Pop culture, the music community and the close-knit circle of garage-rock icons in the Midwest have all lost another brother, Jimy Sohns of the Shadows of Knight. He would have been 73 on Aug. 23.
Jimy was the lead singer of the Shadows of Knight, the band that made rock history in April of 1964 by releasing the Van Morrison tune “Gloria.” The Knights’ version became an anthem that is almost as popular today as it was almost 60 years ago when it was released.
I have been blessed to have worked with Jimy for all of the past 30 years. His personality was larger than life, with a presence as wild as his curly blond hair and psychedelic shirts. He was one of those guys who truly lived off the love of the fans. He never shied away from a microphone and loved the way his “G-L-O-R-I-A” made audiences jump to its feet and sing along.
I have had many, many personal moments with Jimy, especially over the past few years as we have been putting on the “Cornerstones of Rock” shows, consisting of the Buckinghams, the Ides of March, the New Colony Six, the Cryan’ Shames and Jimy representing the Shadows of Knight.
Because he was solo versus the other acts being either fully or partially the original bands, he had this special focus on him as he swung his microphone stand around, inciting the crowd to sing along, and “spell” (GLORIA) along.
As so many tributes are being posted on social media, there are countless folks posting their photos with Jimy. That speaks volumes to his loving and giving personality. He made every fan, high school newspaper reporter and Miller Lite-laden rock aficionado on a bar stool feel as important to him as a writer from Rolling Stone magazine would be.
Yes, Jimy Sohns lived the “rock star” lifestyle. Not in the way you would associate the way Mick Jaggar or Steven Tyler would live. It was more of a “neighborhood guy” who made it big, and stayed grounded and appreciative.
Of course, we will miss him. But not as much in the way we miss the other “Jimi.” It is much more personal than that. He was more of a brother to most than a rock star, even brotherly to those he would just meet on the street.
The dictionary defines “GLORIA” as Latin for “Immortal fame, honor and praise.” Jimy Sohns’ presence will be immortal and forever present as his infectious smile lives on in our rock ‘n’ roll hearts.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of the Onesti Entertainment Corp. and the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.