Sharrock, Sonny (Warren Harding)

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Sharrock, Sonny (Warren Harding)

Sharrock, Sonny (Warren Harding) , avantgarde guitarist; b. Ossining, N.Y., Aug. 27, 1940; d. there, May 26, 1994. He was self-taught on guitar. He studied at Berklee when he was 21, took four months of composition, then left in 1962. He played bebop in Calif., then moved to N.Y. in 1965. He studied with Sun Ra and began playing with Olatunji, after being invited by Pat Patrick and other Sun Ra members who were in the group. Sharrock worked with Byard Lancaster, a Berklee classmate, who came to N.Y. at about the same time. In 1966 Sharrock also worked with Dave Burrell, Frank Wright, and Sunny Murray. Late in the year, he played a Sunday afternoon concert with Lancaster in Philadelphia. Pharoah Sanders sat in, then asked him to join his band the next night in N.Y. and to record with him later that week. Sharrock achieved his greatest notoriety as a member of various groups led by Herbie Mann from 1967–73. With Mann, he cut a striking figure, wearing a long robe and waving his arms flamboyantly while he soloed. He formed his own group in 1973, and did some tours and recording with his wife Lynda. He joined the group Last Exit in 1985, with whom he toured extensively (including Europe), and then made both avant-garde and rock/R&B releases as a leader. He died of a heart attack while exercising.

Sharrock was extremely influential in jazz/rock circles where he is best known for his work with Sanders and for his remarkable solo albums. It is said that he made the remark that when playing in concert he wanted “the first three rows to bleed from the ears.” He also did music for Space Ghost Coast to Coast on the Cartoon Network.

His wife Lynda (Linda Chambers) (b. Philadelphia, Pa., April 3, 1947) sang with him in his 1960s-era groups and when he was a member of Herbie Mann’s group.


Black Woman (1969); Paradise (1975); Last Exit (1986); Guitar (1986); Seize the Rainbow (1987); Faith Moves (1989); Live in N.Y. (1989); Highlife (1990); Ask the Ages (1991). p. sanders : Tauhid (1966).

—Lewis Porter