born on 4/5/1926 in New York City, NY, United States
died on 29/1/1979 in Los Angeles, CA, United States
His father was Wild Bill Davis's drummer Chris Columbus. After early study with Vic Berton, in 1944 Payne started playing professionally around New York with the Dud and Paul Bascomb band, Hot Lips Page, Earl Bostic (1945–1947), Tiny Grimes (between 1947 and 1950), and Lucille Dixon (1948).
From 1950 to 1953, Payne played with Erskine Hawkins' big band, and led his own band for two years, but in late 1954 he made his most significant move, joining Basie's band for ten years of constant touring and recording.
He left Basie in 1965, leading his own trio, touring with Illinois Jacquet in 1976, and rejoining Basie twice (1965–1966, and 1973–1974). Most of the rest of his career, however, was spent in the Harry James band, which he joined in 1966, and with which he was working at the time of his death.
- Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, & Brian Priestley. Jazz: The Rough Guide. ISBN 1-85828-528-3
- [Sonny Payne at All Music Guide Sonny Payne] — brief biography by Scott Yanow, for AllMusic.
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