DIRE Straits guitarist Jack Sonni has died aged 68 after the rock ‘n’ roll band announced his sudden death.
The London-based band announced Sonny’s death in a heartbreaking announcement on Thursday.
Dire Straits guitarist Jack Sonni dies aged 68 (right) Credit: Rex
Unlike his Dire Straits bandmates, Jack Sonny was born in America Credit: @DireStraits77/Twitter
Sonni performed alongside stars Mark Knopfler and Sting at the famous Live Aid concert in 1985. Credit: Getty
Alongside a black-and-white photo of Sonny, the band wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, “#JackSonni Rest in Peace. #DireStraits.”
The cause of the musician’s death has not been revealed.
Sonni was known as the “second guitarist” during the Brothers in Arms era of the London band.
Brothers in Arms was the band’s fifth album, released in 1985, and is often recognized as one of the best-selling albums in the world.
The album spent 14 consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart and nine weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States.
The album won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album in 1986 and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
Unlike his Dire Straits bandmates, Sonni was born in America.
Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, about 58 miles east of Pittsburgh, Sonni’s love for music blossomed while employed at the iconic Rudy’s Music Stop guitar store in New York City in the 1970s.
While at Rudy’s Music Stop, he met the band’s co-founders and brothers, David and Mark Knopfler.
LIVE AT WEMBLEY STADIUM
In 1984 he visited the Knopflers in London after David had left the band and was asked to join the band on a recording session for Brothers in Arms.
Sonni played alongside Dire Straits during the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium.
Describing his experience at Live Aid, he said it was: “Exciting, surreal and a dream come true.
“It was an amazing, special day not just for me but for the world, and I’m grateful and proud to have been a part of it.”
Music fans paid tribute to Sonny after news of his death broke.
One fan recalled seeing him perform twice during The Brothers in Arms Tour and posted on X: “He made his red coat iconic at Live Aid.”
Another said: “Jack embraced the philosophy of living well and living in the now in pursuit of creating memorable moments with friends and family.”
Dire Straits fans said they remember him for his performance of the group’s 1985 hit Tunnel of Love.
Hundreds of fans posted tributes on the musician’s Facebook page.
‘THE SECOND GUITARIST’
In several interviews, Sonni joked about his nickname “the second guitarist” in Dire Straits.
Speaking to Ring Side Report, he said: “Over the years people have introduced me as the guitarist in Dire Straits, and most people would say, ‘But isn’t that Mark Knopfler?’
“And I’d say, ‘Yeah, I’m the second guitar player.'”
Sonni left Dire Straits in 1988 and left the music industry before, in his words, getting “a day job in marketing and advertising and focusing on raising his twin daughters”.
He first worked at Seymour Duncan, then Rivera Guitar Amplifiers, before spending several years as director of marketing communications at Line 6, a manufacturer of digital technology products for musicians.
In June 2021, Sonni was living in the small town of Taylor, Mississippi.
Speaking to The Martha’s Vineyard Times at the time about his life, he said: “Both my grandfathers were miners. One Italian and one Polish, and one lost an arm in a mining accident.
“It kind of sparked this whole thing about the mines and trying to escape where you come from and not being able to.
“I’ve led a nomadic life for decades. Despite all my world travels, I’m a western Pennsylvania kid.”
Hundreds of fans posted tributes to the musician onlineCredit: Getty