JS at Legend Club Milan Sept 2019
|Birth name||John Thomas Sonni|
|Also known as||Jack|
|Born||December 9, 1954|
Indiana, Pennsylvania, United States
|Occupation(s)||Musician, marketing communications|
|Instruments||Electric guitar, vocals|
|Associated acts||Dire Straits|
Jack Sonni (born December 9, 1954 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, United States) is a writer, musician and former marketing executive best known as "the other guitarist" in Dire Straits during the band's Brothers in Arms era.
Early life and education
Drawn to music at an early age, Sonni first learned piano, then trumpet, switching to guitar at 14. His love of the instrument led him to leave the University of Connecticut where he was studying literature to attend the Hartford Conservatory of Music.
After graduating, Jack was introduced to New York session guitarist Elliott Randall (famous for his solo on the hit "Reelin' In the Years") by keyboardist Michael Holmes, a graduate of Eastman & bandmate of Tony Levin & Steve Gadd. Randall became a mentor & teacher and convinced Sonni to move to NYC and begin his career. Jack lived in NYC from 1976 thru 1985 initially trying to break into session work but began focusing on his own band. In the late 1970s, Sonni's band The Leisure Class had become a Monday night fixture at Kenny's Castaways on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, the place for up and coming acts.
In the fall of 1977, Jack went to work at Alex Music on 48th Street in Manhattan. In 1978 he started working at the newly opened Rudy's Music Stop, owned by luthier Rudy Pensa, where he met members of Dire Straits, first David and then Mark Knopfler.
He visited the Knopflers in London, and after David (and then Hal Lindes) left the band, Sonni was asked to join the band for the 1984 recording sessions for Brothers in Arms and the subsequent tour. Jack accepted, and played guitar synthesizer on "The Man's Too Strong."
After his collaboration with Dire Straits, Sonni contributed to other musicians' works but ended his professional musical career when his twin daughters, Caitlin & Nadine, were born in 1988. He began a second career as a marketing executive, first at Seymour Duncan, then Rivera Guitar Amplifiers followed by several years as director of marketing communications at Line 6, a manufacturer of digital technology products for musicians. He was instrumental in the development and launch of POD - which he named and gave the product its legendary shape. In 2001 he moved on to become vice president of marketing communication for Guitar Center, primarily overseeing the company's advertising, promotions and public relations, a position he left in 2006.
In the summer of 2006, Sonni left Guitar Center to return to a creative life pursuing his first love, writing literature. He moved to San Jose del Cabo in 2007, spending his mornings surfing and afternoons writing. After nine months in Baja, he moved to northern California, living in Healdsburg, CA until January 2012 when he relocated to Brooklyn for a short time.
Sonni was writer-in-residence and House Manager at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha's Vineyard until its closing in 2017. Residing in Ventura, CA, he spends his time now traveling and writing, having recently completed his first novel and currently seeking agent representation. He has also returned to playing music on a regular basis with his band, The Leisure Class, focusing on, according to Sonni in a recent interview, "having fun playing the music I love with good friends who happen to be great musicians." In collaboration with long-time friend, Keith Nelson, guitarist/producer/songwriter, best known for leading the band, Buck Cherry, the pair have been co-writing and recording songs for an upcoming EP release.
He appears regularly with other former members of Dire Straits in the DSL, Dire Straits Legacy project.
One of his twin daughters, Nadine, died October 11, 2018 who left her son, Merrick. His daughter, Caiti has two sons, Silas & Hendrix.
- Brothers in Arms (1985)
- Money for Nothing (compilation) (1988)
- Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits (compilation) (1998)
- The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations (compilation) (2005)
- Flanagan, Bill (1985) Musician. Available from: Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, an inside look at the outside man Archived 2008-05-27 at the Wayback Machine
- Guitar Center Appoints J. Sonni Vice President of Marketing Communications