Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to Dick Clark

Dick Clark was born this day in 1929 in Mt. Vernon, NY.  Clark has hosted many popular shows and anual events including American Bandstand, Pyramid, TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.  It's likely that he has done more for promoting popular music through the years than anyone else.  Clark interviewed Elvis Presley on the first show of American Bandstand in August of 1957.  He's also hosted, created and produced numerous radio and tv shows such as The Dick Clark Radio Show, The Dick Clark National Music Survey, The U.S. Music Survey, Rock, Roll Remember,  and the ever popular music awards show American Music Awards.

Here's a tribute hosted by Ryan Seacrest for Dick Clark and American Bandstand:

part 1

part 2

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Rudolph"...the most famous of Reindeer (Chris Isaak, Ventures & More)

While Rudolph didn't play in any Reindeer games, he's certainly the most famous!!  Check out various covers of "Rudolph" and let me know which you prefer...also, pick up the Chris Isaak Christmas CD for only $6.34 right now at Amazon (see link below if interested).  On to the tunes....

Chris Isaak and Stevie Nicks

The Jackson 5

Ray Charles

The Crystals

Gene Autry

The Ventures

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RCA announces Elvis' signing

RCA purchased Elvis' contract, his singles and unreleased masters from Sam Phillips of Sun Records for $40,000 ($35,000 to Sun and a $5,000 signing bonus to Elvis).  Elvis remained with RCA until the time of his death in 1977.  Below is a version of "When It Rains It Really Pours" that he recorded while at Sun in 1955.  He later re-recorded it in 1957 for RCA which is the version that was released.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stopping in on "Lowdown Hoedown" with Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters

We stopped in to see Greg Martin from The Kentucky Headhunters on his killer blues-based show "The Lowdown Hoedown" on WDNS (D93) in Bowling Green, KY.  For more info on both, go to:

If you missed our interview for the site a few weeks back, click HERE.

Hear Greg do the theme song to his show as well as a quick guitar lesson from DangerousGuitarCom below.  Thanks again for the hang!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hanging with Billy Burnette

Really enjoyed spending time with Billy Burnette today.  My 11 year old son Connor (far right) told me his Christmas wish list recently.  It included an album by the Burnette brothers (Johnny & Dorsey) as well as Billy Burnette.  Billy was gracious to show us around The Jungle Room (Billy's basement studio) and spend some time with Connor which was a huge thrill for him.  Check out this recent live performance of "Wrong One Right" from his recent Rock N Roll With It album..

Also, in case you missed the interview we did recently, go HERE

For more info, log on to

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New London super-group KING MOB

KING MOB is a brand new English beat combo comprising guitar legend Chris Spedding (Roxy Music, Elton John, John Cale, Paul McCartney), Glen Matlock - bass (Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Faces), Martin Chambers – drums (Pretenders), Stephen W Parsons aka Snips – vocals (film composer and vocalist of legendary 70’s band Sharks) and introducing hot new guitar talent Sixteen.

The Mob, who are heavily influenced by two great composer band leaders, Duke Ellington and Jimmy Page, will release their debut album FORCE 9 through SPV/Steamhammer on 31 October 2011 on 11 track CD and 180g Vinyl LP with gatefold sleeve, 7 tracks.

The album shows a band at the height of their powers. From the sharp riffing of the first single “Selene Selene” to the truly infectious “VA VAH VOOM”, from the gentle groove of “Chapel Of Love” to the blast of album opener “Lover Of High Renown”, this is an album that draws on the collective experience of all members to create something completely unique. The band draw on the Spirit of ’69 – but not in a retrospective way – they are bringing the raw power and spirit of that golden age of music into a contemporary setting - from the songwriting, to the playing, to the sound of the records, to the live show, to the spirit of the act. The album was recorded in four days…

The group has signed an exclusive recording deal with SPV/Steamhammer for the World excluding North America and have released their first single ‘Selene Selene’, which is available to download now for free at Amazon:

For further information, videos and track samples head to the official website and Facebook page:

"Selene Selene" music video

Friday, November 18, 2011

Junior Parker dies this day in 1971

Junior Parker died this day in 1971 during surgery for a brain tumor.  He was only 39 but his influence was a big one on Elvis Presley and many others.  He is pictured to the left of Elvis in the photo above.  To the right is Bobby "Blue" Bland.  Elvis covered "Mystery Train" in 1955 as one of his few singles he recorded for Sun Records.  Ike Turner originally signed Parker to Modern Records in 1951.  This got Sam Phillips attention who signed him to Sun in 1953 and produced his version of "Mystery Train" at that time.  He continued to record for various labels until the time of his death including Duke, Capitol, Mercury and others.  Hear several versions of his signature song "Mystery Train" starting with his own...

Junior Parker

Elvis Presley

Brian Setzer

Eric Clapton & Scotty Moore

Rick Nelson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

John Mellencamp "No Better Than This" at Sun Studio

The music video for "No Better Than This" came out around this time last year but it's so good it needs repeating case you missed it last year.  The title cut from his latest project sets the tone for this great album.  You'll recognize shots of Sun Studios as John and the band recorded some of this album there.  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bruce Johnston: From Pet Sounds to Pink Floyd and having time to SMiLE

photo courtesy of Bruce Johnston

If Bruce Johnston decided to retire right now, his music career would be one of the most impressive around.  Luckily, retiring is pretty far from his mind.  You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about the future and the music he's yet to discover.  We recently got a chance to talk about his early influences and what it means to be a part of a band like The Beach Boys.  His career is far from being limited to that iconic band though.  He's been involved with songwriting, producing and arranging of some pretty impressive projects.  His talents can be heard on songs from Elton John to Pink Floyd to Barry Manilow to The Rip Chords.  A lot is being written about The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary and the release of SMiLE which proves they are still a relevant force in the music industry.  Bruce is excited about what he's been able to be a part of in the past but may very well be more excited about what is yet to come!

You had a pretty famous group of friends from University High School in West Los Angeles with Jan Berry, Dean Torrence, James Brolin, Ryan O’Neal and others.
With The Beach Boys in 1967 (on far right side).
Photo courtesy of Bruce Johnston
The great thing is that everybody starts young.  It’s kind of fun that I knew all these people.

What were your influences during this high school time?
Growing up in the 50’s, when we were conscious of music in Jr. High School and all that, the radio was a mixture of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Peggy Lee, Little Richard…you know there was a lot of yin and yang because you couldn’t stop these unusual rock records and rockabilly records like Gene Vincent.   Rockabilly was absolutely fabulous.  Rockabilly broke through.  Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”…we even play that now….a lot of cool stuff.  As a guy who’s 69 ½… I was listening to my parents records from the 40’s like Glenn Miller.  Glenn Miller was huge.  You have to understand the roots of the world down in the south.  You’re getting a lot of blues stuff coming in over the years.  From Ireland, Scotland and England you’ve got all that Appalachian stuff when they brought the guitars over here.  The music in life we hear goes into a blender…comes out of a blender…processed to something else.  You kind of wind up hearing everything…so lucky me…I heard a lot.  And I’ve got more to hear.  I will say honestly, I like to go over my Sinatra stuff but currently I kind of got hooked on the "not-so-complicated sound, but beautifully written songs" in Country music for the last 30 years. So I love that.  Every morning when I get up and take a shower, I’ve got a great radio in the bathroom that is on the Country station in Santa Barbara.  The Country music keeps me sane.

My 11-year-old son always gets to ask a question and this one fits perfectly for the high school topic and time period for you.  Did you want to be in a band?
Never.  Just high school band at the time.  High school band was plenty because I met all the girls.  I was also a cashier in the cafeteria and met all the girls and got a free lunch.  What I was  able to do was  be in a band that sounded like the radio and girls loved that!

You were in a band with Sandy Nelson around this time, weren’t you?
He was like a recording studio mentor when I was 15 years old.  He was like 18.  I was in the band with him and we had Phil Spector in the band, and he was 18.  Boy, did it sound like the radio or what?!  Shortly thereafter, Sandy plays on this hit “To Know Him Is To Love Him” that Phil Spector wrote.  I don’t want to say this is rock & roll….it was all pop…but pop music back then would be considered Sinatra so I don’t know what the hell they called it.  I went on to backing up people.  I remember Duane Eddy having a show.  Dick Dale opened.  There was a few more on and we backed them up.  Dick Dale was a greaser, rockabilly guy before his surf thing.  I started surfing around then.  Guys started making surfing movies.  We had an east coast jazz and west coast jazz thing.  Pacific Jazz Records had Chico Hamilton and Bud Shank.  They started making surfing movies and started putting the Pacific Jazz albums to the soundtrack.  A surf film producer in the late 50’s would have a recorder he’d project a surf movie on.  He’d narrate it live and play this very cool jazz.  Well, somehow in the mix somebody started putting The Ventures to the soundtrack and that really struck a chord with the young surfers.  That got all the guitar guys going.  Surf guitar that you hear today sounds the same as it did a million years ago. 

One of my favorite live albums is that fun project you did in 1963 called Surfer’s Pajama Party.  Can you tell me a little bit about  making that album?
That literally was at a fraternity party.  I went to UCLA.  Did you ever see Animal House?  I swear to God when I saw that I thought it was a documentary of the time I recorded that album and the toga parties.  I never saw drugs to tell you the truth.  I’ve still never participated in it.  But Animal House was so accurate for the times of that album.  That album is like listening in to any band playing a college party.  There’s no depth to the album…there’s not supposed to be.  It’s just kind of cool.

So in 1965 you joined The Beach Boys after Glen Campbell left to pursue a solo career.  How did that come about?
I was on staff at Columbia Records as a producer with Terry Melcher.  We had a band called The Rip Chords that we signed.   They couldn’t sing in the style of The Beach Boys so we became their voices on a song called “Hey Little Cobra” that was top 10 and sold a million copies.  Jan & Dean were across the street from our studio.  Across another little street were The Beach Boys.  I was consulted to find someone to take Glen Campbell’s place, who took Brian’s place, and I couldn’t find anybody.  So I said I could come for the weekend and that’s how it started.

Wasn’t the first song you sang on in the studio with The Beach Boys “California Girls”?
That whole ablum…Summer Days Summer Nights.  I had never sung harmony in a group before.  I had used a little multi-tracking with Terry Melcher.  I had never been around a mic with people.  It was just unbelievable to have that experience.  Your feet are right to the fire.  “Ok, come on sing a part”.  I was too nervous to say no.

Pet Sounds is certainly one of the greatest rock albums of all time.  “God Only Knows” is still a masterpiece today.  Originally, weren’t all the Beach Boys singing on that song along with Terry Melcher?
Yeah…and Brian’s wife and his sister in law.

Then Brian pulled it back to just you, Carl and himself.
Yeah that’s right

After the album was finished you went to England and played this for people like Keith Moon, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  What was that like?
Keith Moon kind of introduced me to John & Paul.  I played the Pet Sounds album twice.  They were in the middle of Revolver.  From their point of view, the spirit of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” went in to “Here, There & Everywhere”.  Brian takes a bow for everything.  You know what I mean?  He gets it.  I just happened to be the lucky “fed-ex” guy.

Besides being a member of The Beach Boys, you have also been successful as a songwriter, with songs like “I Write The Songs”, which became a huge hit for Barry Manilow in 1975.
When Clive Davis played the recording over the phone, they held back the drums until after the bridge.  It waited so long to explode.  I said “Clive, I don’t know if it’s a hit.  It’s just so sophisticated for most of the recording.”

Didn’t you win a Song Of The Year Grammy for that?
Yeah a real Grammy.  You can’t fix that…it’s the real deal.

How did your involvement with Pink Floyd’s The Wall come about?
They wanted the Beach Boys.  We were in Dallas the day they were available.  The producer was going to fly down.  We lined up a recording studio that was part of a film studio…really a fantastic studio.  They had to change their schedule and we didn’t have time to reconnect with them.  Roger Waters called me and said “can you get some singers to sing on it if the band’s not available”.  The one I would really have loved to have done was “Another Brick In The Wall” with the young boys choir.  Anyway, so I lined up some great studio singers…Toni Tennille…you know “Love Will Keep Us Together”…I don’t think she even had a hit then…well maybe she did.  I used her on Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”.  I did the vocal arrangements for that.  When you look at the credits, they shrink it for CD’s.  Now maybe my credit will come back larger when we look on the web (laughs).  Toni went to a sports arena performance of The Wall 3 years ago.  Some “too heavy, too cool for his own body” guy said “what are you doing here?”  She said “I sang on the recording!” (laughs)

You did a fun disco version of “Pipeline” for your Going Public album in 1977.  How did that come about? 
That was the first disco 12 inch Columbia ever had.  We were just jamming in the studio and I said “hey let’s play this” and that’s how it came out.

It seems like every 10 years there is a renewed interest in the Beach Boys, with a new generation discovering you guys.  The 80’s were a huge time for this including the smash hit “Kokomo” in 1988.  Was that the band’s biggest hit?
Impact-wise, no…but as far as pure sales, yes.  It sold 12 million albums.  It’s a wonderful song but hats off to “I Get Around”, “Good Vibrations” and all that other stuff.  That’s more important songwriting for the band.

In 1996 The Beach Boys did a great duets project with Country artists like Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Sawyer Brown, and others (Stars and Stripes Vol. 1).  Was it a surprise that the country audience accepted it?
No, not really.  Country guys love rock & roll.  They’ve listened to everything.  I knew that.  The first song we recorded was “The Warmth of the Sun”.  All the Beach Boy’s songs live are in the original keys.  We had to move it up because Willie had to sing it low so we had to sing it high and it’s a really good recording.  The whole thing was great.

You produced the fun Symphonic Sounds:  Music  of the Beach Boys project in 1998.  I know you were particularly happy with the way Tammy Trent’s “God Only Knows” came out on that.
Now that to me is the best recording outside of The Beach Boys recording.  The arrangements are absolutely stunning.  The 85 musicians were playing those arrangements over at Abby Road were absolutely fabulous.  That’s just a great unknown recording (laughs).  

I understand that you, Mike Love, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine got together to re-record “Do It Again” this summer?
You know when you go up to a mic and you go “test 1,2,3,4” when you do a soundcheck?  I think that’s what “Do It Again” was.  “Hi boys, I know you haven’t recorded together in 3,000 years…test 1,2,3,4…Do It Again”. (laughs)

This year marks the end of the 44 year wait for the release of SMiLE.  Did you ever think that would come out?
I actually never thought about it to tell you the truth.  From my point of view, Brian chose not to finish it.  I think the SMiLE he finished might be more interesting to him than the SMiLE that’s been released now.  In other words, Brian Wilson the solo artist (see info here), with the support of the musicians in his band that are fabulously, ridiculously cool, emotionally finished the SMiLE songs he composed over there and not here because it’s not finished…and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Have you heard the project?

Oh yeah.  I had to get a copy immediately.
How many copies? (laughs)  Which one did you buy?  There are so many versions.  I picked up the double vinyl disc version!  I do have Brian’s version from a few years ago on CD as well.

So with the 50 year anniversary and the SMiLE release, there have been lots of rumors of a reunion tour.  Is there anything you can talk about?
Nothing has been booked.  I know there have  been offers in Japan.  There are offers out there.  You have to sort out how they translate back to you in terms of business.  I’m just going to stand by.

Do you still like to surf?
I’m looking out my window right now.  I live 150 feet from the beach at high tide.  My surf spot when I was a young boy is to my left and my beach club that I belong to is on the right.  The water is always cold.  You always have to wear a wet suit here in Santa Barbara.  So don’t think when you come out here you’re going to run in to the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, or Dick Dale and jump in the ocean and be warm.  It’s not like the weather below you there…It’s cold!
With The Beach Boys in Norway in 1980 (front left)
photo courtesy of Bruce Johnston
Which website do you recommend to get all the news about the band?
Beach Boys Britain.  Go to google and type in “BBB message board” and that will get you to all the people chattering and that’s really interesting.  (click HERE)

What are some songs that you never get tired of playing live?
The one that is not in the set enough is “Warmth Of The Sun”.  Oh my God…that’s killer.  Another that’s not in the set hardly at all is “Please Let Me Wonder”.  That was the back side of “Do You Wanna Dance?”.  I like playing “California Girls”.  I think Mike’s lyrics are so on the money.  I told Mike the other day that you start like a garage band and you instantly get on the radio.  You’re struggling but you have stuff on the radio.  You have a Christmas album and have “Little Saint Nick” as a hit.  When you turn that hit over, you have an a capella version  of “The Lord’s Prayer” with very modern harmony.  For me if the career ended right there and I was the age I’m right now, I would be so proud and satisfied that I had some great hits, a seasonal hit and to top it off with the most difficult vocal arranging of my career with “The Lord’s Prayer”.  It was so incredible. 

Do you ever step back and take a look at all the great projects you’ve been a part of…both solo and with the band?
Well people do these things and if they live long enough they get interviewed constantly about what happened.  You never probably think people have more to offer but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.  What I decided  to do was enjoy these brilliant reruns because we go all the way up to playing with a ton of symphonies.  Although I, Bruce Johnston, may wrinkle quite naturally like Paul McCartney but my writing doesn’t.  I decided I’m going for writing for tv and movies.  I always torture Mike about writing because he’s so good.  I told him the other day that nothing happens until you write it…whether it’s a book, screenplay or words in music.  That’s always been my whole thing.  I never thought I’d be in a band.

You seem to keep a lot of stuff going.
I do 140-170 concerts a year.  It’s really all cool.  I’m thinking about “what’s next?”   I’m not thinking about when I’m going to retire.  By thinking “what’s next”, you still feel like you’re still contributing your talent.  You’re contributing your talent by reassembling night after night even though the set list changes every night.  That’s one way to look at it.  As I love the writing talent better, I’m kind of doing the Clint Eastwood move.  Instead of just staying in front of the camera, he got on the back of it and the side of it by writing.  That’s what I want to do.  I kind of peeled back on my writing and raised 4 children.  The last one is in grad school.  So instead of retiring I have time to focus.        

"Down Under" 1963
"Friends"- The Beach Boys 1968

"I Can Hear Music"- The Beach Boys 1969

"Disney Girls" 1975

"I Write The Songs" 1975

"Pipeline" 1975

"Kokomo"- The Beach Boys 1988

With The Beach Boys at Ronald Reagan Tribute February 2011

SMiLE promo

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Beatles First Recordings 50th Anniversary Edition

Time Life just recently released this 2 disc set of the first recordings by The Beatles along with Tony Sheridan.  This marks the 50th anniversary of these recordings.  Hear "Ain't She Sweet" from these recordings here...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Here he comes...walking down the street...Micky Dolenz on Buddy Holly tribute

Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" was released this day in 1957.  I recently came across a Buddy Holly tribute medley by Micky Dolenz released in 1974.  Micky had a successful reunion tour with The Monkees to celebrate their 45th anniversary.  Find out what he's up to at his site-  Enjoy this obscure medley of Buddy Holly that starts with "Peggy Sue"...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Everly Brothers record 1st single this day in 1955

A couple of years before their smash hit recordings of "Bye Bye Love", "Wake Up Little Susie" and many more on Cadence Records, The Everlys recorded a single for Columbia in 1955 that failed to get a lot of attention.  Here are the 2 sides to this single....

"Keep A Lovin' Me"

"The Sun Keeps Shining"

Friday, November 4, 2011

New video from The Dirt Daubers- "Angel Along The Tracks"

In case you missed the recent interview with Mark Robertson of The Dirt Daubers and Legendary Shack Shakers, go here-  They recently released "Angel Along The Tracks" from their fantastic new album, Wake Up Sinners.  Check it out...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New album and video from Lanie Lane

Lanie Lane's bio describes her sound as "imbued with the spirit of Muddy Waters, and channeling the grit of Billie Holiday". She is that and so much more. You'll hear jazz, blues and rockabilly influences wrapped up in a unique style that is all her own. This Australia native just released her new project, To The Horses which is available now. Earlier this year Jack White produced a single introducing a lot of us in the USA to her vintage style. Here's her latest video for the track "Oh Well That's What You Get Falling In Love With A Cowboy"...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Billy Burnette: Fleetwood, Fogerty & a Family of Rockabillies

Billy Burnette knows what it's like to grow up in the music business.  His dad was Dorsey Burnette and his uncle was Johnny Burnette.  Johnny's son Rocky is also a singer and you'll read how he and Billy played a key role in naming their parents music from the mid-50's.  Billy's career has taken him from solo records to fronting Fleetwood Mac to touring with legends like Bob Dylan and John Fogerty and back to solo projects.  Rock N' Roll With It is his latest and it goes back to his rockabilly roots.  I had the opportunity to talk about his whole career and dig into specific tracks on this latest project with Billy recently.

My 11 year old son likes to get involved with these and his question for you is a great place to start since it’s at the very beginning.  He wants to know if you’re really the “Billy” in “rockabilly”?
Yeah!  They (Dorsey and Johnny) wrote it right after we were born.  I’m a month older than Rocky.  They wrote the song “Rock Billy Boogie”.  That kind of made the term.  It was rock & roll and hillbilly music mixed together but they kind of came up with the phrase “rockabilly” and that was the first time a lot of people started using it.

They were such a wild, raw rockabilly sound.  Plus, I read they were amateur boxers.  Did they scare people back then with being so tough?
Dorsey (left) and Johnny (right)
They were tough.  You had to be kinda tough playing that kind of music back then because nobody was doing it.  The south was a different place then.  You just had to be tough.  They had to fight their way out of clubs.  My dad was a boxer and fought Sonny Liston in an exhibition room in St. Louis.  They were into it.

They were punk rock before there was such a thing.
Yeah they were.  They influenced a lot of the English bands.  The Beatles covered “Lonesome Tears In My Eyes”.  Elvis used to come around to Lauderdale Courts where they played.  That’s where they rehearsed.  The band was in the laundry room.  Elvis would come around and my dad would run him off every once and a while.  “Boy, get out of here!” (laughs)  They made it up to him.  They kind of turned him on to Scotty Moore and Bill Black back then.

Didn't you start your career at age 7?
I recorded my first record in 1960 for Dot Records.

At 13 you toured with Brenda Lee.  Did you think this was normal for all kids your age?
I thought it was.  I thought that every family was involved in music because my uncle was involved in it.  I was involved in it.  Everybody was in it.  All of our friends were musicians.  I’d be hanging around the house and there’d be Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, Gene Vincent and people like that hanging around.

Speaking of Roger Miller, you toured with him for a bit.
Yeah, I did some touring with Roger early on.  Mostly we did Vegas.  Back then we’d do Vegas for 2-3 weeks at a time.

Wasn't this the time your songwriting skills really came into shape?
You know I was around guitars all the time but I didn’t really pick it up until I was around 13 or 14.  I think it was about the time I was in Japan with Brenda (Lee).  I got into playing guitar when I got back.  I wish I had gotten it started a little earlier.  As soon as I started, I was making up stuff and writing songs.  A week out of high school my dad took me down to Memphis to meet Chips Moman.  I had grown up in LA.  There were some great writers down there like Mark James, Johnny Christopher, Bobby Woods, Dan Penn and Chips himself.  I learned how to write songs through those guys.  They were writing hit after hit. 

You’ve had a lot of artists cut your tunes.
A couple of years ago we did the Grammy’s with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.  I gave a cd to Jerry of Shawn Camp and myself.  He’s cut 2-3 songs off that already.  We’re excited to hear that.  I used to work with Jerry and my dad years ago.  He had cut “Honky Tonk Heaven”.   I had songs cut by The Everly Brothers.  I’ve been writing with Phil Everly and wrote a really cool song with him. 

One of my favorite tracks off of that last studio project for Roy Orbison called Mystery Girl was a track you wrote titled “(All I Can Do Is) Dream You”.  What was that like?
That was a funny story.  It was a great day for me.  I got the call to join Fleetwood Mac as I was in the studio with Roy doing my song.  Roy and I had even done the background vocals on that.  Rick Vito played guitars on it.  Mick (Fleetwood) called and said “You have that guitar player that played on the demo the other night?”.  Mick and I had a group called The Zoo.  I was kind of accepted in to their whole family anyway.  I had started writing with Christine (McVie).  I did a duet with Stevie Nicks.  Lindsey (Buckingham) actually got me in the band to go to New York to do Saturday Night Live with them.  But yeah that was a big day being in the studio with Roy and his wife Barbara.  T-Bone (Burnette) was producing and Jim Keltner was playing drums.  T-Bone Walk was playing bass.  Bless his heart though he’s passed away since then.  It was just a great session and Roy was so great.  Roy said “will you sing a ghost vocal for me?” which means do a vocal for him to learn from.  We wrote this for Roy.  He cut it and it was a great thrill for me.
Billy Burnette in Fleetwood Mac (far right)

Did you have a moment where you freaked out a bit realizing you were in the band?
They were one of my favorite bands!  I had met Mick at a Dick Clark Anniversary.  We sat at the same table and hit it off.  They were forming a band and Mick called and asked if I wanted to join a band and I said “Don’t you already have one?”   They wanted to put together a fun band.  We started working on a record.  We did an album called The Zoo.  We cut “Tear It Up” on that one too.  When I joined Fleetwood Mac they were in production of Tango In The Night.  And I had a record out that was doing pretty good at the time.  I was nominated for Best New Country Male Vocalist for the ACM Awards.  When he called and asked me to join I asked “when do you want this to happen?”  He said “tomorrow morning” (laughs).  I had to get on the phone that night with Curb.  Mike Curb was gracious enough to let me out of my record deal.  They wanted me to be freed up to join the band.

You toured the world with them didn't you?
Oh yeah.  I think I did 3 world tours with them.

That was a cool mix of your background and Fleetwood Mac’s early blues roots.
Fleetwood Mac had cut “Honey Hush” .  The original was a slow blues version.  My dad and uncle took it and made the “claw lick” as they called it.

Fast forward a few years and you find yourself touring with Bob Dylan.  How did this come about?
I had met Bob years ago in the 70’s.  I walked into this club with Roger McGuinn and T-Bone Burnette.  T-Bone and I were friends.  We had played around some clubs together in LA.  He introduced me to Bob.  He said “man, I love your dad’s song ‘Tall Oak Tree’.”  You realize that’s the first Ecology song.  I had never thought it like that nor had my dad.  My dad was still alive and I called him and told him.  He was really thrilled about that.  Years later I ran into Bob at Barbara Orbison’s house.  Barbara was publisher for a long time.  I got a call to come out to New York and try out for the band.  I tried out and got the gig.  I went to Australia and New Zealand with them.

with John Fogerty
Then you hit the road for a few years with John Fogerty.
Right after that, Bob Dylan’s manager Jeff Kramer was managing John Fogerty.  He said “I got something that might be interesting for you.”  It had been years since I had been a sideman.  I was doing records myself and doing pretty good as a writer.  I had my songs cut by Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Roy Orbison…a lot of my heroes.  To play with Bob Dylan was just really something and then to join Fogerty…I mean when I was younger I played those songs in my high school band.  I’ve really been blessed in my whole career to play with these people.

John Fogerty seems to never lose energy!
Yeah, it’s amazing really!

Do you miss him saying “on the chugga chugga guitar…Mr. Billy Burnette”?
Oh yeah! (laughs)

You did a fantastic album in 2006 called Memphis In Manhattan.  This was done live wasn’t it?
Totally live.  No overdubs at all.  I don’t know if I want to do that one again (laughs).  You can’t fix stuff.  I mean there’s a certain energy you get with it.  It’s live!

That had a great cover of Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken”.
Oh yeah.  I always loved that song.

The next year you put out a record with Shawn Camp called The Bluegrass Elvises.  Where did this concept come from?
Shawn and I were over at Cowboy Jack Clements studio.  We just kind of put it together and did it.  That was pretty much a live record.  We did 2-3 tracks to try it out.  Then we went for it and did the rest of the album in one day.  We did it at John Prine’s studio.  I didn’t know much about that world.  Shawn and I had a song at the time cut by the Del McCoury Band.  Shawn is one of the best in that field.  It was something.  I had to play really fast!  It was a lot of fun.  A lot of people really liked that record.

Your new album, Rock N' Roll With It, is totally independent.
First time I’ve ever produced a record myself.  I had a hand in production before.  We all kind of produced Fleetwood Mac.  I was always in there and had creative control but had a producer of course.  With this one I wanted to do the whole thing myself and put it out.  We spent a day cutting the tracks.  Kenny Vaughan, Dave Roe, Chad Cromwell. ..we’ve done a lot of sessions together. 

There’s also a Christmas version of the title track called “Rock And Roll In Christmas”.
I just did that.  I didn’t have time to write a new Christmas song.  I had the track sitting there and started messing around with it and said “hey this kinda works” so I put that together.


“My Love Will Not Change” really is a great rhythm song that has to be fun to play live.
That’s the song Del McCoury had a hit with.  The video was a big hit.  They showed the video all the time on CMT.  Hal Ketchum had cut the song too.  The song had been floating around for a while.  One of my favorites!  It’s one of those songs you can do live and has a certain energy.  It’s like “Tear It Up”.  It has the same kind of energy.

One of my favorites is “Wrong One Right”.
Yeah, that’s Shawn Camp and myself.  Some of these songs I had already written and wanted to do on a record before.  “Wrong One Right” is kind of funky.  It’s kind of a true story.

Yeah, we’ve all been in that situation most likely.
Yeah (laughs)

Do I hear a Roy Orbison influence on “Only The River Knows”?
That’s definitely inspired by Roy Orbison and that type of a vibe.

Who came up with vocal harmonies on that one?
Bekka Bramlett  helped me do the backgrounds on that.  Bekka is one of the greatest singers on the planet.  She helped me arrange those background vocals.  She’s really something.  The part she came up with was really great.

Was the Bo Diddley beat you have going in “Karaoke Queen” intentional?
I tried to cover all the grooves from those days.  I’m not cutting down any of the music today.  I think there’s some great artists and music today.  I just wanted to do a retro kind of album and take it back a bit yet do it with a modern sound.  Westwood Studios is a great room.  Micky Cones is a great engineer.  We had a great sound.  Dave Roe is a great stand up bass player.  He’s just a great bass player period.   Kenny Vaughan is one of my favorite guitar players.  Chad Cromwell is one my favorite drummers.
Junior Johnson

“Hot Rod Hillbilly” is a great title and a whole lot of fun.  What is this one about?
Shawn Camp and myself wrote that.  We’ve written a couple of songs for this movie about the Junior Johnson story.  He was one of the first Nascar drivers. 

Tell me about “Rollercoaster Ride”.
My son, Billy Jr., gave me the idea for that and we wrote that together.  He has a band himself and gave me the concept.  It was great at the time.  I had open heart surgery a couple of years ago.  My whole life has been a roller coaster ride (laughs).

Before you go, I wanted to ask about a Rockabilly CafĂ© you’re planning.  When will we see this come about?
We’re still working on that.  In fact I’ve got a meeting here this week.  We’re pursuing that.  That’s been a dream of mine forever to have a club called Rockabilly’s.  It’s going to be really 50’s.  I have a certain design I want with that.  We have a good team put together.  We’re working on that.  It will be coming sometime next year I hope.

EPK for Rock N' Roll With It

"Tear It Up"

"Don't Say No"

"Oh Well" with Fleetwood Mac

"Lookin' Out My Back Door" with John Fogerty