There was a close relationship between the blues and country music from the very earliest country recordings in the
1920s. As we progressed through the parallel maturity of Western Swing, which combined country style vocals, backed
by steel guitar, with big band jazz, and the 'boogie' craze of the 1940's, artists like
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
and the
Maddox Brothers & Rose began recording what was known as "Hillbilly Boogie", which combined country with
rhythmic bass lines. The Maddox Brothers became the earliest style of rockabillly. The Honky Tonk sound, which
focused on the working-class, took the country music culture and added an energetic, uptempo vibe to Hillbilly Boogie
in the works of
Hank Snow and Hank Williams. By the 1950's, while Bill Haley and Chuck Berry took R&B to a harder
edge, the first rockabilly artist that emerged was guitarist
Carl Perkins. It wasn't long before Memphis married the
sound of all the above. Sam Phillips of Sun Records put a stamp on it and the genre of Rockabilly began sweeping the
South. The line would become blurred forever when a hip-shaking, kid from Tupelo, Mississippi made his way to
Memphis and performed the marriage of black and white music cultures together.  A 1947 song by  Arthur Crudup,
"
That's All Right, Mama" (1954), paved the way for the first rockabilly superstar in Elvis Presley. The rest is history.
James Burton was born August 21, 1939, in Dubberly, Louisiana. A self-taught
guitarist, by the time James was 14, he was part of the house band for the popular
Louisiana Hayride radio show in Shreveport.
Raised around country music as a
teen, Burton left home for the bright lights of Los Angeles, where he joined Ricky
Nelson's band. Burton played lead guitar on all of Nelson's records from
1958-1967. In 1965 he started working on the television program
Shindig! While in
LA,, he was a sought after session guitarist. He wrote and played the guitar solo on
Dale Hawkins 1957 hit, "
Susie Q",
Most everybody associates James with being Elvis Presley's guitarist  when, in
1969, Elvis asked Burton to join his show in Las Vegas.  James formed the TCB
Band and backed Presley from 1969 until Elvis' death in 1977. The hallmark of Elvis'
live shows was his exhortation, "
Play it, James," as a cue for James' guitar solos.
For the first season in Vegas in 1969 he played a red standard
Fender Telecaster.
He shortly after purchased the now familiar
pink paisley custom telecaster. Burton
was not sure that Elvis would like it - but since he did, James used it in every show.
1.
James  Burton
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  • "Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones’ guitarist) thought he had affected a fair imitation of the Burton style and actually
    gave guitar lessons on how to play like James Burton. Some of his paying pupils were Jeff beck, Jimmy Page
    and Ritchie Blackmore." --- James Burton
Other famous collaborations of James' include "Mystery Train" with Vince Gill, Earl
Klugh and Keb Mo, "
I Got a Woman" with Chet Atkins and Albert Lee, "Cluster Pluck,
with Brad Paisley, Vince Gill,
Steve Wariner, Redd Volkaert, Albert Lee, John
Jorgenson, and Brent Mason which won
Best Country Instrumental Performance at
the 2009 Grammy Awards. Other great jams include "
Working Man Blues" with
Seymour Duncan and Brent Mason at the NAMM 2011 Show,
"You Can Have Her"
with Eric Clapton and Jerry Lee Lewis on Lewis' 2010 album
Mean Old Man and one
final jam with Jerry Lee on Chuck Berry's "
Sweet Little Sixteen".
James backed many artists in his early years...Many more than just Elvis, however. Since
the 1950s,  Burton has recorded and performed with such notables as
Dale Hawkins,
Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell,
John Denver, Gram Parsons, Jerry Lee Lewis,
Claude King,
Elvis Costello, Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Suzi Quatro,    
Albert Lee, Ricky Nelson and even Ricky's twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar, The Nelsons.
James even made guest appearances on
Ozzie and Harriet playing duets with Ricky.
During 1975 and 1976, while still touring with Elvis, Burton was one of the first members to
join and tour with
Emmylou Harris as part of her backing band, the "Hot Band", after the
death of Gram Parsons. He was joined by a cast of talented musicians which included his
bandmates with Presley, Glen D. Hardin, and a young Rodney Crowell.
Shortly after Elvis' death, Burton joined John Denver's band. The first album they recorded
together was
I Want to Live. James stayed with Denver until 1994. He rejoined Denver in
1995 for the Wildlife Concert. When Denver died in 1997, Burton spoke at his memorial
service in Aspen, Colorado.
Beginning with King of America (1986), Burton recorded and toured with Elvis Costello intermittently for about a
decade. In 1988, he was part of the acclaimed Cinemax special, Roy Orbison and Friends,
A Black and White Night
In 1990, Burton moved back to his hometown of Shreveport with his family permanently and
in 2005, he began the annual James Burton International Guitar Festival to raise money for
his charitable foundation. The festival is held in the Red River District of Shreveport
James was inducted into the Rock HOF in 2001 with his induction speech given by longtime  
admirer, Keith Richards. He has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2007
he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville as a member of the L.A. session
player group known as
The Wrecking Crew. While on stage at his 2009 International Guitar
Festival, James was inducted into The Louisiana Music HOF. For more on the legendary
James Burton, visit his
official website.
  • "“In the ’60′s, Jimmy Page and I used to get together at my place or his and just roll on the floor listening
    to records. He was a Burton fan too, and carried a picture of James in his wallet.” --- Albert Lee
Yes, They SaiD It...
  • "James Burton is a poet. He plays things on that guitar that are so simple… and there is nobody comparable to
    him.” --- Emmylou Harris
  • "Those early sounds that we did, I just hated them. They sounded so puny. I mean, listening to James
    Burton playing on the Rick Nelson records… and we would come up with our stuff that was so feeble."
    ---  George Harrison
One of the more unique styles among guitarists is James' patented chicken pickin' technique.
This technique and many other aspects of James playing style is revealed in the extraordinary
DVD,
The Legendary Guitar of James Burton
1959   Johnny & Dorsey Burnette    Burnette Brothers

1960's
1965   Dino, Desi and Billy               I'm A Fool
1965   Bobby Vee                            Live on Tour
1965   The Everly Brothers              Beat 'n' Soul
1965   The Everly Brothers              Rock 'n' Soul
1965   Ricky Nelson                        Love and Kisses
1965   Ricky Nelson                        Best Always
1966   Wanda Jackson                   Salute to Country Music HOF
1966   Roger Williams                     Born Free
1966   Jan & Dean                          Save for a Rainy Day
1966    he Monkees                        The Monkees
1966   The Everly Brothers             Two Yanks in England
1966   The Everly Brothers              In Our Image
1966   Ricky Nelson                        Bright Lights & Country Music
1966   Merle Haggard                     Swinging Doors
1966   Mae West                             Way Out West
1966    Buck Owens                        Roll Out the Red Carpet
1967   The Everly Brothers              Everly Brothers Sing
1967   The Monkees                       More of the Monkees
1967   Bonnie Owens                      All of Me Belongs to You
1967   Ricky Nelson                        Another Side of Rick
1967   Ricky Nelson                        Country Fever
1967   Nancy Sinatra                       Sugar
1967   Buffalo Springfield                 Buffalo Springfield Again
1967   Glen Campbell                      Gentle on My Mind
1967   Ian Whitcomb                       Yellow Underground
1967   Jerry Inman                          Lennon / McCartney Country Style
1967   Merle Haggard                     I'm A Lonesome Fugitive
1967   Merle Haggard                     Branded Man
1968   Pat Boone                             Departure
1968   Randy Newman                    Randy Newman
1968   Sandy Nelson                       Rock 'n' Roll Revival
1968   The Everly Brothers              Roots
1968   The Monkees                       Birds, Bees & The Monkees
1968   Judy Collins                          Who Knows Where The Time Goes
1968   Ricky Nelson                         Perspective
1968   Micheal Nesmith                    Wichita Train Whistle Sings
1968   Merle Haggard                      Sing Me Back Home
1968   Buck Owens                          Open Up Your Heart
1968   Mama Cass Elliot                  Dream A Little Dream
1968   Gary Puckett & Union Gap   Incredible
1968   Johnny Rivers                       Realization
1968   Lee Hazelwood                     Love & Other Crimes
1968   Mason Williams                    Phonograph Record
1969   The Monkees                       The Monkees Present
1969   The Monkees                       Instant Replay
1969   Noel Harrison                       Great Electric Experiment Is Over
1969  The Sunrays                          Heaven Bound
1969  Townes van Zandt                 Our Mother The Mountain
1969   Merle Haggard                     Pride In What I Am
1969   Merle Haggard                     Workin' Man Blues
1969   Merle Haggard                     Same Train, A Different Time
1969   Al Wilson                              Searching for the Dolphins
1969   Arlo Guthrie                          Running Down The Road
1969   Bobby Jameson                    Working!
1969   Dale Hawkins                        LA, Memphis & Tyler, Texas
1969   Elvis Presley                         Elvis At The International Hotel
1969   Hoyt Axton                            My Griffin is Gone
1969   Merle Haggard                     Mama Tried
1969   John Hartford                       John Hartford/Radio John
1969   James Burton                       Corn Pickin' & Slick Slidin'
JAMES'  DISCOGRAPHY *
1980's
1980   John Denver                         Autograph
1980   JJ Cale                                  Shades
1980   Charlie Rich                          Once a Drifter
1981   Kenny Rogers                       
Share Your Love
1981   Emmylou Harris                     Cimarron
1981   Emmylou Harris                     Evangeline
1981   Hoyt Axton                             Live
1982   John Denver                         Season of the Heart
1982   Hoyt Axton                            Pistol Packin' Mama
1983   Johnny Cash                         Johnny 99
1983   John Denver                         It's About Time
1984   Chris Hillman                        Desert Rose
1984   Hoyt Axton                            American Dreams
1984   The Standells                       Rarities
1985   John Denver                         Dreamland Express
1986   Elvis Costello                        King of America
1986   John Denver                         One World
1987   Elvis Costello                        Out of Our Idiot
1987   Duane Eddy                          His Twangy Guitar
1988   John Denver                         Higher Ground
1989   Roy Orbison                          A Black & White Night
1989   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Rocket '88
1989   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Heartbreak
1989   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Rockin' My Life Away
1989   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Live at the Palomino Club
1989   JJ Cale                                  Travel-Log

1990's
1990   John Denver                         Earth Songs
1990   The Monkees                        Missing Links Vol.2
1990   John Denver                         Christmas Lullaby
1990   John Denver                         Flower That Shattered the Stone
1990   Carl Perkins                          Classic (Compilation)
1990   Carlene Carter                   
   I Fell in Love
1990   Hoyt Axton                            Spin of the Wheel
1991   Various Artists                      Deadicated: Tribute:Grateful Dead
1991   John Denver                         Different Directions
1991   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Live at the Vapor's Club
1991   Elvis Costello                        Mighty Like a Rose
1993   Neil Young                            Lucky Thirteen
1994   Various Artists                      Shreveport Stomp
1994   George Jones                       The Bradley Barn Sessions
1995   Elvis Costello                        Kojak Variety
1995   Jerry Lee Lewis                    Young Blood
1995   John Denver                         The Wildlife Concert
1997   Dale Hawkins                        Daredevil
1998   Dale Hawkins                        Rock & Roll Tornado
1998   Michael Martin Murphy          Wildfire 1972-1974 Compilation
1998   Willie Nelson                         
Nashville Was  the Roughest

2000's
2000   Dale Hawkins                        Fool's Paradise
2000   John Denver                         Sing Australia Concert
2000   Travis Tritt                            Down the Road I Go
2001   Gram Parsons                       Last Whippoorwill
2001   The Tractors                         Fast Girl
2001   Various                                 Good Rockin; Tonight
2001   Various                                 Shreveport High Steppers
2001   Ricky Nelson                         American Dream: Imperial & Verve
2001   Merle Haggard                      In Concert
2001   Harry Nilsson                         Hollywood Dreamer
2002   Tony Sheridan                      Looking Back
2002   Williams Bros.                      
 Andy & David: The Williams Brothers
2002   Joe Osborn                           Joy to the World
2002   Freddy Cannon                     
Action Plus:(Compilation)
2002   Hank Williams Jr.                  
 Almeria Club: (Compilation)
2004  Ricky Nelson                          Rick's Rarities: (Compilationj)
2005   Pat Boone                            
 Glory Train: The Lost Sessions
2005   Greg Page                            Taking Care of Country
2005   Pat Boone                             Ready to Rock
2005   Brad Paisley                          Time Well Wasted
2005   Judy Collins                           Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen
2005   Del Shannon                         Home & Away (Compilation)
2006   Gram Parsons                     
 Complete Reprise Recordings
2007   James Burton                        Honky Tonk Heroes
2007   Emmylou Harris                     Songbird  
2008   Mad Buffalo                          Wilderness
2008   Brad Paisley                         Play
2010   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Mean Old Man
2010   Darin Warner                        Still Pictures
2010   Darin Warner                        No Regrets
2012   Lisa Dillan                             Quite Quiet Project
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Click on Guitar Watch
1970   Phil Ochs                              Greatest Hits
1970   Elvis Presley                         On Stage
1970   Doug Kershaw                      Spanish Moss
1970   Elvis Presley                         That's the Way it Is
1970   John Philips                          Wolfking of L.A.
1970   Johnny Rivers                       Slim Slo Slider
1971   Ronnie Milsap                       Ronnie Milsap
1971   Micheal Nesmith                    Nevada Fighter
1971   Johnny Rivers                       Home Grown
1971   Delaney and Bonnie             Genesis
1971   Elvis Presley                         Country
1971   Elvis Presley                         Love Letters
1971   Elvis Presley                         Wonderful World Of Christmas
1971   James Burton                        The Guitar Sounds of James Burton
1972   Waylon Jennings                  Heartaches By The Number
1972   The Hagers                           Music on the Country Side
1972   P.F. Sloan                             Raised on Records
1972   Kim Carnes                           Rest on Me
1972   Elvis Presley                         Now
1972   Elvis Presley                         He Touched Me
1972   Elvis Presley                         Elvis Live at Madison Square Garden
1972   Joni Mitchell                          For the Roses
1972   John Stewart                         Sunstorm
1973   Elvis Presley                         Aloha From Hawaii
1973   Phil Everly                            Star Spangled Springer
1973   Hoyt Axton                            JBL Speakers: Sessions
1973   Gram Parsons                      GP
1973   Elvis Presley                         For Ol' Times Sake
1973   Elvis Presley                         Elvis (Fool)
1974   Tina Turner                          Tina Turns The Country On
1974   The Hagers                           The Hagers
1974   Jack Jones                            Harbour
1974   Elvis Presley                         Good Times
1974   Elvis Presley                         Elvis Live in Memphis, Tennessee
1974   Gram Parsons                       Grievous Angel
1974   Henry Mancini                       Country Gentlemen
1974   Hoyt Axton                             Life Machine
1975   Mac Davis                             Burning Thing
1975   Johnny Rivers                       Wild Night
1975   Johnny Cash                         John R. Cash
1975   Hoyt Axton                             Southbound
1975   Emmylou Harris                     Elite Hotel
1975   Emmylou Harris                     Pieces of the Sky
1975   Elvis Presley                         Today
1975   Elvis Presley                         Promised Land
1976   Hoyt Axton                             Fearless
1976   Flying Burrito Brothers          Sleepless Nights
1976   Elvis Presley                         From Elvis Presley Boulevard
1976   Jonathan Edwards                Rockin' Chair
1977   Marilee Rush                        
Marilee Rush
1977   Roger Miller                          Off the Wall
1977   John Denver                         IWant to Live
1977   Jesse Winchester                 Nothing But a Breeze
1977   Jack Jones                            The Full Life
1977   Elvis Presley                         Moody Blue
1977   Elvis Presley                         Elvis in Concert
1977   Emmylou Harris                     Luxury Liner
1977   Hoyt Axton                            Road Songs
1978   The Oak Ridge Boys            Room Service
1978   Rodney Crowell                     Ain't Living Long Like This
1978   Barbara Mandrell                  Moods
1978   Emmylou Harris                     Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
1978   John Denver                         Live at the Sydney Opera House
1978   Nicolette Larson                    Nicolette
1979   Flying Burrito Brothers          Burrito Country
1979   Rosanne Cash                      Right or Wrong
1979   Ronnie Hawkins                    The Hawk
1979   John Denver                         JD
1979   Jerry Lee Lewis                     Jerry Lee Lewis
1979   Hoyt Axton                             A Rusty Old Halo
1979   Hank Williams Jr.                   Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound
1979   Emmylou Harris                     Light Of The Stable
1979   Duane Eddy                          Duane Eddy
1979   Emmylou Harris                     Blue Kentucky Girl
* Note: There are actually many more recordings James played on. Guitar Maniacs edited out the lesser known, more obscure artists he
backed.  For the
complete list, visit James website for the complete discography.
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