Former Dire Straits Guitarist Jack Sonni Tragically Passed Away At 68
via BEST Knopfler LIVE / Youtube
Dire Straits’ former guitarist Jack Sonni has died of an unknown cause at the of 68, his former band members announced on Thursday night.
The news was shared through the official Facebook page of Dire Straits Legacy, a group comprised of musicians who recorded and toured with the band. Sonni was actively on tour with the said musicians.
“Our beloved Jack has left a void in our heart and soul… we will miss you so much, you are forever with us,” Dire Straits Legacy wrote.
Dire Straits’ official X (formerly Twitter) confirmed the death of Sonni, who was fondly known as the “other guitarist” alongside frontman and founder Mark Knopfler on their Brothers in Arms tour.
— Dire Straits 🎸 (@DireStraits77) August 31, 2023
Although no cause of death has been revealed yet, Dire Straits Legacy’s Facebook posted on Monday that Sonni will not be able to participate in the band’s upcoming gigs due to unspecified “health problems”.
Born on December 9, 1954, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Sonni developed a strong passion for music during his early years. He relocated to New York in the 1970s and embarked on a career as a session musician.
He crossed paths with siblings David and Mark Knopfler while working at a music store in 1978. The brothers had just founded Dire Straits the previous year with bassist John Illsley and drummer Pick Withers.
After former guitarist Hal Lindes left the band, Knopfler asked Sonni to help them record their fifth album Brothers in Arms.
The album would become their most commercially successful record with hits like “Money for Nothing” and “Walk of Life.” Sonni also joined the subsequent tour and the Live Aid performance of the band as “the man in the red coat”.
The final date of the Brothers in Arms tour on April 26, 1986, in Sydney, Australia, was the last time Sonni would play for Dire Straits.
He recounted, “I stood on the steps of the hotel and waved goodbye to the entire band as they left for the airport to fly back to the UK. I stayed in Australia and went surfing! Of course, I had no idea that was the last time I would see the band.”
Sonni somewhat retired from music in 1988 after his twin daughters were born, but returned to the stage in recent years to lend his services to Dire Straits Legacy. In the meantime, the guitarist took on a role as vice president of marketing for Guitar Center while also trying his hand at writing crime fiction.
“Jack performs with enthusiasm and a spontaneity that is a joy to behold, and has played with countless top musicians in every corner of the United States, and always with passion and a rock attitude par excellence,” his band member bio on Dire Straits Legacy reads.
Tributes poured in from both fans and other members of the band, who fondly remembered the talented Sonni as a “hell of a musician” and a “hero”.
Former Dire Straits keyboardist wrote on his Facebook, “It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say my friend and Dire Straits’ colleague has left us. Rest in peace, amigo”
— Dire Straits 🎸 (@DireStraits77) July 7, 2019
“So sorry to hear the sad news that Jack Sonni has died, we loved having him with us on the Brothers in Arms tour, fond memories,” Illsley also wrote on a Facebook post that featured him, Knopfler, and Sonni in his famous red coat.
On June 1st this year, Sonni reminded his Facebook friends and followers to “be in the moment”. The post continued: “Celebrate the here and now. Don’t dwell in the past. Cherish the memories. And above all – hug them while you can, chilluns.”