Elvis Opening Act Still Singing

August 11, 2003 - Posted at: 10:50pm CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- More than 50 years after opening for Elvis, Sonny Burgess is still singing strongly.

The Newport native began a band called 'Sonny Burgess and The Pacers' in the early 1950s. A few years later, he was opening for acts like Elvis Presley.

"He was the nicest guy in the world, but he was different than everybody else. Carl Perkins said, 'I just wanted to kiss him he was so pretty,'" chuckled Burgess.

Burgess changed bands and band members over the next 20 years.

Burgess recalled, "Then in 1974, I went to work. I had to go in the real world. I had to work for a living, so I worked for a company out of St. Louis for 25 years, and retired a couple of years ago."

However, music returned to Sonny Burgess' life in the 1980s.

"I've got two bands. One's called 'Sonny Burgess and the Pacers'. This is called 'Jeanie and the Four Guys'; that's the woman drummer," said Burgess at a concert Monday night at Sheffield's in Jonesboro.

The singer and musician said 'Jeanie and the Four Guys' is a country rock band, but he said the group plays just about every kind of music.

"It's still fun to play. I hate settin' up and tearin' down. That's not fun, but playin' is fun, and the crowds; we have real good crowds," added Burgess.

'Jeanie and the Four Guys' performed as part of Jonesboro's downtown music series. Bands perform downtown on Friday nights, and on Mondays at either Potlickers or Sheffield's on Main Street.