Legend Member
Richard Sunny Allbright
March 30, 1922 - August 29, 2010
 

 

   
       

 

          Born in Ft. Payne, Alabama March 30, 1922, and raised in Buford, Georgia, Rick “Sunny” Allbright has seen just about all a musician’s life has to offer. He knows the good times and giddy heights of success from his early years playing rhythm and steel guitar, backing up some of the greats of country music.

         That was in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Just out of the armed services, he was working with Paul Howard and his Arkansas Cotton Pickers on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

         It was a heady time for a boy from Sugar Hill, and when Allbright reels off a list of other musicians he served as a sideman, it’s like listening to a litany of country stars of the period – Patsy Cline, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Little Jimmy Dickens and Jim and Jesse.

        His interest started early when he learned to play rhythm guitar during weekend jam sessions at the family farm near Sugar Hill.

        In 1935, he discovered the steel guitar at a concert performance by Hank Penney’s Rodeo Cowboys in the old auditorium at Sugar Hill Elementary School. Later, Pop Bello’s Royal Hawaiian Follies performed at Buford’s old Allen Theater and Allbright was hooked. That lead to three and a half years of lessons with Hall County musician, Howard Thomas. Allbright said he hitchhiked into Gainesville each week, and then hiked another two miles to the Thomas farm for the lesson.

       His mother bought him his first steel guitar for $125, and then another $100 for an amplifier, which he says took him three years to pay back.

       By now, Allbright already knew he wanted to be a musician, but WWII disrupted his plans. Allbright joined the Army and served under General George Patton. After his discharge from the service, Allbright played with “June Bug” Thomas, the son of his musical mentor, and eventually with George “Sleepy” Head and the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys – a job he recalls paid $25. That lead to his stint with the Cotton Pickers and Nashville.

       His reputation growing each year as his talent matured, Allbright was preparing to step out of the shadow of the stars into the spotlight on his own. But, due to family reasons, Allbright would put his music career on hold for two decades.

       In his years out of the music business, Allbright worked as a carpenter. In 1969, he fell while on a job north of Atlanta and was unable to work. His sons pitched in and bought him his first steel guitar since 1954. “It was a wonderful feeling,” he said of the gift!

       Allbright worked his way back into the music business and stayed busy playing with a variety of lounge bands and regional groups.
                                                                                                                        
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