When Sonny Knight returned to the stage and studio a few years ago, it was not just a revival of his career – it was a boost for Minnesota’s soul music scene.
Knight found his greatest musical success after turning 65 but he didn’t make it to age 70. His record label, Secret Stash, announced Saturday that Knight has died at age 69.
In March he had suspended his tour to focus on his cancer treatments. Knight said then: “It’s incredible all the people that have come out and given us so much love and support….After my treatment, I’ll be back to give that love back to the people.“
Sonny Knight was born in Mississippi but moved to St. Paul as a child.
As this bio relates, his first record came out in 1965 when “Little Sonny Knight and the Cymbals” put out a song on the New Teenage label. Appropriate, since Sonny was all of 17 years old.
In the 1970s he was with a funk band called Haze, his record label says, but by then he’d started drifting away from music. He served with the Army in Vietnam and later became a long-haul truck driver.
In 2013, though, his passion for soul music was reignited. With a new backing band, the Lakers, his comeback release, I’m Still Here, launched him to more success than he’d known in his youth.
“These are dreams that I had forgotten. Only now that they are starting to come true do I remember that I had them at all,” he said at the time.
Sad to hear of the passing of Sonny Knight. A great singer & a kind man—Grateful I had opportunity to write about his talents. RIP, Sonny.❤️ pic.twitter.com/2ikK2fOpMj
— Erik Thompson (@eriktmpls) June 17, 2017
The success of I’m Still Here led to a tour that produced a live album. His follow-up studio record, Sooner or Later, came out last year.
Along the way, Knight collaborated with a couple of alumni from James Brown’s band, produced a soul revue at the Fitzgerald Theater in his hometown of St. Paul, and was featured in a special on Twin Cities PBS.
Here’s the music video for the title track to I’m Still Here: