They called him the old King Street Singer.
And for good reason.
Samuel Irwin "Sonny" Goldberg crooned his way into the hearts and homes of Charlestonians when he began recording radio and then TV commercials for his father's furniture store on King Street in 1955.
Strumming a ukulele, he would sing a couple of bars of his serenade before stopping to say, "My father tells me not to waste his money singing and tell you about the great values at J.L. Goldberg's ..."
Written by Jack Gale, the original number went like this:
"They call me the old King Street Singer 'cause I sing whenever I'm blue And if you should be feeling lonely I recommend it to you. You may not be Mario Lanza or Fisher or Como or Bing But you'll feel so great in the morning If you open your mouth and sing."
Today, the city of Charleston is singing Sonny Goldberg's praise.
A plaque will be dedicated to the memory of the well-known and beloved businessman at 445 King St., where Sonny opened his own furniture store, Sonny Goldberg Funiture Center, in 1981. The building is now home to women's clothier Putumayo.
There will be a short ceremony in front of the building with Mayor Joe Riley, Melvin Solomon and Robert Goldberg, Sonny's son, before the unveiling. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m.
"His personality had become an ingrained part of our city's life," said Riley after Sonny's death on Feb. 27, 1997. "On King Street, as the King Street Singer, he was loved by all. A very special part of Charleston was lost when Sonny Goldberg died."
A devout Orthodox Jew, his furniture store was always closed on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. Sonny was born in 1922 on Radcliffe Street. He got his nickname from his father, J.L. Goldberg, who liked to sing Al Jolson's "Sonny Boy."
Not long after his 10th birthday Sonny was working at his father's
furniture store, which opened in 1934. Nearly 20 years later Sonny graduated from working routes, selling couches and collecting payments to handling advertising for J.L. Goldberg's.
"I didn't have so much faith in radio advertising in 1955," Goldberg said in a newspaper article. "I had a big newspaper ad. Then this guy came to talk me into radio time. I told him I would try it for a week without the newspaper. It laid an egg."
Sonny carried the "King Street Singer" commercials with him to his furniture store, and they aired until it closed in the mid-1990s.
The commercials did, however, change with the times.
If you're too young to remember the original serenade, perhaps this catchy refrain from the rap version, which hit the airwaves in the 1980s, will ring a bell:
"Go Sonny Go, Go Sonny Goldberg, Go Sonny Go, Go Sonny Go-Goldberg ..."