Sonny Sharrock Biography

Warren Harding Sharrock, 27 August 1940, Ossining, New York, USA, d. 26 May 1994, Ossining, New York, USA. Now regarded as one of the most remarkable guitarists in contemporary jazz, Sharrock was a late starter, teaching himself the instrument at the age of 20. Before that he sang in a doo-wop group, the Echoes. He recorded with them for Alan Freed but the tracks were never released. When he was 21 he spent a few months studying formally at Berklee College Of Music. Starting in 1965 he worked with a succession of major names in the avant garde (including Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry, Sunny Murray and Olatunji, John Gilmore and Byard Lancaster) then from 1967-73 provided the ‘outside’ element in Herbie Mann’s band.

In 1970 he contributed to ‘Yesternow’, the second part of Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson. In 1973 he formed a band with his then wife, Linda Sharrock (Chambers), but was relatively quiet until he emerged in 1982 to record with Bill Laswell’s Material. In 1986, he played with Laswell, Peter Brötzmann, and Ronald Shannon Jackson in Last Exit. After a fascinating and innovative solo album, Guitar, he established a more conventional band which toured successfully with packages organized by New York’s Knitting Factory club. In 1991 he released Ask The Ages, with an all-star quartet containing Sanders, Charnett Moffett and Elvin Jones. Sharrock died of a heart attack in May 1994.

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

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