August 21: Happy 78th Birthday James Burton

He’s insprired guitarists as diverse as Hank Marvin and Albert Lee. He’s played with musicians from Rick Nelson to Emmylou Harris and from Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello. He is JAMES BURTON, surely the original guitar heroes’ guitar hero.
– Guitarist Magazine, England January, 1992

James Burton is a poet. He plays things on that guitar that are so simple… and there is nobody comparable to him.
– Emmylou Harris, GP Magazine, 1978

I recently was playing it [GE Smith signature Fender Telecaster] with James Burton. That’s amazing. It’s like talking to Jesus. It’s insane.
– GE Smith, 2009

Keith Richards inducts Johnnie Johnson and James Burton to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:


Born August 21, 1939 (age 78)
Dubberly, Louisiana, United States
Genres Rock and roll, rockabilly, country, country rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, dobro
Years active 1952–present
Associated acts TCB BandElvis PresleyRicky NelsonEmmylou HarrisJohn Denver


James Edward Burton (born August 21, 1939, in Dubberly, Louisiana) is an American guitarist. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2001 (his induction speech was given by longtime fan Keith Richards), Burton has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Critic Mark Demming writes that “Burton has a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest guitar pickers in either country or rock … Burton is one of the best guitar players to ever touch a fretboard.”

James Burton Interview 1973 from “Music Makers – Guitar” LP:

The Coconut Grove club Los Angeles 30th September 1987 – Burton/Springsteen solos on “Pretty Woman”:

Since the 1950s, Burton has recorded and performed with an array of notable singers, including:

  • Bob Luman
  • Dale Hawkins
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Elvis Presley (and leader of Presley’s TCB Band)
  • The Everly Brothers
  • Johnny Cash
  • Merle Haggard
  • Glen Campbell
  • John Denver
  • Gram Parsons
  • Emmylou Harris
  • Judy Collins
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Claude King
  • Elvis Costello
  • Joe Osborn
  • Roy Orbison
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Townes Van Zandt
  • Steve Young
  • Vince Gill
  • Suzi Quatro
  • Allen “Puddler” Harris
Elvis Presley & James Burton

Excerpt from Sleepwalk Guitar Talk, filmed during Sleepwalk Guitar Festival, Nov 2-4, 2012. Interviewer Luke Doucet talks to James Burton at the Great Hall in Toronto, ON.


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