. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
  6. ^ "Sonny Sharrock". Trouserpress.com. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Music of Sonny Sharrock: Welcome". Sonnysharrock.com. Archived from the original on 2014-06-28. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  8. ^ Sonny Sharrock Way. "Sonny Sharrock Way, Ossining, NY". Google Maps. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  9. ^ "Sonny Sharrock Street Dedication Ceremony on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2014-07-18.

External links edit