Sonny Sharrock

"…I don't think that 'first' is important, I think it's that it's the first time for you… I mean, that's what originality is all about, because the first sound made was all the music that's ever gonna be played, that's it, that sound, the first sound made had all the notes that there are, so there's nothing about being the first. But being original has to do with it never having been done this way …"
— Sonny Sharrock

Although I hear your sounds, Lord knows I miss your words.

That baritone voice.

A taster's choice.

Your wise thoughts and comedic snippets.

Was comfort for the soul.

Ailing the hurts of a wounded spirit.

Filling our glass of happiness from half to whole.

Although I hear your sounds, Lord knows I miss your words.

Nevertheless, in my quest to Seize the Rainbow.

I'll bask in the glow of your Highlife.

With my beautiful Black Woman by my side.

Sharing love in Paradise.

Sonny, I often Ask the Ages questions about what could've been.

Still, I'm grateful for the times we had.

I'm grateful for all the moments we shared.

I'm grateful for the all the laughs.

I'm grateful for the words that filled the air.

- Rory Sharrock

"I'm a horn player with a really fucked up axe."
— Sonny Sharrock

What I will remember most about Sonny Sharrock - even before the
music -
will be the laughter...the sense of humor
The fun
We laughed a lot
We laughed at the conditions that we had to tolerate
to continue doing creative music
We laughed at the reaction - the response to that music -
from the journalists, the audience, even the musicians -
the same sad, phony, lost motherfuckers who will show up now to say
How great he was
How overlooked and underrated he was
How he could have done so much more...
We laughed a lot
But this part is serious
Serious as a heart attack
Peace Sonny
You gave a lot...more than they'll ever know
— Bill Laswell, May 30, 1994

"I've had guys come up to me… and tell me how they were inventing new horns to get a new sound. But they never said anything about getting some new feeling… I'd ask those people, 'Don't forget the feeling. The music is about feeling.' …You have to think like Coltrane, you know, and just say, 'I'm gonna blow my heart out in this horn - every night.' And that's what music should be about."
Sonny Sharrock

Sonny! We saw the beauty before you left. Such a beautiful solo, heart open for all to touch, soul dancing on strings, the fine tuning of the smile, nothing left in the past but the future! You were fun...Sonny, so much fun You laugh...I cry! You laugh....I cry for your presence in this moment of depression! Sonny, I love the music too...I want to be human too...a poem for the musician in Death! And Life must go on, not to miss you Sonny...not to glorify you, not to must listen to the understanding of your real friends, know how much there was left to give, a quick smile and then serious again, always the music... Peace, Sonny!
— Umar Bin Hassan, Last Poets, May 28, 1994

"The best reaction to my music I've ever gotten was during my first trip to Europe with Herbie Mann in 1970. A guy in Berlin rushed down the aisle screaming "This is not jazz! This is not jazz! This is not jazz!"
— Sonny Sharrock


Bring in the noise.
Bring in the funk.
The rhythm of your guitar strings.
Quick as lightening.
Avant-garde jazz.
Blended to perfection with a taste doo-wop soul.
Produced your unique sound.
That had us all spellbound.
Musical mastermind.
Gone in the physical form.
Nevertheless, you remain timeless.
And our love for you continues.
Like precious jewels in a treasure chest.
Bring in the noise.
Bring in the funk.
Pump up the volume.
Until the speakers bleed.
A guitar rift so powerful.
It makes the mountains fall into the sea.
Sonny, boy do we miss you.
You were a man who wore many hats.
Dearest son, husband and father.
Eldest brother, uncle and cousin.
A bandleader on stage and off, a loyal friend.
Gone in the physical form.
But just like your music.
Our love for you knows no end.

— Rory Sharrock

"I go out on stage, and my intention is to make the first four rows bleed from their ears."
— Sonny Sharrock

"The thing about having Sonny for a Dad is that everyone loved him just as much as I did. Aside from the music (which is never really put aside) - he was just a fantastic, brilliant, funny, gentle human being and probably the best person I've ever known."
— Jasmyn Sharrock

"If you think you've heard everything an electric guitar can do, but the name Sonny Sharrock doesn't ring any bells, it's time for you to think again.

Sharrock wasn't just 'ahead of his time.' Like a freight train roaring through a darkened station not just hours but weeks ahead of schedule, Sharrock was here and gone before anybody even knew he was coming.

The bursts of wall-rattling shiver and clang have been augmented by an equally intense concentration on the purest, most liquid guitar tone and by a simple, stirring lyricism."
— Robert Palmer, Rolling Stone Magazine

"Of the electric guitar's few proponents in avant-garde jazz, Sonny Sharrock is easily the most influential; he was one of the earliest guitarists to even attempt free playing, along with Derek Bailey and Sonny Greenwich. Sharrock's visceral aggression and monolithic sheets of noise were influenced by the screaming overtones of saxophonists like Coltrane, Sanders, and Ayler, and his experiments with distortion and feedback predated even Jimi Hendrix. Naturally, he provoked much hostility among traditionalists, but once his innovations were assimilated, he enjoyed wide renown in avant-garde circles."
— All Music Guide

"Unschooled improvisors, splatter punks and Grunge guitarists have copied Sharrock's rip, roar and howl. Remember: he was there first, before Hendrix's Are You Experienced?, before McLaughlin's Devotion, before P-Funk and harmolodics, Sonny Sharrock played bad when bad was bad. The evidence remains. You can still hear him."
Howard Mandel, The Wire