By Ed Gaines

On August 13, 2021, longtime Sonoita resident John E. Mann, a professional country musician and a good friend to many, passed away after a long battle with COVID-19.

John is survived by the love of his life, fiancé Darlene Miller; daughters Tracy Thompson and Tammy (Greg) Bliss; sister Sherry (Rich) Hagenah; brother Dennis (Cathy) Manherz. He was predeceased by sister Georgeann (Ed) Wendler. He is also survived by five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, as well as many fans and good friends. 

John was a country boy. He was born in Pennsylvania and grew up on a farm. He developed a love for horses at an early age and bought his first horse before he bought his first car. In his early teens he moved to Tucson, residing in Arizona ever since.

In addition to Darlene, John had other loves. John loved classic country music. He was a professional musician from age 13 up until the time of his death. He recorded in Nashville and played at many venues throughout Arizona. Recent venues include the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, The Maverick Club in Tucson, The Café and The Copper Brothel. John’s last performance was at the Maverick on July 18, 2021. 

John’s voice seemed to get better with age. He demonstrated this at his last performance yodeling and reaching high notes that even he was surprised to reach with ease.

John also loved horses, in particular cutting horses. He competed at ranch sorting and team penning events until the time of his death. 

I met John in the 1990s and we struck up a friendship which resulted in us traveling to rodeos all over the West for almost two decades. We went to rodeos in Kalispell, Denver, Cheyenne, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Reno, Las Vegas and Laughlin. The fact that John continued to chase cows up until age 77 speaks to his passion for horses and the sports of ranch sorting and team penning. 

John loved the outdoors and nature. He enjoyed hunting deer and elk and fishing. I am blessed with memories of many hunts and fishing trips throughout the state with my good friend. John also enjoyed observing deer which came to his home off Terry Lane for alfalfa. He would get ten to 12 deer in and he would name them all. This was a source of great joy to John. 

John loved Sonoita. He loved participating in community activities. He spent many years in homes off Hwy 83, halfway between Sonoita and I-10. During this time, he could frequently be found in Sonoita visiting restaurants, playing at establishments, or attending rodeos, horse races and fairs. In 2011 John moved to Elgin after purchasing a home he planned to remodel. I took pleasure in helping with the remodel which resulted in a beautiful home off Homestead Lane. 

One of many fond memories arose out of a trip to the Houston Rodeo 15 years ago. We had decided to drive straight through, about 16 or 17 hours from Sonoita, and as the sun was rising over west Texas I began singing (I thought softly to myself) “Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait. After a minute or so, John turned to me and said “Ed, we need to reach an agreement here.” I said, “Sure John what did you have in mind?” John turned to me and said “Ed, I will leave the lawyering to you if you leave the singing to me.”

I will continue to leave the singing to you, my good friend.

Arrangements for a Celebration of Life Ceremony are pending and will be announced.