Country music singer Sonny James dies at 87

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"Young Love" Singer, Sonny James Dies at 87

Sonny James, who notched 16 consecutive No. 1 singles, ruling the country music charts for almost 20 years, died from natural causes Monday night in Nashville. He was 87.

James, who was recently hospitalized, was surrounded by family and friends at Alive Hospice at the time of his death, according to a statement on his official website.

His biggest hit, "Young Love," topped the country charts in 1957. During the 1960s and 1970s, James, who was nicknamed the Southern Gentleman, scored 26 No. 1 hits, including 16 consecutive chart toppers. He spent 57 weeks at the top of the charts between 1960 and 1979. "Need You," "Here Comes Honey Again," "It's Just a Matter of Time," "Empty Arms" and "Since I Met You Baby" were among his most memorable songs.

James through the years:

Sonny James, country music legend
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Country music singer Sonny James dies at 87
THE BOB HOPE CHEVY SHOW -- Pictured: Musician Sonny James -- (Photo by: Gerald Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Sonny James (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Sonny JAMES; Portrait (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1962: Sonny James and Mac Wiseman tuning their guitars near the stage at a Jimmie Rodgers Memorial festival, concert. L-R: James, Wiseman. Meridian, Mississippi, mid- to late 1950s or early 1960s. (Photo by Elmer Williams/Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Sonny James Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Sonny James Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - circa 1970: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of American country music singer Sonny James and The Southern Gentlemen posed circa 1970. (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Country Hall Of Fame Inductee Sonny James speaks onstage at the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center November 6, 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)
Sonny James and his wife Doris during The 40th Annual CMA Awards - Arrivals at Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/WireImage)
Sonny James accepts his medallion during the 2007 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony. (Photo by Ed Rode/WireImage)
Doris and Sonny James during the 2007 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony. (Photo by Ed Rode/WireImage)

James joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, the year he scored his second No. 1 single, "You're the Only World I Know," and hosted the first-ever CMA Awards two years later. James was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He was the first country artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Born James Hugh Loden in Hackleberg, Ala., the country crooner started playing music from a young age, performing music with his parents and older sister for a local radio show. The family soon began performing throughout the South.

After returning from military duty in Korea, he signed with Capitol Records. He moved to Columbia Records almost two decades later in the mid-70s, releasing his final No. 1 hit, "Is It Wrong (For Loving You)."

James also appeared in the country-music-themed films "Nashville Rebel," "Las Vegas Hillbillies" and "Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar."

Notable people we lost in 2016:
Notable people we lost in 2016 (deaths)
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Country music singer Sonny James dies at 87

January 1 -- Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., seen here in 2006, passed away at the age of 90. Bumpers' signature moment on the national stage came in 1999, just weeks after leaving the Senate, when he defended Pres. Bill Clinton — who had worked for a challenger's 1974 campaign — before the U.S. Senate during his impeachment trial.

(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

January 4 -- Robert Stigwood, manager of the Bee Gees and Cream.

(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

January 4 -- Country singer Craig Strickland was found dead at age 29 from hypothermia.

(Photo via Instagram)

January 6 -- Pat Harrington, Jr., actor in 'One Day at a Time,' died at 86 from complications from Alzheimer's disease.

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

January 11 -- Singer David Bowie died after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 69.

(AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, FIle)

January 14 -- Actor Alan Rickman, popular for playing Professor Snape in the 'Harry Potter' films, died at 69 after battling cancer.

(Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

January 18 -- Glenn Frey, founding member of The Eagles, died at age 67 due to complications from multiple ailments.

(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

January 29 -- Paul Kantner, guitarist, vocalist and founding member of the band Jefferson Airplane, passed away at age 74 of multiple organ failure following a heart attack.

(AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin, File)

February 2 -- Jibri Bryan, #34, of the Mercer Bears was killed in a shooting at age 23.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

February 4 -- Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, died from the effects of Parkinson's disease at age 74.

(Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

February 4 -- Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the moon, passed away at 85 under hospice care.

(Photo via NASA)

February 13 -- United States Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia.

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

February 19 -- Author of the beloved novel To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

(AP Photo, File)

March 9 -- Beatles producer Sir George Martin passed away at age 90, as announced by Ringo Starr on Twitter.

(Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

March 16 -- Singer Frank Sinatra Jr.

(Photo by Express/Express/Getty Images)

March 24 -- Comedian Garry Shandling at age 66. 

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

March 29 -- Oscar winning actress Patty Duke, at the age of 69.

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) 

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