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Paul Burlison

Paul Burlison (February 4, 1929 – September 27, 2003) was an American pioneer rockabilly guitarist and a founding member of The Rock and Roll Trio. Burlison was born in Brownsville, Tennessee, where he was exposed to music at an early age. After a stint in the United States Military, Burlison teamed up with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette to form The Rock and Roll Trio. The band released several singles, but failed to attain chart success. Paul is sometimes credited with being the first guitarist to intentionally record with a distorted electric guitar on the 1956 recordings, "Lonesome Train on a Lonesome Track" and "Honey Hush." The Trio disbanded in the fall of 1957 and Burlison moved back to Tennessee to start a family. There he started his own electrical subcontracting business which he ran faithfully for twenty years, taking a break when the Trio reunited in the early 1980s. He released his only solo album in 1997, which received positive reviews. Burlison remained active in the music scene until his death in 2003.

Burlison and his family lived in Brownsville until 1937. During the floods of that year, miserable economic conditions prompted the Burlison family to move to Memphis, Tennessee. In 1938, his brother-in-law, Earl Brooks began to teach him to play the guitar. As well as learning Brooks' Country influenced techniques, he also drew inspiration from watching Jesse Lee and Juanita Denson perform. Later, he would frequent the Blues joints along Beale Street. While he was still in high school, he would travel to the outskirts of West Memphis, Arkansas, to watch Chester Burnett ("Howlin' Wolf") play.

Burlison also developed an interest in boxing and began training at the Dave Wells Community Center under the instruction of trainer, Jim Denson. He was to win the local welterweight championship, and was runner-up in the All-Navy Tournament 1947-48. Whilst competing in the 1949 Golden Gloves tournament, Denson introduced him to another young boxer, Dorsey Burnette.

Dorsey Burnette would become a Golden Gloves welterweight champion. He had a younger brother, Johnny Burnette, who was a Golden Gloves lightweight champion fighter. Both brothers had a deep interest in music and it was through their mutual interest in both music and boxing that the three were to become close friends.

Toward the end of the World War II, Paul Burlison was enlisted in the United States Navy (1946). He was only 17 years of age at the time and received an honorable discharge in 1949.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 4, 1929, Died September 27, 2003

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1956 - 1957

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 89908 5/7/1956 Shattered dreams-1 Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 89909 5/7/1956 Midnight train Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 89910 5/7/1956 You're undecided-2 Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 89911 5/7/1956 Tear it up Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 89922 5/7/1956 Oh baby babe Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9426 7/2/1956 The train kept a-rollin' Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9427 7/2/1956 Blues stay away from me-1 Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9428 7/2/1956 All by myself Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9429 7/2/1956 Drinking wine spo-dee-o-dee Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9430 7/3/1956 Chains of love Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9431 7/3/1956 Honey hush Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9432 7/3/1956 Lonesome tears in my eyes Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9433 7/3/1956 I just found out Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9434 7/4/1956 Please don't leave me Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9435 7/4/1956 Rock therapy Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9436 7/4/1956 Rockbilly boogie Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9437 7/5/1956 Lonesome train (On a lonesome track) Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9438 7/5/1956 Sweet love on my mind Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9439 7/5/1956 My love, you're a stranger Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9440 7/5/1956 I love you so Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9441 7/5/1956 Your baby blue eyes Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9729 3/22/1957 Touch me Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9730 3/22/1957 If you want it enough Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9731 3/22/1957 Butterfingers Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 9732 3/22/1957 Eager beaver baby Johnny Burnette Trio instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Burlison, Paul," accessed February 21, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/306260.

Burlison, Paul. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/306260.

"Burlison, Paul." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 21 February 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/306260

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