Sonny is a Texas-based tunesmith with a knack for love songs-of the romantic and cheating persuasions-Throckmorton was one of the most highly regarded songwriters of the late 1970s and ’80s. Moe Bandy, John Conlee, Dave & Sugar, Merle Haggard, the Judds, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Rich, T.G. Sheppard and George Strait are among the artists who recorded Throckmorton-penned hits.
James Fron “Sonny” Throckmorton was born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, on April 2, 1941. The son of a Pentecostal preacher, he grew up in Texas. As a child, Throckmorton began making up songs when his attention drifted from his father’s sermons. In high school, he formed a rockabilly band with his friends.
After college, Throckmorton played the rock ‘n’ roll club circuit in San Francisco. He moved to Nashville in 1964 and switched his focus to country music. His first cut came in 1966 with Bobby Lewis’ Top Ten hit “How Long Has It Been.” Throckmorton signed with Tree Publishing but was fired when none of his songs became hits. He cut his losses and moved back to Texas.
While he was away, Don Gant and Curly Putman continued to pitch Throckmorton’s songs. Within a year, his career was revived; he returned to Nashville and signed a second deal with Tree. Over the next five years, he enjoyed a continual stream of chart hits.
Between 1976 and 1980, Throckmorton wrote hits for some of country music’s biggest stars. Among them are “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” (Johnny Duncan); “If We’re Not Back in Love by Monday” and “The Way I Am” (Merle Haggard); “Trying to Love Two Women” and “I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (and Left My Heart Alone)” (Oak Ridge Boys). Jerry Lee Lewis recorded “Middle Age Crazy” (a Top Five hit) and “I Wish I Was Eighteen Again.” Both songs were eventually made into movies.
While his writing career was white-hot, Throckmorton signed several recording contracts, including one with Mercury. His double-sided single of “Smooth Sailin'” and “Last Cheater’s Waltz” charted in 1979. Both songs proved to be major hits for T.G. Sheppard, with the latter song reaching #1.
Throckmorton continued to have hits into the 1980s. The Judds topped the charts with “Why Not Me” in 1984. George Strait and Mel McDaniel had Top Five hits, in 1985, with “The Cowboy Rides Away” and “Stand Up,” respectively.
Throckmorton was named Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Songwriter of the Year in 1978 and ’79 and BMI Songwriter of the Year in 1980. He joined the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. More than 1,000 of his songs have been recorded.
Throckmorton lives in Austin, Texas. He continues to write songs and perform occasionally.