Alphonso “Sonny” Thompson was one of the more versatile all-around contributors to rock’s first fifteen years as an artist, songwriter, bandleader, producer and A&R director for a variety of labels.

Born in 1916, Thompson attended the Chicago Conservatory Of Music and was got his start professionally recording on the tiny Sultan label in 1946 before joining Miracle where he was mainly playing behind other artists throughout 1947. It was the instrumentals he cut at the tail end of these sessions for various singers that set his career off in another direction when the first of them, “Long Gone Part 1 & 2” became the biggest hit of 1948, in the process launching the two-part single and establishing the slow seductive groove of rock instrumentals to act in contrast to the more flamboyant honking sides that were making waves at the same time.

He followed it up with another #1 hit later that year, but soon settled into a career that took himself largely out of the spotlight, preferring instead to back other artists in the studio – most notably for King Records in the early 1950’s – but also to produce the records.

He still toured and recorded however with a new female vocalist (and soon his wife) Lula Reed, scoring hits in the mid-50’s with her before taking A&R positions at Chart Records, Chess Records and then in the early 1960’s returning to King Records where he helped shape blues-rock guitarist Freddie King’s early successes.

His songwriting and production credits are extensive, the number of hits he played on behind other artists were equally notable, but it was Thompson’s early instrumental hits and the influence they had on rock’s early course which remained his most lasting legacy. He died in 1989 just shy of 73 years old.
SONNY THOMPSON DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
(Miracle 126; March, 1948)
A tight, hypnotic, churning groove spread over two sides cut on different dates. Part One is highlighted by the interplay of Thompson’s piano and Arvin Garrett’s guitar, while the hit Part Two adds Eddie Chamblee’s sultry sax to the mix. An atmospheric gem that will put you in a trance. (8)

(Miracle 128; August, 1948)
A moody piece that had no trouble hitting the top of the charts coming on the heels of his last outing, but possessing a more laid-back groove without the addictive qualities of its predecessor and thus not quite as memorable. (6)

(Miracle 128; August, 1948)
Sparse instrumental which, deprived of attitude and the atmospheric touches of Eddie Chamblee’s saxophone, has little melodic direction and no moments to stand out and be noticed. (3)

(Miracle 131; February, 1949)
Had rock not taken over so emphatically when it did this is the milder direction black popular music might’ve gone instead, an unlikely minor hit thanks largely to Thompson’s name recognition from a band capable of much more. (3)

(Miracle 131; February, 1949)
Another record in stylistic limbo, this one featuring some mellow Eddie Chamblee sax work that is fairly nice followed by some flighty sax work by Chamblee which is not so nice adding up to directionless confusion. (3)

(Miracle 139; July, 1949)
What had all the makings of an unimaginative rip-off of his biggest hit, right down to bringing back Eddie Chamblee to guest on it and splitting it into two parts, turns out to be incredibly inventive and well played… tangibly connected to its predecessor but thoroughly modernized. (7)

(Miracle 146; October, 1949)
A misguided attempt at showing he was more than just a master of the groove, Thompson’s florid piano solo is the worst aspect of this, while the best part, relatively speaking, are the horns when they attempt to pick up the slack and groove on their own. (3)

(Miracle 146; October, 1949)
Though fairly nicely played, this steps way too far outside the rock parameters for its qualities to be appreciated in this realm as its jazzy supper club vibe indicates Thompson may have been growing weary of the basic rock formula. (2)

(Miracle 148; November, 1949)
Though it hardly references Christmas much once you open the wrapping paper this is a decent effort featuring Thompson’s first vocals backed with a solid instrumental track making this a gift that might not have much use but one you’ll be happy to receive all the same. (5)

(Miracle 148; November, 1949)
Thompson’s harsh diss to an ugly woman who is infatuated with him is hardly very Christmasy but while we don’t condone the sentiments he manages to be cooly charming in a way and the laid back music is a step in the right direction following recent misfires. (5)

(Old Swing Master 1011, December, 1949)
A two-part instrumental that is far too up and down to make much of an impression, the best parts coming from the relaxed swagger of a tenor sax and an all-too brief guitar solo, while Thompson himself tends to get too jazzy while the other horns overstay their welcome. (4)

(King 4345; March, 1950)
A pleasant record with a melody that would remain in circulation for years, one suitable for a variety of uses and in any style that needs it, and which is handled here with typically understated class by Thompson and his crew. (5)

(King 4345; March, 1950)
A solid unobtrusive song, suitable for dancing or background ambiance in a smoky crowded club, featuring a churning groove, good interlocking horn parts and played with admirable efficiency by everyone involved. (6)

(King 4364; May, 1950)
An interesting, if not altogether completely successful, hybrid record which combines the jazzy piano of Thompson with some far more appropriate raunchy tenor sax, all of it well played and fitting together without letting the seams show too much. (5)

(King 4364; May, 1950)
A beautifully played and arranged jazzy mood piece that shows off Thompson’s versatility and prodigious skills without being altogether suited for rock ‘n’ roll, though it’s got just enough suggestive ambiance to let it in. (6)

(King 4384; July, 1950)
With its vaguely Middle-Eastern hook played by the horns to open and close the record, there’s an exotic mesmerizing feel that they tap into and though its ambitions don’t go far beyond that, it still makes for an enjoyable ride off the beaten track. (6)

(King 4399; September, 1950)
A tale of two songs, the early and late hook are mesmerizing and familiar for future audiences who may recognize what it inspired, but the middle section finds Thompson indulging in avant garde pseudo jazz, curtailing your interest in the process. (5)

(King 4431; February, 1951)
Mesmerizing slow groove of a record where the parts are locked in – Thompson’s repetitive piano behind the horns playing an alluring riff – with a sax and guitar solo that maintain the same basic feel until you are completely hypnotized. (7)

(King 4446; May, 1951)
Though the idea is okay and the rugged structure works alright, the comic intent of the lyrics fall flat because Jesse Edwards who was drafted to sing it is focused less on drawing laughs and more on the technical aspects and without the humor there’s not point in it all. (4)

(King 4446; May, 1951)
A smartly conceived and well executed attempt to recreate the feel of his biggest hit without copying it altogether which benefits from some great guitar work by William Singler and a deep groove that seems as though it could hold your interest for eternity. (7)

(King 4446; May, 1951)
Though Thompson’s piano is prominently featured this is more Henry Glover’s record as the producer wrote this to try and explore different musical textures than his usual fare while still adhering to a rock structure and with Jesse Edwards’ expressive vocals makes it work. (6)