One of few guitarists in the first wave of free jazz in the 1960s, Sharrock was known for his incisive, heavily chorded attack, his bursts of wild feedback, and for his use of saxophone-like lines played loudly on guitar.
Sharrock began his musical career singing doo wop in his teen years. He collaborated with Pharoah Sanders and Alexander Solla in the late 1960s, appearing first on Sanders's 1966 effort, Tauhid. He made several appearances with flautist Herbie Mann and also made an uncredited guest appearance on Miles Davis's A Tribute to Jack Johnson, perhaps his most famous cameo.
He had in fact wanted to play tenor saxophone from his youth after hearing John Coltrane play on Davis's album Kind of Blue on the radio at age 19, but his asthma prevented this from happening. Sharrock said repeatedly, however, that he still considered himself "a horn player with a really fucked up axe."
Three albums under Sharrock's name were released in the late '60s through the mid-'70s: Black Woman (which has been described by one reviewer as bringing out the beauty in emotions rather than technical prowess), Monkey-Pockie-Boo, and an album co-credited to both Sonny and his wife, Paradise (an album by which Sharrock was embarrassed and stated several times that it was not good and should not be reissued.
After the release of Paradise, Sharrock was semi-retired for much of the 1970s, undergoing a divorce from wife/occasional collaborator Linda in 1978. In the intermittent years until producer/bassist Bill Laswell coaxed him out of retirement, he worked as both a chauffeur and a caretaker for mentally challenged children. At Laswell's urging, Sharrock appeared on Material's (one of Laswell's many projects) 1981 effort, Memory Serves. In addition, Sharrock was a member of the punk/jazz band Last Exit, together with Peter Brötzmann, Laswell and Ronald Shannon Jackson. During the late 1980s, he recorded and performed extensively with the New York-based improvising band Machine Gun, as well as leading his own bands. Sharrock flourished with Laswell's help, noting in a 1991 interview that "the last five years have been pretty strange for me, because I went twelve years without making a record at all, and then in the last five years, I've made seven records under my own name. That's pretty strange."
Laswell would often perform with the guitarist on his albums, and produced many of Sharrock's recordings, including the entirely solo Guitar, the metal-influenced Seize the Rainbow, and the well-received Ask the Ages, which featured John Coltrane's bandmates Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones. "Who Does She Want To Be" is very lyrical piece harking back to the Coltrane/Davis Kind Of Blue sessions that had inspired him to play. One writer described Ask the Ages as "hands down, Sharrock's finest hour, and the ideal album to play for those who claim to hate jazz guitar." Sharrock is perhaps best known for the soundtrack to the Cartoon Network program Space Ghost Coast to Coast with his drummer Lance Carter, one of the last projects he completed in the studio before his death.
In 1994, Sharrock died unexpectedly of a heart attack in his hometown of Ossining, New York, just as he was on the verge of signing the first major label deal in his entire career. He was 53. He left behind his wife of 11 years, Nettie and his daughter, Jasmyn. He is interred at the Dale Cemetery in Ossining, NY.
Warren Harding Sharrock, más conocido como Sonny Sharrock (Ossining, New York-EEUU, 27 de agosto de 1940 - 26 de mayo de 1994), fue un guitarrista de jazz.
A los 19 años, comenzó a estudiar guitarra y composición en el Berklee School of Music y, más tarde, en California. Descubrió muy pronto la música de ornette Coleman, lo que le llevó a New York, donde conoció a Sun Ra y comenzó a tocar con el percusionista Olatunji (1965). a partir de 1966, ya totalmente integrado en la corriente del free jazz, tocó con Pharoah Sanders y Byard Lancaster, además de con Sunny Murray y Herbie Mann, con quien se enroló en 1967. Grabó discos con Miles Davis y Don Cherry.
Su esposa, Linda Sharrock, participó con él en todas las experiencias musicales, hasta su separación, en los años 70. A finales de esta década, formó el Power Trio, con Bill Laswell (contrabajo) y Stu Martin (batería y, a través del propio Laswell, entró a formar parte del colectivo Material (Henry Threadgill, John Zorn, Derek Bailey...).
Como instrumentista, no ha brillado por su finura y sofisticación, sino más bien por su expresividad, fulgor y poderío de trazos. Fue el primer guitarrista free en Norteamérica.
El 26 de mayo de 1994, Sonny Sharrock muere inesperadamente de un ataque al corazón en su pueblo natal de Ossining, en Nueva York, justo cuando estaba a punto de firmar su primer contrato discográfico con uno de los grandes sellos (majors).