(Double click images to enlarge)
After graduation I went to Sam Houston State in Huntsville for two years, majoring in commercial art. I met a friend in the dorm next door who also played guitar, wrote songs, and sang. We began to rehearse, won some talent shows and soon had a recording contract. We recorded as "Gary and Sonny" and had two local hits. After Gary and I split up, I began singing with that great group of ex-buffaloes called the "Mystics" who were with the same recording company Gary and I had been with. The Mystics had a very big hit with an old Clyde McPhatter song called "Without Love". Tom Jones covered it several years later. Anyway, that song was # 2 in Houston, but was actually # 1 in California and several other states. Didn't matter much...we got messed around out of our royalties, like so many other groups of that time.
I had hired on with IBM in their art department even before NASA came to Houston, and eventually worked for them 30 years. My last eight years were in management, and when they wanted me to transfer to Dallas, I decided I'd take an early out. The offer was a very good one and I was able to just play tennis and do my music and art for six months before going back to work.
In 1991, I married Elaine, who is my second wife. This photo was taken when Elaine and I were on our honeymoon in Jamaica. I remained close friends with my first wife (married 23 years and she was the mother of my kids) and we see each other often. Elaine and I have a "tax & bookkeeping" company with 200 clients, and stay very busy. I guess I should say "she stays very busy".... I only work 25 or 30 hours a week these days, but I'm still doing music, and have an eight piece horn-band called "American Boogie". If any of you old buffaloes ever see us playing near-by, we do 60's, 70's and 80's and I'd love for you to come out and hear us...you won't be sorry!! I didn't attend the last two reunions, so I don't know if you're using a band or a DJ, but if you budget for a band, give us a listen.
This is the Gospel Quartet called "Glorybound" (2001), four guys from my church choir, (Sagemont Church in Houston). We performed together for a couple of years.
One more point of interest...and I'll try not to be long-winded, but I really must tell you this. When I was still married to, but separated from, my first wife in 1977, I took my little girls swimming one afternoon, dove into the pool and broke my neck in two places.
This photo was taken in 1977. I was going to submit about 50 pieces of 3 dimensional art to a showing. I broke my neck shortly after this picture was taken.
My 5th vertebra was in splinters, and my 6th was in several larger pieces. There wasn't a soul around the pool but me and my daughters. As I was passing in and out of consciousness, suddenly there were two men there who came into the pool, held me up, and eventually walked me up and out of the pool. They put me in the back of my wife's van, and she bounced me all over Pasadena getting me to Bayshore hospital. We never saw those men again.
At Bayshore, they Life-Flighted me to Herman Hospital and put me into traction. I had no feeling in my arms or legs, and they told my wife I would almost certainly be a paraplegic if not a quad, due to the extent of my injuries. Over the course of the next few weeks, every single thing that could go wrong did! It would take far too long for me to tell you all the particulars, but whenever I give my testimony to people, it's hard for them to believe the number of really traumatic events that seemed to plague me for weeks.
Eventually, I was put in a "halo", which I'm sure most people are familiar with these days. But back then, they were relatively new and unproved. I think I received only the 5th one installed in Houston. The halo was held in place by four posts that were screwed into the skull. The older ones had metal supports that went down and attached to a plexiglass waistband that had been molded to fit the patient. This enabled a patient who was bed-ridden (in traction), to actually get up and walk...albeit, not very well. I tried to adjust, but over the ten days that I wore mine, I had an infection in my head, my hospital bed completely collapsed one night, and my halo hooked on the ceiling of my mom's car when I tried to get up out of my seat. It was never the same afterwards.
When I no longer could take the pain, I asked my mom to please take me to the hospital and just have me put back into bed until the doctors had some idea when they would operate. They would not do it previously because the pieces surrounding my vertebrae would almost surely sever or damage the spinal cord. The night before returning to the hospital, the only position I could get in to avoid horrible pain was on my knees. By now, you've probably guessed where this is going. Anyway, I had experienced so much over the last few years that while I was on my knees, I just told God, "If you're really there, I'm tired of trying to run my own life. I've made a pretty big mess of things, and I think I'm ready for you to take the reins.”
Again, I'll have to cut to the chase because there's just too much to try to get in. The next morning we drove to Herman Hospital in a driving rain at 7:30 in the morning. It took us two hours and I thought I was going to die. When we got there they rolled me into an Operating Room that was already in use because they were all full. When they began to reverse those screws from my skull, a hot white heat went from my head to my toes. I know it was white...I saw it even though my eyes were closed.
I had not slept all night, but had stayed on my knees to ease the pain. When I woke up, my mom told me they had x-rayed me while I was asleep, and there was no break in my neck at all. No break, no pieces, not even a crack....my neck was perfect! The doctors, all five of them, just shook their heads in amazement. I mean, what are they going to attribute that to? I have had to tell that story many times, in much more detail (if you can imagine that), and I couldn't have the attention of my old friends and not share it one more time.
Throughout the years, I have never had a neck problem or any related pain at all, and my chiropractor tells me to this day that if she didn't know me personally she would never believe I had ever had a broken neck, and she has x-rayed it many times. I'd just like to say...He's real, He's faithful, and He'll do whatever's necessary to get your attention.
I sincerely hope everyone gets involved in the blog at some level. We all go through life thinking we have plenty of time.......not so!
Kay Burg Moseley sent this photo of Sonny and the guys a few years back. Be sure to read Kay's comment (about 25 comments down). The guys are: Charlie Smith, far left; Wally Sisk, front; Joe Simmons, back; and Sonny, far right. (Karla)
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