If you have ever been to the Nashville Flea Market at any point in the past 30-years, you have likely met Sonny Helmer. He is a ball of fire at age 86. Sonny sells antique rotary dial phones at the market during the last weekend of each month.
Prior to restoring old phones, he was a musician. In fact, he sings at the market as you walk past his booth. If you tell him your name, he will sing a customized song on the spot using your name while playing his electronic keyboard.
Sonny told me this past Sunday that he was “Almost Famous,” which is also the title of his book.
Sonny spent 70 years in the music business and had played along with great names like Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong and others. He even played trombone with Al Hirt, led a band in the Jackie Gleason night club for five years and spent ten years leading the band at Disneyland in California and later Disney World in Florida.
If you see Sonny, thank him for his service to our country too. During the Korean War, he was a member of the 392nd Army Band.