Transcript: Transcript Billy Burnette: Memphis Maestro to Fleetwood Fame

Breath of Fresh Air Seg 1

Welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. Hello, how are you? I hope you’ve been enjoying a terrific week. Are you a new listener or a regular? Either way, I’d love to know how you feel about A Breath of Fresh Air. Please reach out to me anytime with comments, suggestions or requests for guests. You could even give the podcast a review or rating.

Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop ties in so nicely with my guest today because he’s spent several years out front of the group as their vocalist.

Billy Burnette is the epitome of a rock star. He’s been creating music on a professional level for so long that he hardly even remembers recording his first single at the age of seven. He’s the son of rockabilly icon Dorsey Burnette, the nephew of Johnny Burnette, and both these greats named rockabilly after him.

In the 50s, Billy hung out with all the music greats, and he’s written songs for artists like Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and a whole lot more. As you’re about to discover, he’s quite a character with loads of stories to tell. Let’s meet him, shall we? Billy Burnette, welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air.

How are you? I’m fine. Thank you, Sandy. Hey, Billy, there is so much to talk about because you have the most fascinating career.

So is it okay if we take a big walk back and start chatting about where it all began for you? Yes. Excellent. I started out as a small child.

Well, that much we’ve got in common. My dad was Dorsey Burnett. My uncle, Johnny Burnett.

Tell us a little bit about them. They kind of started the whole rockabilly scene in Memphis right around the time I was born. In fact, I was named after the song Rockabilly Boogie.

Me and my cousin’s name is Rocky and my name is Billy, so they called the song Rockabilly Boogie. They wrote about us. So you’re telling me that the whole genre of rockabilly is you and your cousin’s name put together? I think that’s the first time it was in a song and whatever.

Yeah. They started that and they grew up with Elvis Presley. They were hanging out with Elvis back in the day? Oh yeah.

My dad used to run them off from rehearsals. They grew up in the Lauderdale Courts there and that’s where they used to rehearse the Rock and Roll Trio was in the laundry room there and Elvis would come by and hang out. Very cool time to be in music.

You weren’t very far off starting your own music career. You talk about being a small child. Your first single came out when you were just seven years old.

Yeah. It was a thing my dad and Joe Osborne wrote at the time. So I’ve been in it all my life.

Yeah. But were they shaping you to become a singer or you wanted to be? I kind of was a ham as a little kid and there was guitars and people over all the time. So I started performing early.

I think I sat in with the Rock and Roll Trio when I was about three and a half. So you were never the shy kid in the corner? No. And then my next thing was Herb Albert produced me and Leon Russell played the piano on the song called Just Because We’re Kids.

It was a Dr. Seuss song. Just because we’re kids, because we’re kind of small, because we’re closer to the ground and you’re much bigger pound for pound, you got no right, you got no right to buzz and show those little kids around. I was named Young Billy Bo and then I toured with Brenda Lee.

I went to the Far East with her when I was about 13. So I’ve been doing this stuff all my life really. And of course you had the full support of your parents in doing all of this.

They must have thought it was great. Yeah. My dad passed away in 79.

He’d taken me down to meet a guy named Chips Moman and I went back to Memphis with Chips and I was signed to Columbia Records. I think I was about 18 at the time. Tell us who Chips is.

Chips Moman was a very famous record producer, played guitar on some of the Aretha Franklin records, produced Elvis in 69. I think the comeback album, Suspicious Minds and all that stuff. All of these people just saw the potential in you and took you under their wings.

Yeah. I was really blessed to be around some of the people I’ve been around all my life. Did you ever not want to do it? Not really.

That’s all I’ve ever done really. I mean, it’s in my DNA because I thought that everybody was in the record business and everybody would talk about how their records were doing in the morning. I mean, I went to the grammar school in Hollywood.

I thought everybody did this thing, you know. I’m really jealous about that. You kept writing songs, didn’t you, that started getting covered by a whole lot of artists? Yeah, I started writing about that time.

Yeah. I had my songs cut by Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis and Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette. I mean, the list goes on forever.

I’ve been really blessed in my writing career. Somehow triggers your memory. But became of all the time.

Do I ever, ever cross your mind? Wanna know, do our dreams go on endlessly? Or do they just run down somehow? And gradually become a custody? You’re not only a talented singer, you are obviously a very talented songwriter as well. And you had the right connections in the industry to get your stuff out there. I probably didn’t get my first cut until I did my first album.

I’d stayed with Chips for a while, then I moved around. And I was, you know, kind of by myself as an artist, you know. I didn’t know about my dad’s rockabilly stuff really until 1980.

Until after he died that I didn’t get into the rock and roll trio and realize what they had done back then. How come you never knew? He never talked about it much, about the rockabilly stuff. He was always into what was going on there.

I mean, he produced artists like Stevie Wonder. We had like Glen Campbell hanging around the house. My first gig as a musician was with Roger Miller when I was very young.

Wow. So having had them in your life, you weren’t starstruck. I guess it would have just been really natural for you, was it? I really was in awe of them.

I mean, there was a lot of people hanging around after I grew up and realized that I was really blessed. My dad was a great artist himself, great singer. What was your favourite song of his? Oh, God, he had so many.

God, the Tall Oak Tree, when I first met Bob Dylan in Hollywood at a party, he told me that the first Cology song was Tall Oak Tree. And I called my dad the next morning and said, Dad, I met Bob Dylan last night. He’s a big fan of yours.

There was a tall oak tree that loved the babbling brook And the babbling brook loved the mountain high And the mountain high loved the sky above The creator looked down and saw everything was love, love, love Later on, I went to work for Bob Dylan for a little while. So while you were growing up, just before we leave your early years, you said there were people hanging around the house all the time. And you met people like Ricky Nelson and Sam Cooke and Fabian.

Oh, yeah. Rick was a good friend of mine. Yes.

Another awesome musician. Yeah. And the Sam Cooke thing.

I got to sing with Sam one night at Brenda Lee’s birthday party in Hollywood. And I was a kid then. I think the Colonel Tom was there that night, Parker.

My mom and dad knew all these people. Wow. Billy Burnett, you then moved yourself into L.A., didn’t you? You took yourself away from Memphis.

Well, my dad actually moved to L.A. in the late 50s, started his career. And he wrote a lot of the Rick Nelson hits at the time. Believe What You Say and It’s Late, Waiting in School, and a lot of Rick Nelson’s really big hits.

I’ve been waiting in school all day long Waiting on the bell to ring so I can go home Throw my books on the table, pick up the telephone Hello, baby, let’s get some going Heading down to the drugstore to get a soda pop Throw a nickel in the jukebox, then we start to rock My school gal baby gonna tell you some news You shouldn’t look good in them baby doll shoes It’s a one, two, a foot with a shoe A three, four, get out on the floor Five, six, come get your kicks down the corner of Lincoln and 46 Yeah! Okay, so now you’re growing up in L.A., surrounded by musicians of all ilk there. And I read a story about you when you met Jimi Hendrix one night at a show. Yeah, I used to sneak into concerts when I didn’t have tickets.

I went to the forum and went in the backstage door and carried his amp in, little champ amp. And he came back in and plugged in and talked to us. He was a very nice, very sweet guy.

So he snuck you into that gig by telling you to carry the amp in and pretending you were a road crew. Everybody played back then. I went to all the concerts I could, you know.

So you’re a singer, you’re a songwriter, but you also play the guitar, right? Yes. Where’d you learn to do that so well? I learned when I was about 16 or 17. The guitars were all over the house and I wish I’d have picked it up earlier.

If you had wanted to play drums, could you have? Or it was guitar or nothing? There was a guitar, there was a piano in the house. I learned how to play a little piano. And I’ve been fortunate enough to work for seven years with John Fogarty.

I’ve played for a lot of different people. Still I made up my mind to stay Nothing was going to drive me away When I seen something that give me the creep That won’t be how I do big things You started doing a whole bunch of solo records in the 70s and the 80s. How did they go for you? Well, the one I did in 1980 was a Rockabilly record.

I started playing the clubs in L.A. and they thought I was a punk band doing this Rockabilly stuff with punk music. My record actually did very well in New York and L.A. Nowhere else, so the record company said, well, this Rockabilly stuff is not going to happen. And then the Stray Cats came out about six months later with Built for Speed and my dad had two songs on that.

I think this business is all about timing. Your baby blue eyes Got me in a mess Why don’t you do right Quit trying to fight Every time we get distressed You’re too good daddy And the modern man world Ain’t going to treat you right You better do something baby Whether right or wrong Or baby tonight’s the night Your main inspiration for all the Rockabilly music was, of course, your dad. Yes.

And I just kind of started writing more of that kind of stuff, you know, because I like the up-tempo. And I still do. The last band I was in, I guess, would be Fleetwood Mac.

Share with us the story around how you came to be with them. Well, I was at this Dick Clark 25-year anniversary and I met McFleetwood and him and Lindsay actually called me to do Saturday Night Live with them in 85 and started writing with Christine McBee. In fact, I have a song on her new album now that her and I wrote.

I want to talk to you about that. But why did they want you to be part of the band? They already had a band. Well, it was Lindsay and Mick asked me to join the band The Zoo.

At the time, it was called The Cholos. And some time went by and I was doing records myself. And then when in 87, I think Stevie and Lindsay got into it about something and they asked me to join the band.

And I joined from 87 to 99. So was Lindsay still there that whole time or had he gone? I took his place. It was a big, big shoes to fill, you know, because he was the inventor of all that sound and music.

I can’t help about the shape I’m in I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin But don’t ask me what I think of you I might not give the answer that you want me to You’re wrong Billy stayed with Fleetwood Mac for almost a decade, becoming one of the band’s primary songwriters and vocalists. More from him in just a sec.


Breath of Fresh Air Seg 2

This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. Billy Burnett is the epitome of a rock star.

He exudes talent, good looks and that rock star aura. I guess it’s understandable given his journey as a musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He’s hobnobbed it with music’s elite since childhood, but points to joining Mick Fleetwood’s band The Zoo and taking Lindsay Buckingham’s place in Fleetwood Mac as the highlights of his career to date.

What was it like for you to be with them? It was amazing. My life changed overnight. How so? It was a lot of money.

Isn’t the right thing to do How can I ever change the things that I feel If I could, baby, I’d give you my world How can I when you won’t take it from me You can go your own way You can call this another lonely day You can go your own way That was my favorite band. And I’d heard them one day with my dad. I was in Hollywood meeting with Lester Seal, who had signed Stevie and Lindsay, and I heard their music, not knowing who they were.

And I was a big Delaney and Bonnie fan at the time. And I’d worked some with them and Delaney I’d written a lot with and ended up joining Fleetwood Mac. You know, I think our first gig was St. Louis.

We rehearsed a lot to do that. We didn’t know what was going to happen, you know, joining a band that big and replacing one of the main guys in it, you know, the main guy. And it went well.

It went well for almost 10 years. So nobody ever questioned Lindsay’s departure and they all embraced you as the front man. Yeah, I was very lucky at the time that it happened that way.

And I did a duet with Stevie Nicks, a song called Are You Mine? in, I think, 85 or 86. And I was working with Christine. So I was kind of a media kind of part of the family.

Before that, though, was it you that actually was instrumental in putting together the band The Zoo and you called Stevie and Christine? It was a mixed band. That was a mixed band. And we did a couple of records for RCA with The Zoo.

Yes. Right. And you did the song Angel Come Home? Yes.

On that first record? We did a great video with that. And Lindsay was actually singing on that. And you used the others as backup singers? Yeah.

Well, we did one track one night we did in Phoenix with Christine and Lindsay and everybody played on the record. So it sounded like Fleetwood Mac. But we didn’t have much success with them at the time.

It’s like timing. You know, at the time I joined Fleetwood Mac, we did an album called Behind the Mask. And to them it was a flop and only like sold five million, I think.

It was not a very good album for them after selling what they had. The expectation was much higher. It was higher.

And at the time, the grunge music started to go in and they couldn’t even get the big hits that they had previously. So it’s all about timing. Don’t you come too close to me You’re dangerous, don’t you see You can make the darkness mean more Than it ever did, ever did before So don’t look back, don’t you leave me I’m not recognizable when I want you back It’s up against the wall And the hard kisses of the sun When you say I’m your only one I know I’m your lonely one There’s the shadows from the past Don’t you know it’ll never last The face that can’t be matched You’re saying that the music itself, the style changed and that was why they levelled out.

Yeah. I hate the way it changed. They were the best days of music, would you agree? Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

And it was a great band when I joined Fleetwood Mac. It was a great time and it was a great band. Rick Vito and myself joined.

They’ve only had one line-up besides Rick and myself and that was the Mike Campbell, Neil Finn thing and to me it wasn’t as good as a band. It was when I was with them. Of course, everybody was a lot younger when I was with them too.

Cool, that makes a big difference. I heard you guys did a fair bit of partying. Oh God, we partied was our main thing and we did music on the side.

Have you had a chance to have a look at that series that’s called Daisy Jones and the Six? I haven’t, no. It’s a ten-part series loosely based on the story of Fleetwood Mac. Oh, really? Yeah, I think you’ll really enjoy that.

It takes you right back. Somebody told me about that in Hollywood the other day and I haven’t got a chance to see it yet. Yeah, check it out.

It’s really worth watching. Oh, cool. It’s like reliving the 70s.

It’s wonderful. Yeah, it was a great time. When I was with Fleetwood Mac, I mean, we were sold out.

In fact, a lot of people thought that it wasn’t going to fly, you know, before we went out. But I think we broke records and it went amazing all over the world. And we toured a lot then.

I think I did three or four world tours with them and we even continued on a little past when Stevie had quit the band, first time. They’ve had an on-off sort of relationship for so long, haven’t they? Unfortunately, you lost Christine not so long ago. Yes, and Christine was – we had written about five, six years ago and there’s a song that’s on her new album called Giving It Back that her and myself and George Hawkins wrote.

You made me calm After the storm And you gave me strength, darling Made me feel safe and warm So much love And so many lessons learned For all that you gave me, darling You wanted nothing in return That’s why I’m giving it back Giving it back, giving it back to you She was an amazing lady. In fact, each one of those guys were pretty amazing. We instantly became friends.

We used to have a room at my house in LA where she’d stay over all the time and Mick would stay over a lot. It was pretty much a party house then. Nobody did too much sleeping.

No. Well, not in the traditional sense. Most of the 80s, I was up with them.

But we had a lot of fun. Yeah, I bet you did. You’re lucky you survived it, really.

In retrospect, you’d have to look back and go, you know, thank God I’m alive today after doing – Oh, yeah, I have. I’ve had some health issues, but it’s all – I’ve had heart attacks and all that kind of stuff and that’s all behind me now. I think Lindsay actually had a little trouble with this.

He had a bypass heart operation. I did as well. Right.

Because you lived the life of excess then. No, my doctor said it was purely hereditary. My dad died of a heart attack.

Did he? I was just 46. Oh, wow. Of course, in those days, they couldn’t save people like they do today.

Yeah. In fact, the only open-heart surgery only goes back to 69 or something like that was the first one. Now they do them pretty routinely.

Of course. There’s a lot of great hospitals in Nashville, so when I had my heart problems, I was in the right place, you know. All about the timing.

Life is all about timing really, isn’t it? And as you said earlier, and who you know. Yes. Both of those things you need.

When you were with Fleetwood Mac, I believe you did a cover of the song Tear It Up that your dad’s band had done too. And one of our top artists in Jimmy Barnes helped you out. Jimmy Barnes actually sat in with Fleetwood Mac in Sydney and we kept, Stevie and Chris said, let’s keep that song in the set because it went over so well.

And Jimmy sang the hell out of it, you know, when he sat in with us that night. And Jimmy had actually toured with us in the Zoo Band, so we were good friends with him. And Mick and I and myself played on the Working Class album.

A couple of cuts on that. Blue denim in his veins Oh, he’s a working class man He’s a senior type of psycho He’s a legend of his time He’s running like a cyclone Across the wild Midwestern sky Oh, he’s a working class man What do you think it was about them as Fleetwood Mac that really gelled, really resonated with audiences everywhere? It was just really magical. I mean, Stevie and her stuff and Lindsay and this thing, they were a magical band.

I mean, that was my favourite band. So when I got to join the band, I was so honoured and so amazed that that actually happened to me, that I’m joining my favourite band. Yeah, I can imagine.

Forever, you know. Couldn’t have wished for anything better. Yeah, I was blessed beyond belief, you know, at the time.

Does it come down to chemistry between the individual members that’s that special ingredient? We hit it off really well. Mick and I had the band, we had a bunch of members come through the Zoo and we immediately became good friends, you know, almost best friends for a long time. Christine actually wrote most of the songs for Fleetwood Mac, didn’t she? Yes.

A lot of the big hits. I think she had more hits than anybody in the band. So she wrote solo or with the others? She wrote with the others, yeah.

And her solo stuff didn’t take off like Stevie’s did. You know, Stevie’s pretty much, you know, she’s doing now concerts with Billy Joel at football and baseball stadiums. We all know that Stevie Nick’s career has been legendary.

The relationship that she shared with the late Christine McVie has often been described as the reason the band worked so well together. Stevie and Christine went way beyond being mere bandmates. They brought different musical elements to the forefront of the band’s unique sound and there was no hierarchy.

Each member of Fleetwood Mac fulfilled a pivotal role. While Christine was revered for the song Songbird, Stevie Nick’s always labelled Oh Daddy her favourite. It was an homage to Mick Fleetwood.

Oh, Daddy You know you make me cry How can you love me I don’t understand why Oh, Daddy If I can make you see If there’s been a fool around It’s got to be me Yes, it’s got to be me Oh, Daddy You soothe me with your smile You’re letting me know You’re the best thing in my life Oh, Daddy If I can make you see If there’s been a fool around It’s got to be me Yes, it’s got to be me Why are you right when I’m so wrong I’m so weak but you’re so strong You’re so strong Everything you do is just alright And I can’t walk away from you Baby, if I try We’re unlikely to see Fleetwood Mac getting back together again. I don’t think so. I think Mick said it was over this last time at the Grammys and did that tribute for Christine.

Right. So how would they spend their time? I mean, we know what Stevie’s doing, but how would the others then spend their time if they’re not in the biggest band in the world touring all the time? Coming off the road like that and off the highs of having so many hit records, that wouldn’t be real easy. Well, John, the bass player, he had a sailboat and he was always sailing around the world and Stevie had her solo career.

Christine, we were always writing or hanging out or playing music somewhere, you know. And Mick, of course, we had the Zoo Band together. Stevie and Chris, wherever we were, they’d join us and get up and sit in with us.

The Zoo Band was a Hollywood star-studded jam band which often saw artists like Roy Orbison, Bob Seger, Eddie Van Halen and others added to the line-up. It was one of Mick Fleetwood’s side projects and its latest incarnation in 1992 featured singer Becca Bramlett, who’s Bonnie from Bonnie and Delaney’s Daughter, as well as Australia’s own superstar hard rocker, the late Billy Thorpe, on guitar and vocals. Billy wrote most of the songs for the group.

This was their single, Shake in the Cage. Oh! What’s Mick doing now? He lives in Hawaii now, in Maui. So he’s sort of in semi-retirement.

I think I am more than he is. That’s not quite true. Billy has just released another album, which I’ll tell you about next.


Breath of Fresh Air Seg 3

This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. Billy Burnette still makes his living today on the road.

He plays festivals all over the US and Europe, but it’s not rock music he’s playing, it’s rockabilly. I thought the genre was long gone, but he says it’s very much alive and well. There is a lot of bands in Europe.

It’s more popular over there than it is here in the States. I think they’ve just always gone for the original stuff. I mean, it’s like the blues band that Fleetwood Mac had before they came to the States wasn’t as big as a band as Fleetwood Mac with Stevie and Lindsey.

They always maintained their blues roots, didn’t they? Yes, yeah. And I guess your roots were really rockabilly. Yeah, and when I joined the band, we did tear it up as a tribute to my dad and uncle.

We kept tearing it up in the show. In fact, once we did it in Australia, we kept it with us as our encore song every night. That Behind the Mask tour you were talking about, apparently you did something like 102 concerts on that.

Didn’t you get tired? No, not at the time. We had a private chat and travelling was really nice. I love to travel.

Why did the band dissolve after that tour? It was actually the inauguration of Bill Clinton that got the band back together, and I actually put that together. I think Don’t Stop was Al Gore’s wife’s favourite tune when he ran for president. That was his tune, and Al Gore asked me if I’d put together something for the inaugural, and I put it together, and Stevie asked if Lindsay could get back into that spot.

I was kind of doing my solo thing, and it was fine. So you were really responsible for getting the band back together? Yes, actually, yeah. Why did they decide to split up before that? I joined the band, Stevie and Lindsay got into it about something.

They got into an argument about something, and Lindsay was out and I was in. That was that way for about 10 years, and then when they did the inauguration, they came up with the dance. It was their last big hit record that they had.

And Lindsay’s done records, and Stevie’s done records, and Christine did records, but none of them ever did what Fleetwood Mac did. They couldn’t do separately what they could do together. They were magic together, yeah.

A few years later, they did come back, but this time it included Dave Mason from Traffic, and Becca Bramlett, but without Stevie. How did that happen? I did that tour. I had left the band for a minute, but Mick asked me if I’d do that tour with them, and Dave and I were good friends.

And Becca, I’ve known since she was there, three and a half, I knew her mom and dad really well. We started that lineup of Fleetwood Mac. That was in the mid-’90s.

It was a very different Fleetwood Mac then that we saw, because Dave Mason brought a whole lot of his songs. The magic went with the original members a little bit. You know, people, when you go to a concert, they want to hear the hits, and we were able to do that with Rick and I, and when Becca and Dave joined the band, I sang most of the Fleetwood Mac stuff, like Go Your Own Way and Don’t Stop, and Christine didn’t go on the road, but she was in the band.

We did an album, Time, I think it was. My heart is hating on Every word you say Right now our logic’s stripped away It doesn’t analyze Your sincerity It only listens And believes Don’t whisper I love you Unless you know it’s true Be careful what you say It costs you my heart Oh, be careful what you say It costs you my heart Didn’t do very well, because it was like mostly grunge music. Once again, Time.

I mean, I remember when I moved to Memphis, Elvis had just been there, and he wasn’t the artist that he once was, you know. It’s like things change, you know. In 94, though, they did bring Stevie, Lindsay and Christine back for the dance.

I was with the band till 95. We broke up, and Las Vegas was our last gig. Were you upset by that? No, because I was kind of into my solo career anyway.

I was gone as far as I could with Fleetwood Mac, and I think we’d all realized that’s as far as we’re going to go. A lot of people thought I was nuts for leaving the band then, but, you know, you never know what’s down the road. Oh, there’s certainly been a lot more for you down that road, hasn’t there? Because once you left, as you mentioned earlier, you became Bob Dylan’s touring guitarist for a little while in 2003.

Have you got a favourite memory from that tour with him? Oh, I loved Bob. I was a big Bob Dylan fan. It was a lot of fun.

We were in rehearsal. My favourite story about Bob was we’re playing guitars and everything, and he picks up the acoustic guitar and goes, this is my thing. And I go, that is your thing? It was great.

I really, really liked him a lot. Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, Play a song for me I’m not sleepy And there is no place I’m going to Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, Play a song for me In the jingle-jangle morning I’ll come following you Though I know that evening’s empire Has returned into sand Vanished from my hand Left me blindly here to stand But still not sleeping My weariness amazes me I am branded on my feet I have no one to meet And the ancient empty streets Too dead for dreaming Again, you were playing with one of your favourite performers. After that tour, I went with John Fogerty and I was there for about seven years and we had a great band with him.

So you’ve been super fortunate to play with all these people and to maintain a solo career simultaneously. Are you at all sorry that your solo career didn’t exceed your contribution? You know, I’ve been with probably every label in the business and I don’t even know how many records I’ve done as a solo artist. Between John Fogerty, Bob Dylan and Fleetwood Mac, Billy Burnett’s played many of the greatest rock songs ever written with the people that wrote them.

Billy’s had a lifetime breathing rock and roll and his latest offerings, a memoir and an album called Crazy Like Me both reflect that. The book is the history of rockabilly music chock full of stories and the album tells of his journey through the songs that bookmarked his most seminal moments. I’ve toured some on my own and do a little bit but not as much as I did with Fleetwood Mac.

We were sold out every night. At Wembley Stadium when I was with them for like 127,000 people. What did that feel like? It was amazing.

The band made all kind of money. It was a magical part of my life. Do you get nervous before getting out in front of that sort of crowd? No, Fleetwood Mac does.

They would get really nervous, more nervous than I was about getting on stage. The nerves, you know, it’s part of the thing. You’ve got to feel a little bit about it before you get out there.

And then we did festivals in Europe that were like 400,000 people. And have you managed to maintain the partying after the concerts too? No, not like I used to. No, no.

I mean, you know, I think everybody in the band, we kind of like slowed all that down. I mean, we were a party machine at the time. We were all over the place.

You managed at the same time to have families and live with them? Yeah, I’ve got two boys now and have been married twice. My songs still get cut by a lot of people. The one was just cut by Willie Nelson’s.

I actually pitched it to Willie while I was with John Fogarty because Willie was opening for us. It’s called Crazy Like Me. Well, I like you cause you’re hotter than the 4th of July And I like you cause you got that wild look in your eye I like you cause you’re reckless and sweet as a breeze But I love you cause you’re crazy like me I like you cause you like to stay up all night And I like the way you do me when you do me just right You threw a weekend party and it lasted all week And I love you cause you’re crazy like me I love you cause you’re crazy like me I’ve never written a book and I go, I need to write a book about my life and about my dad because stories start to go and as they go, they change all the time.

So I go, I need to write this book. How did your memory hold up? It’s great now. I mean, I’m glad I did the book when I did because I’ve been knocked in the head a couple of times since then, various things have happened, you know? So, and there was a lot of stories that needed to be told about my dad and uncle.

I mean, you know, I don’t know if there had been an Elvis Presley or the kind of music he did if it wasn’t for my dad and uncle for him planting that seed in his head because if you listen to their music, it’s a lot like the early Elvis stuff. A lot of rock bands and a lot of people that I’ve met along the way like Jimmy Page and Fleetwood and they were all cutting my dad’s stuff, you know? You do come from rock royalty, don’t you? Yeah, I’ve had a very blessed life. I just had a song on the Ray Charles album with Bonnie Raitt that won like 10 Grammys or something like that.

So you’re still writing today? Oh yeah, yeah. I had a publishing company with Barbara Orbison, Roy Orbison’s widow, for about 12 years I think it was. I’ve written for Charlie Pryde, like I said, Tammy Wynette.

We had a big record with George Strait, a number one country record. It’s called River of Love. Hey baby, won’t you take a little ride with me Have a look around, see what we can see I got the paddle, I got the boat Come on baby, I know she’ll float We’re gonna roll it on the river of love We’re gonna roll it on the river of love You’ve got to be pretty proud of yourself.

What an awesome track record. The last part of my book, there’s a few pages on there that are just my songs that have been cut by people. And it’s quite a few.

I’ve had songs cut by Ringo Starr and all kind of people. The Beatles did one of my dad’s songs. The BBC tapes they cut.

I lost some tears in my eyes. In fact, I went to see Paul McCartney one night with Matt Fleetwood and Paul got me out to the side and said John and I’s favorite record was the Johnny Burnett and the Rock and Roll Trio record. They were big fans of the band.

Oh baby, baby, baby, blues or sorrow I’m gonna love you tomorrow Just suit you just fine Oh baby, baby, baby, blues or sorrow I’ll love you tomorrow Just suit you just fine I can’t forget that you told me So many promising lies I’m not trying to forget these Lonesome tears in my eyes They had a song in Pulp Fiction that my dad and uncle wrote. Their stuff is still really popular today. Which song would you like us to go out on? My Love Will Not Change is close to me that I’ve written.

I’m in Nashville here. The Del Macquarie Band has done it. It’s a pretty popular song.

Billy Burnett, thank you so much for sharing your time and stories with us. Thank you so much for having me. I’ll look after you.

Thank you very much. Bye bye. Well the seasons come and the seasons go And the reason you left is I’ll never know There will be others, yes I know it’s true But they won’t do you like I did for you My love will not change My love will not change For just a rose like the river Could be a good thing My love will not change My love will not change So steady into the morning breeze Interesting guy, isn’t he? Billy Burnett’s musical journey is far from over.

To learn more about him, pick up a copy of his book Crazy Like Me. You can get it through the website Thanks so much for your time today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show.

Don’t forget if you’d like to send in a request for a guest, just send me an email through the website I’ll look forward to being back in your company again same time next week. Have fun meantime, won’t you? Bye now. Cause it’s a beautiful day You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye.

Beautiful day Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away It’s a beautiful day