Sonny Payne
Name: Sonny Payne
Occupation: Drummer
Gender: Male
Birth Day: May 4, 1926
Death Date: Jan 29, 1979 (age 52)
Age: Aged 52
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign: Taurus

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Sonny Payne

Sonny Payne was born on May 4, 1926 in United States (52 years old). Sonny Payne is a Drummer, zodiac sign: Taurus. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

Brief Info

Jazz drummer who collaborated with musicians Harry James and Count Basie. He also performed for a time with the big band of Erskine Hawkins.


During the mid 1970s, he toured with saxophonist Illinois Jacquet.

Net Worth 2020

Find out more about Sonny Payne net worth here.

Does Sonny Payne Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Sonny Payne died on Jan 29, 1979 (age 52).


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Before Fame

Early in his career, he played with Hot Lips Page and Tiny Grimes.


Biography Timeline


Payne's father was Wild Bill Davis's drummer Chris Columbus. After early study with Vic Berton, in 1944 Payne started playing professionally around New York with the Dud and Paul Bascomb band, Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic (1945–1947), Tiny Grimes (between 1947 and 1950), and Lucille Dixon (1948).


From 1950 to 1953, Payne played with Erskine Hawkins' big band, and led his own band for two years, but in late December, 1954, he made his most significant move, joining Count Basie's big band for ten years of constant touring and recording. He was originally asked only to temporarily fill in for Basie's ailing regular drummer, but Payne's skillful playing was such a hit with audiences and the band that he was immediately hired to be Basie's permanent drummer.


He left Basie in 1965, leading his own trio and touring with Illinois Jacquet in 1976. He was Frank Sinatra's personal drummer for all of the singer's appearances with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1965 and 1966; in fact, whenever Sinatra sang with Basie in the 1960s, Payne was the drummer. He later rejoined Basie at his wife's urging as the regular drummer (1972–1974). Most of the rest of his career, however, was spent in the Harry James big band, which he joined in December, 1966. He was overseas in Brazil with the Harry James band in December 1978. Upon his return to the US in early January 1979, he contracted the flu and died of pneumonia at the age of 52. When he was dying in the hospital, Harry James paid all of his medical bills and subsequent funeral costs.


Harold Jones, Count Basie's regular drummer from 1967 until 1972, told an interviewer, "I am proud to say that I took everything that I could from Sonny Payne." Butch Miles, Basie's regular drummer for a total of 15 years starting in 1975, told an interviewer, "I took a lot of my cues and a lot of my drumming style from Sonny Payne. When I first joined the band I knew, I knew everything that he had played, so we'd get to a certain point, I'd just play what Sonny had played and it worked." Miles also said, “I memorized all of Sonny Payne’s licks. I tried ‘em, and they worked.” In the early 1990s after Count Basie's death, leader Frank Foster was auditioning a young drummer for the Basie Band. Foster asked the drummer to come back for another audition in six months after the young man had listened to every recording he could find of Sonny Payne drumming with Count Basie.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Sonny Payne is 97 years, 1 months and 1 days old. Sonny Payne will celebrate 98th birthday on a Saturday 4th of May 2024.

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