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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Byrd Burton 1946-2008

Mike lost an old friend last week. Barry “Byrd” Burton died March 10 after a lengthy battle with leukenia.
Byrd may be best known as a founding member of The Amazing Rhythm Aces, but Mike remembers the long-haired, lanky, 6’5” guitar picker who came from East Tennessee to be a session player at Phillips Recording, formerly Sun Records. His playing style was so impressive that he became one of the only session players to whom Sam Phillips offered a contract.

That was in the early 70s, not long before Mike joined Tony Joe White. Mike was doing a lot of studio work for Phillips, and he and Byrd started hanging out. Mike introduced him to some folks around town and brought him into the Charlie C. Freeman band that Mike was with at the time. Byrd also produced some songs Mike was writing then.

While Byrd was working at Phillips, some other East TN guys came to the studio for Byrd to produce them. They would be the core of The Amazing Rhythm Aces. They convinced Byrd to join them and they added a couple of Memphis players.
Two of their biggest hits were “Third Rate Romance” and “The End is Not in Sight.” They earned Grammys for both songs and Byrd received one as producer.

Tired of touring, Byrd left the band after its third album and moved to Nashville where Mike once visited him. In Nashville Byrd became a top session player and producer.

He has been on many recordings including a number of Don Williams' classics such as "Living on Tulsa Time.” He worked in the studio and live with Nancy Griffith, Judy Rodman (wife of our old friend John), Dan Fogelberg, Dolly Parton and Brooks & Dunn. Byrd was part of many albums including Emmylou Harris' Cimarron and The Oak Ridge Boys' Fancy Free.

The following is from one of Byrd's obituaries:
"In the studio, he was so easy to get along with," said Bob Babbitt, the famed Motown bass player who began working with Mr. Burton after Babbitt moved to Nashville. "He came in knowing the song, and he was great at writing out the charts. He took care of business. And then he sat down and played his butt off."
A benefit concert to help pay for Byrd’s medical expenses had been planned for yesterday. It will go on as a memorial to the man and his music. See his website for details:


Anonymous said...

Fly high...Fly high
The benefit concert to help pay medical expenses will now be a memorial concert. Scheduled for April 18 in Greenville, TN. Details on website

Judy Rodman said...

John and I miss Byrd very much. In Memphis, Nashville and on the road, we have so many great memories with him. Glad to see your sweet post, and that you knew he was our precious friend as well.

Scarlett said...

Thank you for the update on memorial concert. I'll go back and add it to the main post.
Judy, thanks for your note. Give best to John from Mike & Diane.