SWIFTON, AR (KAIT) - A local landmark for the past 59 years, Bob Kings' "King of Clubs" burned to the ground early Monday morning.
Region 8 News visited the site and learned new details on the clubs final hours and it's remarkable history.
Club operator Brian Drost said when he and his wife locked up about 10:30. Every thing seemed fine..and then the phone rang.
"About a quarter to 2 this morning our son who works for Jackson County woke us up and we got up here and stayed for about an hour and it was still going."
The building still smolders while beer cans and kegs explode making it too dangerous right now to determine the cause of the fire. In the rubble you could see chair and table frames. The charred remnants of the pool tables and the twisted corrugated metal roofing that had covered the building. A savage fire no doubt but this fire destroyed more than just a building. It destroyed history.
It was more than just a place to have a cold beer. It was an historic landmark.
Drost, "Some of the greats started out here."
I spoke with Rock and Roller Sonny Burgess on the phone. He told me he and his band had first played there in 1954. The clubs' 60th anniversary was planned for 2011.
J.R. Rogers told me the roll call list of performers reads like a Who's Who of Rock and Roll. "Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Sonny Burgess, Billy Lee Riley. All of them started right here. "
The walls were covered with pictures of everyone who had played there. Priceless Mementos burnt up in a matter of minutes. Including a wall dedicated to the former owner, Bob King.
Drost, "Everybody that had come through that had autographed something for Bob or his wife Evelyn we hung up over there. A lot of things over the years."
Have they found anything salvageable?
Drost, "We've looked from the outside here. It's still too hot to get in there. But from the looks of it out here there's nothing. There's not a thing."
Even though the last of the original clubs is now gone J.R. Rogers says the spirit and musical accomplishments that occurred in the old building along the Rock and Roll Highway will live on.
"I hate to see the building gone but it don't diminish from the fact of what happened right here in NorthEast Arkansas."