Sonny Landreth Biography

1 February 1951, Canton, Mississippi, USA. Being born in the birthplace or thereabouts of Elmore James, did not mean that Sonny Landreth had to play slide guitar, but it certainly makes good copy. In fact, after five years in Jackson, Mississippi, the family moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, and Landreth grew up surrounded by Cajun music and its lifestyle. At the age of 10, he began studying trumpet in school, and three years later took up the guitar. At 20, he left college and, with his band Brer Rabbit, moved to Colorado. There he met Robben Ford, and worked in Michael Murphy’s band. He also developed his unique slide technique, chording behind the steel at the 12th fret. Returning to Louisiana, he became involved with several Cajun bands, including Zachary Richard, Beausoleil, Red Beans And Rice, and in 1979 became the first white musician in Clifton Chenier’s band.

Landreth’s first recordings were made for Huey Meaux in 1973. Then, in 1981, he made Blues Attack, the first of two albums for Jay Miller’s Blues Unlimited label. The follow-up Down In Louisiana was issued in 1985. When not playing sessions, Landreth toured with his band, Bayou Rhythm. In 1988, he and the band backed John Hiatt on his Slow Turning album, touring America and Europe as ‘The Goners’. Landreth spent the next two years preparing Outward Bound, eventually released in 1992. This album, and its excellent follow-up South Of 1-10 (1995), led many commentators to compare Landreth to Ry Cooder and David Lindley, but his distinctive blend of rock, blues and Cajun music arguably gives him prominence in the hierarchy of slide guitarists.

Landreth began an association with the Sugar Hill Records label with 2000’s superb Levee Town, which included the Will Jennings co-write ‘Angeline’. After reuniting with John Hiatt and the Goners for the 2001 recording The Tiki Bar Is Open, Landreth returned to solo work for the Grammy-nominated The Road We’re On. The live album Grant Street followed in 2005.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.