Jack Sonni Dead: Dire Straits Guitarist Who Played At Live Aid Was 68
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Jack Sonni Dead: Dire Straits Guitarist Who Played At Live Aid Was 68

Aug 21, 2023

Jack Sonni, an American guitarist who played on Dire Straits’ mammoth 1985 album Brothers in Arms and was onstage with the band at Live Aid that year, has died at 68. The group shared the news on social media but did not give any details.

Born John Sonni on December 9, 1954, in Indiana, PA, Sonni had been playing in the band Leisure Class in New York during the late 1970s when he met the Knopfler brothers, who’d had an international hit debut album and lead single with “Sultans of Swing.” He was asked to join the British group some years later, after Dave Knopfler had left, and playing guitar synthesizer on the track “The Man’s Too Strong” for Brothers in Arms, a worldwide smash that became one of the most popular albums of the ’80s.

Recorded all digitally as the CD era kicked in, the album’s nine tracks including the global behemoth “Money for Nothing.” In an unusual move, its compact disc and cassette releases featured longer version of several songs, but “The Man’s Too Strong” ran the same length on all formats. It was not among the album’s five singles.

Brothers in Arms is the eighth-best-selling album in UK history and has sold more than 9 million copies in the U.S. alone.

Known to many as the “other guitar player in Dire Straits,” Sonni played with the band during its two-song performance for the massive famine-relief concert Live Aid in July 1985, with Dire Straits slotting in between U2 and Queen at London’s Wembley Stadium. Some 72,000 fans packed the venue, and estimates for the global live TV audience range up to 1.9 billion in more than 150 countries.

Dire Straits famously split in the years after Brothers in Arms, with frontman Mark Knopfler going solo and focusing on soundtrack work. After the breakup, Sonni launched a career as a marketing executive and later joined Line 6, a producer of digital electronics for musicians. From 2001-06, he was VP Marketing Communications at Guitar Center.

In later years, he performed again with the Leisure Class and with Dire Straits Legacy, a group made up of former members of the Knopfler band.

A bio on Sonni’s website end with this quote: “And he is one who knows the supreme importance of hugging them while you can…because Tomorrow Never Knows.”

#JackSonni 🎸 Rest In Peace 🙏#DireStraits pic.twitter.com/W3vx65bY5h

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