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Albert ‘Sonny’ Burgess dies; rockabilly pioneer was 88

Rockabilly musician Albert "Sonny" Burgess, above right, jams

Rockabilly musician Albert "Sonny" Burgess, above right, jams with then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe before a bill-signing at the Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., in March 2009. Credit: AP / Mike Wintroath

NEWPORT, Ark. — Albert “Sonny” Burgess, who was an early pioneer of what became known as rockabilly music, has died in his native Arkansas.

The Dillinger Funeral Home in Newport says Burgess died Friday in Little Rock. He was 88.

Burgess was among a group of singers in the mid-1950s who mixed rhythm and blues with country and western music. The sound became known as rockabilly and included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Burgess eventually signed with Sun Records in Memphis, where Presley, Cash and Lewis were among the artists under contract.

Burgess also is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Funeral arrangements are pending. His cause of death was not released.

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