February 11, 2018

John William Payne -- better known as "Sunshine Sonny" Payne -- the longtime host of King Biscuit Time, the award-winning radio show that influenced generations of blues musicians and fans, died Saturday in Helena-West Helena. He was 92.

"Sonny was one of the most professional and warm people I have ever met in my life," said Thomas Jacques, assistant director of the Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, where Payne's studio was relocated to in the early '90s. "He could be highly opinionated and stubborn, but he was one of a kind and beloved."

Payne had been off the air since Dec. 27 when he fell at his home. Substitute hosts, including Jacques, filled in for him.

"In the back of our minds, we knew he was 92 years old, but we were hoping this would be one of those times when he would be back behind the mic again," said Katie Harrington, KFFA 1360 station manager. "It's a real loss for us."

Born Nov. 29, 1925, in Helena to Gladys Swope Payne and William G. Payne, he became infatuated wi...

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