Song Lyric Sunday | “Black Pearl” – Sonny Charles and The Checkmates

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is Diamond/Emerald/Jade/Pearl/Ruby/Sapphire.


Performed by Sonny Charles and The Checkmates, Black Pearl was a 1969 hit; #8 on the R&B chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Written by Phil Spector, Toni Wine, and Irwin Levine, the song is described as “one of the great Phil Spector productions, a phenomenal song with his extraordinary sound.” Black Pearl was arranged by composer Perry Botkin, Jr. who would win a Grammy Award nearly a decade later for Nadia’s Theme, the theme song from daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

The single ranked #66 on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1969.


  • From Fort Wayne, Indiana, The Checkmates began as Checkmates, Ltd. They were discovered by Nancy Wilson and included both black and white members.
  • The group broke up in 1970, but reunited in 1974 for a few more years. They performed on the same billing as Frank Sinatra and Herb Alpert, and sang the National anthem for the Thrilla in Manila–the final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier–in 1975.
  • Sonny Charles joined and toured with the Steve Miller Band from 2008 until 2012.
  • On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Checkmates, Ltd. among hundreds of artists who lost material in the 2008 Universal fire.


See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for Nesie’s Place!


Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Black Pearl

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