Francis Kaye pays tribute to the showband star and legendary performer that was the late Sonny Knowles
During the 1960s, the late Sonny Knowles was a showband star, travelling around the country four or five nights a week as a member of the Pacific Showband.
He had a number of hit singles including a great version of the Eddie Arnold classic, ‘No One Will Ever Know’ and the follow-up, ‘We Could’. With Seán Fagan, who was the band’s lead singer, he made the charts again with a ballad, ‘I Only Came To Dance With You’, arranged in the style of the Everly Brothers.
In 1968, when the band was revamped, prior to its heading for Canada as Dublin Corporation, Sonny joined Dermot O’Brien’s Clubmen and continued on the showband scene for a few more years before leaving and concentrating on cabaret where he was an immediate success, becoming known as The Window Cleaner because of his habit of making circles with one hand as he held the microphone with the other.
Sonny, who passed away recently at the age of 86, didn’t start out as a singer, in fact he was a classically-trained musician.
Born in The Liberties area of Dublin in 1932, he was christened Thomas after his father but became known to all as Sonny as he was the ‘baby’. His parents died while he was a child and he was raised by his elder brother Harry, who for many years was a trombone player in the RTE Concert Orchestra.