Funeral arrangements set for rocker and Newport native Sonny Burgess

(KAIT) - Funeral arrangements have been made for legendary musician and Region 8 native Sonny Burgess, who passed away Friday at the age of 88.

According to Dillinger Funeral Home in Newport, a visitation has been set for Thursday at Silver Moon from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Burgess died Friday night at a Little Rock hospital. Band mate Bobby Crafford said Burgess had been in the hospital since July.

Born on May 28, 1929, Burgess was part of the rock & roll band Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers and was a Newport native.

The musician began the band in the early 1950s and was opening for big acts like Elvis Presley within a few years.

According to a post announcing a 2014 concert at A-State, Burgess is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Europe, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in the United States, the Newport High School Alumni Hall of Fame and he holds an honorary doctorate degree from Arkansas State.

He also hosted a weekly radio program on KASU featuring a mixture of classic rock and roll, rhythm and blues, rockabilly music.

Mike Doyle, KASU station manager, and June Taylor, KASU production specialist, are in shock to hear of Burgess' passing.

"I always knew we would have to deal with it but we didn't want to, but now we will and that day is here," Doyle said. "Sonny, he really thought of people and he maintained his relationships. If he can hear this, thank you. Thank you for what you did for music and Arkansas."

Taylor produced the show with Burgess for many years.

" I have just fond memories," she said. "I mean Sonny would always make you laugh. It's kind of funny because I'm doing production for the show, even though I was there recording the show, I'm laughing at what's going on in conversation. We had some fond memories."

The band performed in May 2017 to KASU's 60th year of operation.

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