Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Phantom aka Sonny Craver Come Back To Me Karisma

The Phantom Come Back To Me Karisma
Yet another delve into the archives brings out this gem from The Phantom which was a pseudonym for Sonny Craver who I have featured on the blog before. The above 45 was supposed to have come out on Stanson under his own name but I have never seen a copy.

Sonny Craver is originally from Columbus, Ohio where he started singing at 17. He began his career with the Stomp Gordon Band and also played with the Earl Hood Orchestra, the Raleigh Randolph Band and with "Rahsaan" Roland Kirk in the Sonny Craver Five. Craver left Columbus in 1954 and joined the King Kolax Band in Chicago but travelled backwards and forwards over the years. Sonny later became one of the voices of the popular Mills Brothers style group called the Harmonaires. Sonny owned the club Regal and managed the Carolyn Club in Columbus in an area called "Bronzeville". He also founded the Stanson Recording Company at 517 East Long Street with Eddie Colston and Stan Freidberg.

After traveling for many years Sonny decided to settle in Chicago where Count Basie first heard him sing and later invited him to take the vocal spot once held by Joe Williams and O.C. Smith. While on tour with Basie, Craver decided to settle in New York where he studied at the Actors Workshop.

While at the Montery Jazz Festival, Craver decided to stay in California and has made it his home. After Craver relocated to California in the 1960’s, he reactivated the label, releasing sides by himself, Apple & Three Oranges, King Solomon, and Paul Humphrey among others.

Sonny's theatre and singing experiences are numerous. He has appeared in "Norman Is That You", "All God's Chillun", "Ransom", "The Tender Trap", "Guys & Dolls" and "Member of the Wedding" just to name a few. He sang in the movie "White Men Can't Jump with the Venice Beach Boys including Bill Henderson and Jon Hendricks singing acappella gospel during the film's opening credits. He has done numerous commercials including the McDonalds commercial where he makes love to a hamburger. Sonny has been a member of KSLG Playhouse Theatre Players for many years as a singer and actor. One of his most memorable roles was playing Louis Armstrong and Rochester with Chuck Niles as Jack Benny.

I know of these sides by Sonny:

Stanson 501 Baby I Can Change My Mind/ I'm Lost

Stanson 510 I Wanna Thank You/Oh Huh, Oh Yeah

Karisma Come Back To Me/Oh Huh, Oh Yeah

Musette 102 Sonny Craver I'm No Fool / Come Back

Teri-De 007 I Wanna Thank You/I'm No Fool

Dalya 1895 Outside Of Memphis/Still Waters

Celestial 253 Love Exchange/Who(Made You For Me?)

Celestial 253 12" Love Exchange/It Must Be Love as Sonny & Mel

I have heard a Christmas 45 by him on Stanson but I couldn't find the details in my archives!

He is still active and his most recent CD is "Please Send Me Someone To Love" is on Stanson with the Pat Longo Band. Pat and Sonny have been working festivals for more the 18 years, but this is their first recording together. This CD is said to be reminiscent of the early Bassie/Williams recordings. He has also recorded a live album for Stanson called "Live At the Bakery" issued on his Stanson imprint.

You can find more background information on his recordings here:

Musette label



  1. Sonny Craver was among my favorite entertainers and I considered him family. I met Sonny as a kid in the 60's in Chicago,Il at our uncles house. Both Sonny and I had the same Uncle, Orby Ware of 59th street and Normal avenue. Sonny was the best dressed and the most charismatic cousin on both sides of the family. Sonny was recording and working in LA back then. Many people do not know that Sonny not only recored music he did comedy as well, and was funny as hell. He recorded with veteran comedian Pigmeat Markham on Here Comes The Judge, Sonny was a natural. I miss those days of old and all the people who made most out of life. Here is to a true entertainer Sonny Craver.
    your friend and cuz, Stanley Smith.

  2. Anonymous11:56 PM

    when I hear songs like this ,it makes me wonder what the heck happened to soul music. This is a wonderful record ,great arrangement and lovely "real" vocal .Great post ,please put some more up of this artiste who was unknown to me until today.