Since Sonny Sharrock died a full decade before the dawn of the YouTube/smartphone era, there isn’t a wealth of visual records of his performances. But these three clips sample his creative arc.
Here, Sharrock plays an Italian TV appearance with one of Herbie Mann’s Memphis Underground-era groups. Sharrock is playing a Yamaha hollowbody guitar through a silverface Twin Reverb, and cuts loose at 1:45 with flurries, slurs, and trills.
Linda and Sonny Sharrock led their own band for this performance of “Peanut” from Black Woman on the French TV show Jazz Session. Sonny’s dynamics, note choices, and chordal outbursts are totally unpredictable, and yet, his and Linda’s interplay display their then-shared vision at work.
And here’s Sharrock on stage at the original Knitting Factory in 1988 with his double-drums Seize the Rainbow band. He comes out of the gate ripping, alternating between flurries of notes and warm melodies. At four minutes, bassist Melvin Gibbs steers the tune into funk. And when Sharrock breaks out his slide after six minutes, all hell breaks loose!