Local Wire

Sonny Rhodes

Some 50-odd years ago, deep in the bowels of Texas, a young sharecropper's son was hired by a white family to stand silently in the parlor and crank the arm on the Victrola. As the strains of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith pumped out of the horn and into his head, the young man realized early on which church to pick. Sure enough, 50-odd years later, Sonny Rhodes (n Clarence Smith) is known as a master of steel lap guitar and Texas blues who is forever intoning his mantra: "The blues is my religion." Chowing down early on T-Bone Walker, B.B. King, and Pee Wee Crayton, Rhodes made his name in the '50s and '60s playing bass with Freddie King and Albert Collins. He cut a soulful swath through American and European vinyl during the '70s, '80s, and '90s with his shuffling, twanging, snaking blues burners. Lately, he's been known as the guy who does the theme song to the Fox series Firefly, but you should probably remember him as the best kind of religious nut to ever come out of Texas.
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Matthew Neff