Sonny Curtis

Induction Year: 1991

Birth Name: Sonny Curtis

Birth Date: 05-09-1937

Place of Birth: Meadow, Texas

As a hit country and pop songwriter, Sonny Curtis has been responsible for five songs that have been broadcast more than a million times apiece: "More Than I Can Say," "Walk Right Back," "I Fought the Law," "The Straight Life" and "Love Is All Around." As a member of the Crickets, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Curtis was raised on the outskirts of Lubbock. At an early age, he became fascinated with the guitar, and by the time he was a teenager he had mastered the instrument. At age 14, he formed a group called the Three Tunes with future star Buddy Holly. The band recorded in Nashville in 1956 but had no success. The following year, Webb Pierce had a hit with Curtis' song "Someday."

Curtis' guitar skill led to a job with Slim Whitman's band, which was around the same time that his former band became the Crickets. Following Holly's 1959 death, the Crickets recorded their first LP without him, featuring Curtis on lead vocals. It contained the songwriter's first two pop standards, the rocker "I Fought the Law" and the ballad "More Than I Can Say." Curtis next joined the Everly Brothers' band. While he was serving in the Army, the duo recorded his evergreen song "Walk Right Back."

Following his discharge, Curtis found work in Los Angeles as an ad jingle writer, a recording artist and a session guitarist. His acoustic guitar work can be heard on the Vicki Lawrence classic "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," among many other recordings. He also recorded a 1964 solo instrumental flamenco guitar LP.

In 1970, he composed "Love Is All Around" as the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. During its 1970-77 run on CBS-TV, Curtis could be heard singing it during the opening credits each week as the star tossed her hat into the air.

As a recording artist, Curtis had been a presence on the country charts since the 1960s, and he moved to the Nashville area in 1976. His "I'm No Stranger to the Rain" won the 1989 CMA Single of the Year award for singer Keith Whitley. In 1990, Curtis won an Emmy Award for writing and singing the theme song of the Burt Reynolds TV series Evening Shade.

"A Fool Never Learns"

Andy Williams1964 #4 adult contemporary, #13 pop
Bobby Vee1964 
The Wilburn Brothers1964 

"Destiny's Child"

Waylon Jennings1967 
Del Reeves1967 
Johnny Darrell1968 
The Crickets1973 

"Even Cowgirls Get the Blues"

LaCosta1978 #79 country

"Gypsy Man"

Sonny Curtis1967 
Buddy Knox1968 #64 country
J. J. Cale1976 

"He Was on to Somethin' (So He Made You)"

Ricky Skaggs1990 #25 country

"I Fought the Law"

The Crickets1960 
The Bobby Fuller Four1964 #9 pop
Sonny Curtis1968 
Roy Orbison1972 
Sam Neely1975 #54 pop, #61 country
Hank Williams Jr.1978 #15 country
Rita Coolidge & Kristofferson1978 
The Clash1979 
The Dead Kennedys1987 
Bryan Adams1988 
The Stray Cats1989 
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band1992 #66 country
The Pogues1993 
Nanci Griffith1997 
The Ventures1998 

"I Like Your Music"

Anne Murray1972 
Johnny Rivers1974 
Sonny Curtis1981 

"I Wanna Go Bummin' Around"

Sonny Curtis1967 #50 country
Floyd Cramer1968 

"I'm No Stranger to the Rain"

(written with Ron Hellard)

Keith Whitley1989 #1 country
Joe Diffie1994 
Special Consensus2000 

"Love Is All Around"

TV theme of The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Sammy Davis Jr.1972 
Sonny Curtis1974 
Sonny Curtis (2nd version)1980 #29 country
Husker Du1985 

"More Than I Can Say"

(written with Jerry Allison)

The Crickets1960 
Bobby Vee1961 #61 pop
Leo Sayer1980 #1 adult contemporary, #2 pop
Sonny Curtis1981 
Sammy Kershaw1999 

"My Way of Life"

Sonny Curtis1966 #49 country
Jimmy Dean1967 
Del Reeves & Bobby Goldsboro1969 #28 country
Eddy Arnold1970 

"Now I've Got a Heart of Gold"

Sonny Curtis1986 #69 country

"Rock Around with Ollie Vee"

Buddy Holly1956 
Shakin' Stevens1994 
The Stray Cats2000 
Albert Lee2002 


Webb Pierce1957 #12 country

"The Cowboy Singer"

Sonny Curtis1979 #77 country

"The Real Buddy Holly Story"

Sonny Curtis1980 #38 country

"The Straight Life"

Sonny Curtis1968 #45 country
Glen Campbell1968 
Bobby Goldsboro1968 #6 adult contemporary, #36 pop, #37 country

"Walk Right Back"

The Everly Brothers1961 #7 pop
Bobby Vee & the Ventures1963 
Gary Lewis & the Playboys1965 
Sonny Curtis1968 
Chet Atkins1971 
Harry Nilsson1971 
Perry Como1973 
Andy Williams1973 
LaWanda Lindsey1977 #76 country
Anne Murray1978 #4 country, #15 adult contemporary
Nanci Griffith1998 

"Where Will the Words Come From"

Gary Lewis & the Playboys1967 #21 pop
Sonny Curtis1967 
Rosanne Cash1981 

Sonny Curtis

Induction Year: 1991