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Dorsey Burnette - Castle In the Sky & Two Others

8 February 2012

Dorsey Burnette (December 28, 1932, Memphis, Tennessee - August 19, 1979, Canoga Park, California) was an early Rockabilly singer. With his younger brother, Johnny Burnette, and a friend named Paul Burlison, he was a founder member of The Rock and Roll Trio.
Dorsey Burnett was born on December 28, 1932 to Willie May and Dorsey Burnett Sr. in Memphis, Tennessee. The 'e' at the end of his surname was added later. His younger brother, John Joseph "Johnny" Burnett, was born on March 25, 1934. The family lived in a public housing project in the Lauderdale Courts area of Memphis, Tennessee.
Dorsey was a competent athlete with an interest in boxing. Both of the Burnette Brothers turned out to be successful amateur boxers, becoming local Golden Gloves champions. In 1949, Dorsey was introduced to another young boxing contender named Paul Burlison by his boxing teacher, Jimmy Denson and they were to become firm friends. Later, Burlison was introduced to Johnny Burnette and they also become firm friends. All three men had a mutual interest in music to which they had had an early introduction to music. Burlison had begun to receive guitar lessons when he was eight years old. In 1939, Dorsey Sr. gave his two sons a pair of Gene Autry guitars. According to most sources, each brothers immediately broke them over the other's head. Dorsey Sr. doggedly bought them two more guitars. Dorsey later recalled that their father had said, "Learn to play those guitars. You can be like those folks on the Grand Ole Opry if you want to ……." Dorsey said that "he learned the G, C and E chords and when the strings broke, he would use bailing wire".
After graduating from a Catholic high school in Memphis, Dorsey tried his hand as a professional boxer becoming a Southern pro champ before working at a number of daytime jobs, which included a cotton picker, an oiler on a Mississippi riverboat, a fisherman, a carpet-layer. He was finally to work at the Crown Electric Company with Paul Burlison as an apprentice electrician and would spend six years studying for an electrician's license. Johnny Burnette also worked as a deck hand on barges, which traversed the Mississippi River and though they worked separately, each of them would bring his guitar on board and write songs during his spare time. After work, they would perform those and other songs together at local bars with a varying array of sidemen. Paul Burlison joined them after his discharge from the US Armed Forces and in 1952 or 1953 they formed a group, which may have been called The Rhythm Rangers at the time. Johnny Burnette sang the vocals and played acoustic guitar, Dorsey played bass and Paul Burlison played lead guitar.
On August 14, 1964, his brother Johnny had gone out on a fishing trip on Clear Lake, California. After dark, his tiny unlit fishing boat was struck by an unaware cabin cruiser and the impact threw him into the lake where he drowned. Dorsey was distraught and he telephoned Paul Burlison, who immediately flew out to comfort him. The two men renewed their friendship and Johnny Burnette was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. His last two Mel-O-Dy singles, "Jimmy Bowen"/"Everybody’s Angel" (Mel-O-Dy 116) released October 1964 and "Long Long Time Ago"/"Ever Since The World Began" (Mel-O-Dy 118) released in November 1964 failed to make the charts. The label was discontinued in April 1965 and from then on Dorsey recorded without luck on a series of labels such as Liberty, Merri, Happy Tiger, Music Factory, Smash (where he re-recorded "Tall Oak Tree"), Mercury, Hickory and Condor, which released "The Magnificent Sanctuary Band"/"Can't You See It Happening" (Condor FF-1005) on February 7, 1970
In 1979, he signed with Elektra/Asylum label. Just after his first record release, however, he died of a massive coronary at his home in Canoga Park, California on August 19, 1979, aged 46. He was interred near his brother Johnny in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Dorsey last appeared in public on August 18, 1979 at The Performing Arts Center in Oxnard, California. He played a half hour show at a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation the day before he died.
Patrick Landreville who played the final show with Dorsey stated
Most people that play benefits for national or international charities get paid for their performances, at the least their expenses are paid. But Dorsey and I choose to play for free at these affairs, though neither one of us is well off financially. Dorsey is a legendary figure in music and could command a hefty sum for his services but he's chosen to give, not to take. I'm proud to know him and to have had the opportunity to make music with him and I'm especially proud that he considers me his peer.
After his death, singer and friend Delaney Bramlett organized a benefit concert for Dorsey’s widow at the Forum in Inglewood, California, in which Kris Kristofferson, Hoyt Axton. Tanya Tucker, Glen Campbell, Edward James Olmos, Duane Eddy, Delaney and Bonnie, Gary Busey, Maureen McGovern and Roger Miller appeared. Dorsey Burnette's pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Dorsey was always overshadowed by his brother Johnny Who Was The Better singer of the two but but Was Still A great singer and song writer and is still a great legend in his own right
Dorsey your music was MAGIC. here we give you three tracksstarting with "Castle in The Sky"
Here are two of of Dorsey's recordings. But they seem to have been forgotten by the rest of the world. They came out in 1960 never charted and wasn't deemed good enough to ever be on an LP or CD. "The River And The Mountain" followed by "This Hotel". Enjoy

Dorsey Burnette
Birth nameDorsey Burnett
BornDecember 28, 1932
OriginMemphis, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedAugust 19, 1979 (aged 46)
Associated actsThe Rock and Roll Trio

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