Sonny West was born in 1937, just outside Shallowater. He spent his childhood moving with his farming family around the American West, returning to Levelland in 1956. After getting his first guitar at 14, he began playing gigs in and around Lubbock, often appearing on KDAV’s Sunday Party, where he met Buddy Holly. Sonny cut his first recording at Norman Petty’s studios that same year, a 45 single of “Rock-Ola Baby” b/w “Sweet Rockin’ Baby” (Nor-Va-Jak WA1956), which is considered by many to be among the finest two-sided rockabilly records ever released. He cut a demo track of his composition “All My Love,” which Petty passed along to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, who recorded it soon after under the title “Oh Boy!” In 1957, Sonny and fellow musician Bill Tilghman co-wrote “Rave On,” which Buddy Holly and The Crickets recorded the following year. An immediate hit, the song has become a classic rock-and-roll anthem, recorded by artists John Lennon, Ricky Nelson, John C. Fogerty, and Nanci Griffith. Although West stopped pursuing a music career in the 1960s, he continued writing songs and recording demos. Since moving to Abilene in 2000, Sonny has returned to music with a flourish, appearing at the Clovis Music Festival and the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, in addition to overseas bookings in the UK, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. He has also recorded and released several CDs during this period. Sonny West passed on September 8, 2022, at 85.
Sonny West was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in 2016