Sonny Charles

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Sonny Charles
Steve Miller and Sonny Charles.jpg
Charles (right) with Steve Miller at The Royal Albert Hall
Background information
Born (1940-09-04) 4 September 1940 (age 73)
Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States
Occupations Musician
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1960–present
Associated acts Checkmates, Ltd., Steve Miller Band

Sonny Charles (born Charles Hemphill, 4 September 1940)[1] is an American soul singer from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was the lead singer of Checkmates, Ltd. in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is his vocals that are heard out front on their 1969 Phil Spector-produced hit, "Black Pearl." Charles launched a solo career in the early 1970s, and after a brief reunion with the Checkmates, again from the 1980s. Thereafter, to the mid to late 1990's playing at casinos at Lake Tahoe and off the strip in Las Vegas he toured with another member of the Checkmates, Ltd., Marvin "Sweet Louie" Smith, under the Checkmates name.

Charles' 1982 album, The Sun Still Shines, recorded on Highrise Records, hit #136 on the Billboard album chart and #14 on the U.S. Black Albums chart[2] on the strength of the single "Put It in a Magazine". Written by Charles with producer Bobby Paris, the song went to #2 on the R&B Singles chart[3] and reached #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983.[1] The follow-up single, "Always on My Mind", peaked at #53,[3] but Charles quickly fell from view.

In 2008, Sonny Charles joined the Steve Miller Band and toured with them.[4]

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