Born May 4, 1926 in New
Died Jan 29, 1979 in Los
Sonny Payne had the bigest opportunity of his
lifetime as the drummer for Count Basie's big band. It was ideal
for Payne as he fitted in perfectly with pianist Basie
and guitarist Freddie Green.
Sonny Paynes father was drummer Chris
Payne studied early on with Vic Berton and
In 1944 he began a professional, playing with
the Dud & Paul Bascomb band, Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic
(1945-47) and Tiny Grimes (off and on during 1947-50).
Payne spent from 1950-53 with the Erskine
Hawkins Orchestra and led his own band for two years.. With
Count Basie during 1955-65, Sonny Payne toured constantly, and
appeared on many classic recordings. After leaving in 1965, he
briefly led a trio, worked with Frank Sinatra and then had a
long stint with Harry James' Big Band (1966-73); James always
did want his band to sound like Basie's!
In his later years Sonny Payne had a short second period with
Count (1973-74), toured Europe with Illinois Jacquet and also
returned to James' orchestra shortly before his death. Sonny
Payne never led a record date of his own but was on many Basie
records, some by James plus a few combo dates.