Sonny Landreth

Clide Vernon "Sonny" Landreth is a slide guitarist and American blues artist from southwest Louisiana. He was born in the Mississippi town of Canton and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. He resides in the Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge.

Landreth is well renowned for his slide playing while being an excellent guitarist in the traditional sense. While playing, Landreth has devised a technique in which he frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide. Landreth uses his little finger to play the slide, giving his other fingers a more significant opportunity to fret behind the slide. He's also noted for his one-of-a-kind right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings with all of his right hand's fingers.

Background and Early Life

Landreth was born in Canton, Mississippi, on February 1, 1951, and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi, for a few years before settling in Lafayette, Louisiana. After a long career as a trumpet player, Landreth switched to guitar. He currently lives in southwest Louisiana. Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's guitarist, was his first source of inspiration, but he also learnt through records by performers and groups such as Chet Atkins and the Ventures. Landreth began hanging out with his buddies in their parents' residences when he was a teenager.

"They would ping-pong us from one house to the next, and while we were all terrible at first, we eventually improved. It's an iterative process, similar to songwriting. "In a 1995 interview on his 44th birthday, Landreth stated. Landreth struck out on his own after his first professional gig with accordionist Clifton Chenier in the 1970s (where he was the only White guy in the Red Beans and Rice Revue for a while), but not before recording two albums for the Crowley, LA-based Blues Unlimited label, Blues Attack in 1981 and Way Down in Louisiana in 1985. Landreth is live proof of the necessity to persevere in the face of adversity.


Landreth began his career as the only white member of Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band. His first album, Blues Attack, was released in 1981, and it included C.J. Chenier on saxophone and Mel Melton on harmonica. Landreth and Melton created Bayou Rhythm in 1982 and later added C.J. Chenier to the group. Way Down was recorded in Louisiana in 1985. Landreth also performed with John Hiatt's band and John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers regularly.

"Tell Me Lover," according to Vince Gill, was inspired in part by Landreth's song "Congo Square."

Landreth was a part of Germany's Rock-Superstar Peter Maffay's multi-artist project "Begegnungen (Encounters)" in 1998. They collaborated on a new version of Landreth's "C'est Chaud" for the album and a few more songs during the 30 arena shows later that year, which were chronicled on the live album Begegnungen Live, released in early 1999. Keb' Mo' was another Maffay guest on the Begegnungen album and tour.

Landreth has recorded with Jimmy Buffett and toured with him in 2006, 2007, and 2010. In 2011, Landreth performed on the main stage at MerleFest. Landreth made an appearance in Season 3, Episode 8 of HBO's Treme. In 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2019, Landreth performed at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. Landreth appeared as a guest performer on Eli Cook's album Primitive Son in 2014.

Last Modified: Oct 12, 2021

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