Hawaiian Music Collection - Chillingsworth, Sonny: Performer Biography

Sonny Chillingsworth is considered one of the most influential slack key guitarists in history. Born July 14, 1932 on Oahu, but raised on Moloka'i, Sonny first took up guitar at age twelve, when he was living with his grandfather. He went back to Honolulu at the age of seventeen where he met his mentor, Gabby Pahinui. In 1954 he made his first record, Make'e 'Ailana. For the next forty years he stayed at the forefront of the local music scene. Sonny's repertoire was always diverse. As his many recordings suggest, he was strongly committed to Hawaiian music but enjoyed playing other styles as well. In 1964, Sonny released his first album, Waimea Cowboy, which earned a gold record and gave him the nick name "The Waimea Cowboy". For the next decade, he continued to record with his own band, as slack key guitarist for a number of singers and as a member of Gabby's popular Gabby Band. At times he also lent his talents to The Sons of Hawai'i. His influence and talent grew until he eventually became one of slack key's most respected elder statesmen traveling, teaching and recording until an early death in 1994 from cancer.

Honolulu Advertiser 8/26/94
http://www.dancingcat.com/artists/Sonny_Chillingworth.php (accessed 5/2010)