The musician had been coping with secret “health problems,” according to the Dire Straits Legacy band with whom he was travelling. Musician Jack Sonni, widely known for his time as Dire Straits’ guitarist, has died. He was 68. Sonni’s death was confirmed by the band Dire Straits Legacy, which is made up of musicians who had recorded and played with Dire Straits and with whom Sonni was currently on tour. “Our darling Jack has left a gaping hole in our hearts and souls… “We will miss you so much, but you will always be with us,” the group posted on Facebook, including a broken heart emoji. Other members offered their respects as well, including keyboardist Alan Clark, who said, “It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say my friend and Dire Straits’ colleague has left us.” “Rest in peace, my friend.” The news was also relayed by Dire Straits’ official X (previously known as Twitter) account, which posted a black-and-white photo of Sonni with the caption “Rest in Peace.”
Though the cause of death is unknown, Dire Straits Legacy announced on Facebook Monday that Sonni would be unable to perform at a number of forthcoming shows due to unspecified “health problems.” Sonni joined Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits for the band’s 1985 No. 1 album Brothers in Arms, which included singles like “Money for Nothing” and “Walk of Life.” He also toured with the band and performed at Live Aid, and he became noted for donning a trademark red costume during concerts. “Jack performs with enthusiasm and a spontaneity that is a joy to behold, and has played with countless top musicians in every corner of the United States, and always with passion and a rock attitude par excellence,” according to his biography on Dire Straits Legacy. According to The Press Democrat, Sonni relocated to New York City in 1976 and founded a band named The Leisure Class. Despite his hopes of becoming a rock star, he accepted a day job at a local music store and soon befriended frequent customers Mark and David Knopfler, according to a 1985 article in Musician magazine. Mark asked Sonni to join the Brothers in Arms record when guitarist Hal Lindes left. “Jack was in a really bad way for a long time,” Mark told Musician. “Frustration, just practicing his guitar.” ‘Just one condition,’ I told him. Whatever I do, try your damnedest, dude, not to let it impact our friendship.”
“He was destined for it. “Born to boogie, born to rock; choose your cliché, they all apply to Sonni,” Mark added. Despite the fact that the band disbanded only 18 months later, Sonni, who had twin girls born in 1988, was content with his time as a rock star. He is said to have gone on to work in marketing. “I’m going to do what I set out to do… play with all of my guitar heroes: Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, and Keith Richards,” he told The Press Democrat in 2013.