Sonny Long Is a Legend in His Own Mind

It's a mild Friday evening in May, and the patio at Pure Sushi in downtown Scottsdale is packed with patrons in business casual, sipping sake and discussing everything from the economy to fashion.

Sonny Long is standing inside the restaurant, looking out at the plush, white leather couches through the establishment's all-glass walls. Smooth elevator jazz seeps from the sound system, adding to the surreal vibe. The walls, tables, chairs, even the patrons are all white, and the big, flowing white drapes over the patio resemble drifting clouds. It feels as if Mariah Carey could prance through here at any moment, all covered in glitter and paparazzi camera flashes.

Long's dark skin and clothes contrast with the dreamy, alabaster surroundings, but that's not the only reason the R&B-fusion artist stands out tonight.

Jamie Peachey
Sonny Long, surrounded by his "bodyguards."
Jamie Peachey
Sonny Long, surrounded by his "bodyguards."

For one, he's got a huge guy wearing all black standing beside him, whom Long refers to as his bodyguard. He's also accompanied by a spiky-haired brunette in a curve-hugging dress. Long says she's his publicist.

As they make their way onto the patio, the trio receives a few curious glances from a couple of middle-aged women seated nearby. They look over Long as much as they're able — his "bodyguard" stands in front of him until he's seated and then stands silently beside him with his arms crossed. He looks patient and dutiful, ready to spring into action — just in case any of the aging hipsters here decide to try to lob raw fish at somebody's face.

When you know you're a superstar, you gotta be ready for anything.

It was Long's choice to meet at Pure. He leans back on one of the restaurant's white leather couches and says that he's got only 30 minutes for an interview because he has something to do somewhere else in Scottsdale — but he won't say what or where.

With his pearly white smile, ripped physique, and slick swagger, Long seems part smooth salesman, part cheesy lounge singer drunk on his own act. He's dressed in designer jeans and a new AC/DC "Highway to Hell" T-shirt tight enough to accent his biceps. He's also wearing sunglasses. He's always wearing sunglasses, even when it's dark outside or he's inside a dim nightclub. The way he's ordering around the wait staff at this swanky Scottsdale sushi joint, you'd think he came here regularly and dropped a lot of cash.

Long's just getting warmed up, talking about how he received a key to the city and was honored with "Sonny Long Day" by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, when a couple of employees at Pure start moving around some tables near where he's sitting. Long, apparently concerned that the sound of the tables scraping across the concrete will drown out what he's saying, halts the project.

"Excuse me, guys, can you wait a minute?" Long says. "We're doing an interview here."

Long's bodyguard turns toward the staff and holds up his hand to say, "Stop." The restaurant staff obeys and shuffles off with puzzled looks on their faces. Best not to upset the patrons, especially when they're paying $15 per California roll at the trendy restaurant.

But Long hasn't ordered any food tonight. He says it's the first time he or his companions have been here, but all that they've ordered is water. Maybe Long spent all his money on his entourage or maybe they're just not hungry, but it's unusual to see a musician make such a grand entrance and not holler for a bottle of Cristal (or at least a bottle of wine) for his crew.

He compares his entrepreneurial ambition to Diddy's, his eclectic musical stylings to Prince's. But Diddy probably would have ridden in on a 20-foot flatbed truck with a bevy of dancers in silver spacesuits, and Prince, in fact, is the only other musician we've met who had a bodyguard with him. But Diddy can pay for the dancers with his $346 million fortune, and Prince probably needs a bodyguard because he's sold about 80 million records and is worth about $250 million.

So how much is Sonny Long worth? And why does he need a bodyguard? Is he for real?

"Hey, I'm gonna answer the question like this: Sonny Long, I do me," Long says. "The things that I do in my life, in my world, may not apply to what you do in your life or your world, but . . . We shall see. The music speaks for itself."


But there hasn't been much music.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions make a long journey to the Emerald City to visit "the great and powerful Oz," whom they believe can give them whatever they lack. They finally arrive in the wizard's chambers, shivering at the sound of his booming voice and a large, smoking hologram, only to find that the wizard is actually an unremarkable little man behind a curtain using special effects to appear god-like. The wizard orders them to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Sonny Long is like the little wizard behind the curtain, using smoke and mirrors and bodyguards to appear larger than life. He sometimes seems unaware of the transparency of his game — during the photo shoot for this story, Long insisted on throwing up his hand in an "L" sign. Most people equate that sign with "loser," but he insists it stands for "Long."

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26 comments
acquaintance
acquaintance

I know sonny long and i know he is a liar. All of this story is true. i was told about the article from family of HIS and i had to read it. HE truly is a legend in his own mind. its all true. From the bad boy records deal(LIE) to the slip and slide deal(LIE) he even at one point said he was gonna have a reality tv show! that wasnt published in this article. He is pure lie after lie. one last word.........EXPOSED!!!

Henry Blackwood
Henry Blackwood

Hey Try Again -- so if I try to leave a comment on Sonny Long's MySpace page or sonnylongmusic.com that says he's a sham and his music absolutely sucks balls, then he should leave that comment up there, right? Long has no musical talent whatsoever. He can't even hold a note. I think the few songs he's released are horrible and insulting to my ears and my time. I'm gonna go to his site and write those things. And if he doesn't leave them up there, then he's just a dude on an ego trip.

Try Again
Try Again

Hey Earlessdog

That was really kind of you to try and stick up for Niki but plain and simple her writing sucks. I have researched what she has done in the past and it's just not good. Also, she is not professional it seems when someone expressed there personal feelings on her webpage about her previous work she felt the need to go off. How funny when something negative was said about her she did not like it but yet it was okay when she was doing it to someone else. She is just a chick on a ego trip!!!!!

Jason Swain
Jason Swain

I thought this story was hilarious. The guy was trying to pull a con, and he got caught. Kudos to Niki D'Andrea for writing such an entertaining story. The Wizard of Oz comparison was particularly great.

nat
nat

Is your crew running out of story ideas? this one really sucked. sorry, but it's true. If you need an idea for the next cover, try something that really matters....like "Planet Awesome" for example.

i have faith in you guys. I read every single issue....and they are all fun, but this one just blew my mind on how dull it was.

EarlessDog
EarlessDog

Niki "Andrea" (please read and get it right) has been writing great journalism since junior high - she's received a number of awards for her work over the years. Maybe you don't agree with the opinions expressed, but this is classic Niki - well-written, well-researched, and opinionated. Word-choice, phrasing, sentence structure; this is the way she speaks on a daily basis. You really haven't done your homework and just want to complain.Maybe you like Sonny Long; maybe not. What wanna-be celebrity doesn't warp public perception...? And there's always someone to call them on their BS. That's life. Boo hoo.

j
j

Come on! Niki, you and I both know that you are not the master mind behind the story "Sonny Long Is a Legend in His Own Mind". I took some time to research previous stories written by you and they were not worthy of the ink and paper they were printed with. Everyone who support this article should give all credit to Mike Meyer. In closing, Niki Andrea, you are a real journalist in your own mind. I would like to encourage readers to review Niki Andrea's previous work and see who she really is and why she is so desperate to take credit for a the trash that was written in this article. Otherwise, feel free to read her work and laugh.

Zack Aydelotte
Zack Aydelotte

Great profile of Sonny Long. Of course, you can't help but feel kind of sorry for him at points during the story, but at other points-I'm annoyed with how arrogant and delusional he is. And not just because this is him, but because it's so TYPICAL.

So typical of people in this era. So typical of people in Phoenix in general, unfortunately.

We're all legends in our own minds. If everyone I've met in Phoenix was who they say they were, well, I might as well be famous myself. What, with all the models, musicians, artists, drug dealers and gangsters I know.

Yet these same people have asked to sleep on my couch. They have worked at telemarketing jobs-and quit them. They have been fugitives-on the run from a warrant stemming from a marijuana possession, or DUI arrest. I have watched them beg their significant others not to leave them.

But hey-fake it til you make it right? We've all got to see ourselves as celebrities before anyone else does-and eventually they will realize who we are right?

No, I don't really think so. Because we ALL want to be famous these days. Only so many of us can be, and even after that, so few of us deserve to be.

I've also met some truly great musicians, and truly great people in general-who never draw attention to themselves, and always downplay their talents. They never do shows or concerts, but listening to their work will blow your mind. They are great artists, but not great liars.

Maybe the liars could teach those people about lying, and those people could teach the liars about real talent, and creativity.

It's hard to accept reality. For some people, it's like going from being God to being an ant.

Cassy
Cassy

All I can say is shame on you New Times for trying to destroy someone who is trying to do something positive. Sonny I hope you continue to push on until you reach the top. I attended your show at OT's in November and I really enjoyed it.

mark
mark

To the writers of this story Niki and Mike, why even bother to use the ink, paper and time to write this story. This is not a story about Sonny Long and "who he's not" but "how can we destroy who he is." I believe that it is important to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This article is truly an injustice to Mr. Long. I support Mr. Long I believe he is truly a fighter in taking the punches of New Times unprofessionalism,unethical conduct. Mr. Long has maintained style and class to who he knows he is instead of what others say he is. How many of you could tolerate this type of heat or should I say unresearched lies? That's what I thought, not many of you. And based on all the comments, many of you are not understanding the impact this article has on each of us and our communities. New Times is saying it is okay to manipulate an article for their personal opinion and gain, it is okay to continue to beat an opponent when you are convinced you have successfully depleted him. I believe Mr. Long is that opponent and he gets up dresses his wound and keeps moving forward. That is what a true leader does. I believe Mr. Long is going to embrace this experience and achieve great accomplishments. Thumbs up for Mr. Long!!

TT
TT

I am amazed on how someone could write a story filled with so many lies and people just follow. News flash for the person who went to South Mountain High with sonny Long, It wasn't him. He never attended South Mountain High. Please try again. This time tell you lie with some truth. LOL!

SHONDRA
SHONDRA

WELL I WENT TO SHOOL WITH HIM AND HE'S BEEN A LIAR SINCE IVE KNOWN HIM AT SOUTH MOUNTAIN HIGH..SO I DOUBT THEIR IS ANY HOAXS ON NEW TIMES PART....

~Wisdom
~Wisdom

Ahhh, the lovely media...I applaud you! You should definately win a Nobel Peace Prize for this one. Not to mention your lack of thorough and complete "research"to back your allegations. I am here to support Sonny Long and confirm his show and performance at VYBe Poetry Lounge at Oscar Taylor's Restaraunt and Lounge November 2008.View more Arizona Nightlife photos at aznightlife.com.

and to commend his courage and pray for his strength.

We tell our children when they are young that they should dream and that they can be whatever they want to be if they put their "mind" to it. Motivational speakers such as Anthony Robbins and Rhonda Byrne Author of "The Secret" tell us to believe in ourselves..."This is the secret to prosperity, health, relationships and happiness. This is the secret to life."

So who are we to come through crashing on someone else's dreams, to destroy "VISION"s and judge? "Lie" is such a very strong word, and I wonder how many of you so quick to comment have never "lied" in your life, even if it was only a "little white lie"? so who is really "lying" or exaggerating here?

Our current society is in such a state of emergency, people are depressed and discouraged and instead of offering hope and encouragement we are so ready to tear down the next guy in hopes to make ourselves look and feel better but does it really? and what about in the "LONG" run?

All I can say is to those of you who feel so compelled to jump on the band wagon of negativity and to you the media, pat yourselves on the back for your contribution to making our society suicidal or homicidal.

JJ
JJ

I took four minutes to listen to Long's track "Favorite Girl" on MySpace. Thirty seconds in, it was apparent I'll never get that part of my life back. Long *might* rock the house ripping off Keith Sweat at karaoke, but he is in no danger of "making it" with his current branding plan.

The more compelling story would be that of a regular dude working a regular, honorable job, trying to make it on the hip-hop scene.

Long suffers from what I call, "Urban Narcissistic Personality disorder." He wants put out a tough persona, when in fact, he is product of suburbia. Think Asher Roth with melanin, knock-off Versace shades, and six-pack abs.

The affectations of a doughy, unnecessary bodyguard (probably a high school chum) and translucent post-Goth publicist may be cool for gaining VIP access to Barcelona. I'm sure it enthralls the orange-faced, fake-boobed cougars that gush over such. I'm sure the facade crumbles when they see him climb into a six year old Maxima on 20s and roll out of the parking lot jamming his mixtape that no one has ever heard...

Werd to his mother. She sounds like a nice lady. I'm sure she is embarrassed.

Robert
Robert

I still say this story is a New Times hoax. But any way you swing it, it's still a story about...nothing.

Far better to have just printed several blank pages and let readers make up their own stories...

Jodi
Jodi

So, I can't believe New Times wasted their time trying to destroy someone life. So, what if stretch the truth some. Hey some parts of the stories had to be true. So, why are you trying to destroy this black man. He trying to do something positive with his life, he not gang banging, selling drugs, he trying to get his music out there. Why don't you go and investigate all the killing going on. go investigate some gang members who are shooting and selling drugs. I think your just as scandalous as you tried to make Sonny Long be.

Cricket
Cricket

Althought the article was interesting and quite humerous...I am confused as to why the paper would spending to much time on someone who is an obvious fake. Im sure 99.9% of the population has never heard of this person.....deluded or not. How did Sonny Long get any press in the first place??? Ill pretend to be a deranged fake star and call the newpaper for an interview..if it is that easy!

EJ
EJ

Sooooo, what did Sonny Long and/or his publicist do for the New Times to warrant a cover shot and multi-page article? I can't believe I wasted so much time reading this worthless attempt at journalism.

In fact, I'm mostly disappointed in the writers and editors at New Times. I give Sonny Long credit for having his people convince a normally outstanding periodical like the New Times devote so much time, paper and ink.

Shame on you New Times!

Robert
Robert

C. Jackson:

Okay, how how was all that research in the article "verified?" And exactly who was the Wizrd of OZ? A humbug, a hoaxster.

Just sayin'

C. Jackson
C. Jackson

The article Sonny Long a legend in his own mind was amazing! The writer was so articulate in describing the events from the first meeting all the way to the last. Especially the analogy of the "Wizard of Oz", it really expressed the way Sonny Long is living a lie in his own mind. This article also demonstrated how much research was applied as well as verified. I commend the writer for all the hard work involved.

C. Jackson

Robert
Robert

Why oh why am I getting the feeling that this article is another in a long line of New Times HOAXES?

AZ
AZ

What a joke.....this guys has 0 talent!

helentroy4
helentroy4

OK, tell you what, when the Phoenix New Times runs the story on Sonny's try out with the Suns, I'll apologize for being wrong in seeing in him the troubled mind of someone else I know. The far-ranging, grandiose, no outwardly concrete product of one's claims, refuted claims by those mentioned in the article, and so on.

There is more to this story than is being reported. And I believe that the reporter realized there was a troubled person and backed off. Otherwise this could be a very snide article when writing about him.

ok
ok

Your calling this person delusional because he believes in himself and has a dream? If you don't believe in yourself nobody else will. I admire his drive to go after what he wants in life not many people have that quality. You are who you hang out with and it looks like you've been hanging out with too many psychos.

helentroy4
helentroy4

I always feel very sad when I read stories like this that clearly speak to someone having delusions. I'm no doc but some of his grandiose pronouncements remind me very much of a talented, kind person I knew who suffered from schizophrenia. When I got to the last paragraph and read the part about his declaring that he will be trying out for the Suns, speaking as if... well, if I say it then it is true, it was much like I heard from my friend. Mental illness unfortunately thwarts a talented person from the ability to move forward unless they have someone who not only supports them but who they can trust to make the decisions and moves they are not capable of. Jonathan Winters has spoken many times of how his wife basically propped him up during his worst times and moved him forward because he could trust her.

 
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