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Country Music Singer Songwriter Sonny Lemaire|Sonny Lemaire Exile
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Country Music Singer Songwriter Sonny Lemaire

Country Music Singer Songwriter Sonny Lemaire

Sonny_Lamaire-ProfileSonny Lemaire

Date & Place of birth:  September 16 – Ft. Lee, VA
Instrument: Bass & vocals
Primary influences- Musical:     Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beach Boys, Motown, Otis Redding & everything from Stax, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald,  Bachrach-David, Brill Bldg. writers.. Buck, Owens, Merle Haggard, Cash, Waylon & Hank Sr.
Primary influences- Personal:   Mom, Aunts & Uncles, Jack Bowyer (Mgr. 1st band)
What life has taught me: God sure has a wicked sense of humor. I’m a musician who has two daughters.
Although most of the band is from Kentucky, I was raised in Jeffersonville, IN, but I got to Kentucky as quick as I could, y’all!! Like every other musician I was attracted to music at an early age, playing gigs starting at 17. Also like most others the flame drawing this moth in the mid-60’s was not only the radio but TV as well. But unlike many others I had a clear vision of the unique role I wanted to play. When I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I saw my future. I could never be Elvis but I could be Paul.
I joined Exile in November 1977. Prior to that I had been traveling & touring since late ’73, in a four-piece band. We came off the road in June of ’77, to enroll my 6 year-old daughter in 1st grade and I rejoined an old friend in playing at “The Terrace Room,” J.P. would sit in with our three-piece rock outfit, which is how we met.
Marlon and I had worked together at “The Terrace Room” from ’71-’73 but he had been with Exile since ’75 when he called and asked me to join. I actually thought he was going to ask to come back to “The Terrace Room” because Exile was not doing well having had several unsuccessful single releases. When he asked if I’d like to join Exile, I was stunned. The problem was I couldn’t afford to do it for the offered $75 a week so I told them, regretfully, that I would have to pass. Then Mike Chapman agreed to offset the $75 with an additional $75 each week out of his pocket. So for $150 a week, I joined Exile. Still couldn’t make ends meet but I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity.
To supplement our income Steve Goetzman & I went to work with a local landscaping company. As “Kiss You All Over” was beginning to get airplay, someone on the work crew would always have a radio playing. So there we were, up to our elbows in mud planting trees & shrubs hearing our song on the radio. Not quite the way I always imagined it would be but we never said a word about being in the band.
The rock years, 1977-82, were a very mixed bag. We had a huge hit record; we got to tour the US & Europe opening up for big-time rock acts. We got to work with producer, Mike Chapman, who was brilliant. Very early on he listened to my songs. None were very good but he listened with great care giving me suggestions where each could be improved. I’ve never forgotten his example & try to do the same with young writers I encounter. L.A. was a shock to my system. I loved the place, had many a good time and met some wonderful people but the industry egos, preening and posing were just too much.
I’ll never forget when Jim Morey flew to Lexington to discuss the future of the band after being dropped from Warner-Curb, L.A. To my amazement & consternation, he suggested we switch from being a rock act to a country act. I personally thought he had lost his mind. But after listening to why he thought it could be done, it began to make more sense. We dug in hard to make it work. You know the story from there about the country success.
One of the funniest Exile stories is known as the Opry “train wreck”. It happened on our 1st & only appearance, 1984, during the heyday of the band. The “Opry is a two-show-in-one-night deal. With a smooth first show under out belt, we adjourned to our dressing room to bask in the glory from label & agency well-wishers. There we decided to change the order of the songs for the 2nd show but no one realized Steve was not in the dressing room when the change was made. After a glowing introduction by Jim Ed Brown, Steve counted off and launched into “Woke Up In Love” while the rest of us started playing “I Don’t Want To Be A Memory.” The ensuing cacophony, which lasted about 20 seconds, felt like the longest 3 1/2 minutes of our lives. At some point in the disaster, Steve switched to “Memory,” & the rest of us switched to “Woke.” FINALLY, JP yelled out, “Woke,” and we all got on the same page. Initially our dressing room was filled with insults & recriminations. Soon we calmed down, realized we had survived a crucible that happens in live performance. “What doesn’t kill ya, makes you stronger.”
The band’s success laid the foundation for what I did after we laid it all down in 1994 in terms of being a part of the Nashville songwriting community. I have been in two bands since (Burning Daylight) and a songwriting trio I’m still a part of with my friends and co0-writers, Mark Selby and Clay Mills. I am proud to say have a great group of some of the best writers I Nashville I frequently write with that includes Shane Minor, Rory Bourke, Charlie Black, Don Pfrimmer, Marc Beeson, Nicky Chinn, Tommy Lee James, Terry McBride, Sharon Vaughn & Tim Ryan. Songwriting is my lifeline and something I will do the rest of my life.
Now that we have reunited as the Exile we knew and loved I can say it’s different this time around. I’m so much more appreciative of all our success & loving the feeling of being back with my brothers. We share a bond that hasn’t & cannot be broken. “We band of brothers, we lucky few,” are all for one & one for all.
As long as we’re breathin’, we’re pickin.’


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