Sonny Sanders

William Nelson "Sonny" Sanders (August 6, 1939 – October 12, 2016) was an American soul music singer, songwriter, arranger, and record producer.

Born in Chicago, Sanders made his first recording in 1955, on "Tears of Love" / "Roxanna" by Sax Kari and the Qualtones. He formed the Satintones in Detroit in 1957, with Robert Bateman, James Ellis and Sammy Mack. They became the first vocal group signed to Motown, and released their first record, "Going to the Hop" / "Motor City" in 1960. Sanders also worked as a backing singer at Motown, on such records as Marv Johnson's "You Got What It Takes" and Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)"; and as an arranger.

After the Satintones disbanded, Sanders left Motown in the early 1960s, but continued to work as an arranger on records including the Reflections "Just Like Romeo and Juliet". In 1965 he was recruited to work with record producer Carl Davis in Chicago, and arranged songs for Mary Wells, Edwin Starr's "Agent Double-O-Soul", and Jackie Wilson’s "Higher and Higher", and "I Get the Sweetest Feeling". Other artists with whom he worked, notably at Brunswick Records, included Gene Chandler, the Chi-Lites, and Tyrone Davis.

With Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites, he co-wrote Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl", the backing track of which later became "Soulful Strut" credited to Young-Holt Unlimited; and, with Wilson Pickett and former Satintones bandmate Robert Bateman, he co-wrote "If You Need Me", first recorded by Pickett and also a chart hit for Solomon Burke; it was later recorded by the Rolling Stones. Sanders also worked with Bateman's nephew, Jeffree (singer of the Steppers classic "Love's Gonna Last") on Jackie Wilson's "Beautiful Day" album. In the 1970s, he worked with Chubby and the Turnpikes, who later became Tavares; and the band Manchild, who included the musician Babyface. In 1998 Sanders and Carl Davis produced Eugene Record's last album, Let Him In. He also set up a gospel music publishing company, Joy Over One.

Sanders died in Detroit during the fall of 2016. He was 77.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 6, 1939 (Chicago), Died October 12, 2016

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1966 - 1970

Roles Represented in DAHR: arranger, leader

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 105 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 117708 7/21/1966 Love grows bitter Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 117709 7/20/1966 Sweet darling Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 117710 7/20/1966 Help yourself Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 117711 7/20/1966 If you need somebody Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 117993 10/10/1966 I don't want to lose you Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117994 10/10/1966 I can do better Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117995 10/10/1966 Those heartaches Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117996 10/10/1966 My heart is calling Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117997 10/10/1966 Just be sincere Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117998 10/10/1966 Who am I? Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 117999 10/10/1966 I've lost you Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 118000 10/10/1966 I've gotta talk to you Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 118001 10/10/1966 Only your love can save me Jackie Wilson arranger  
Decca 118279 11/25/1966 Wrapped, tied and tangled LaVern Baker arranger, leader  
Decca 118280 11/25/1966 Nothing like being in love LaVern Baker arranger, leader  
Decca 118453 1/10/1967 What now my love Gene Chandler arranger  
Decca 118454 1/10/1967 To choose Gene Chandler arranger  
Decca 118455 1/10/1967 The girl don't care Gene Chandler arranger  
Decca 118624 2/8/1967 Day dream-1 Louis Armstrong arranger  
Decca 118625 2/8/1967 Step down brother, next case Louis Armstrong arranger  
Decca 118626 2/8/1967 Louis' dream Louis Armstrong arranger  
Decca 118627 2/8/1967 Northern Boulevard blues Louis Armstrong arranger  
Decca 118745 3/16/1967 Come on over to my side Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 118746 3/16/1967 I can't wait (for your love) Billy Butler arranger  
Decca 119061 June 1967 [Unknown title(s)] Gene Chandler arranger  
(Results 1-25 of 105 records)


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Sanders, Sonny," accessed July 18, 2024,

Sanders, Sonny. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from

"Sanders, Sonny." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 18 July 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier


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