Billy Burnette: Memphis Maestro to Fleetwood Fame


Billy Burnette: Roots in Memphis

Billy Burnette’s musical journey is a tapestry woven with threads of talent, legacy, and a deep connection to the roots of American music. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Billy was destined for a life immersed in the world of sound. His family background played a pivotal role in shaping his musical identity, being the son of Dorsey Burnette and the nephew of Johnny Burnette, both influential figures in the early days of rockabilly.

Billy Burnette spent most of his youth in the presence of father Dorsey and uncle Johnny (of the legendary Rock and Roll Trio).  The Trio made the Rockabilly name famous by combining the name Billy and his cousin Rocky for the 1953 “Rockabilly Boogie” – thus making the term Rockabilly a household name. The legendary trio influenced a diverse array of Rock icons including: the Elvis, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, and Ricky Nelson. Elvis used to spend many evenings jamming with the band. It’s not surprising given his upbringing that Billy’s list of accomplishments in the music arena is both impressive and diverse.  Billy has been making music since age 7.

Billy’s early exposure to the vibrant Memphis music scene left an indelible mark on his musical sensibilities. As a multi-instrumentalist, he quickly demonstrated his prowess on the guitar, keyboards, and vocals. His innate ability to navigate through various genres, including rock, country, and blues, set the stage for a career that would span decades and captivate audiences across the globe.

Instrumental Virtuosity:

When he was 15 Billy picked up a guitar and began writing songs.  At 18, he was only a week out of high school when he recorded an album with famed Memphis hit-making producer Chips Moman (“Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto” for Elvis as well as multiple hits for the likes of Aretha Franklin and BJ Thomas). In his early 20’s, Billy wrote songs for such hit makers as Rod Stewart, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, and many more.

Joining Mick Fleetwood in the Zoo:

In 1980, Billy met Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac).  The two musicians became fast friends and formed the band Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo in 1983. Soon after Billy began his journey as a member of one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  Burnette toured with Fleetwood Mac between 1987-1995 and appears on many of their albums

Fleetwood Mac Era:

During that time, Billy’s journey took an exciting turn when he joined the legendary Fleetwood Mac. His contributions during this period added a distinctive layer to the band’s evolving sound, marking a transformative phase in their musical trajectory. Billy’s collaboration with Fleetwood Mac showcased his adaptability and creativity, earning him recognition for his role in shaping the band’s sonic landscape.

Songwriting Maestro:

Embracing the solo spotlight, Burnette embarked on a solo career that showcased his songwriting finesse and vocal prowess. Albums like “Gimme You” and “Billy Burnette” created a signature sound that resonated with a diverse audience.During this period too, Billy co-wrote a tune for Bonnie Raitt and Ray Charles called “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.” The tune appeared on the album Genius Loves Company, which was the last studio album recorded and completed by Ray Charles. Genius Loves Company garnered 10 grammy nominations and won Album of the Year.

Continued Evolution:

As a live performer, Billy Burnette’s stage presence is electrifying. His concerts are a journey through the decades, featuring a repertoire that spans his entire career. Billy Burnette’s journey continues to unfold, leaving an open-ended legacy. As fans eagerly anticipate the next chapters of his musical odyssey, one thing is certain – Billy Burnette’s contribution to the world of music is a story that resonates with the soul of American sound. I hope you enjoy his story.

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