Six-string brothers: Louisiana guitar slinger James Burton champions the timeless allure of Rick Nelson

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A 24-year-old Rick Nelson has all the girls swooning on the single 45 cover of “Mean Old World” b/w “When the Chips Are Down,” which criminally stalled at No. 96 Pop when dropped during the onslaught of the British Invasion in March 1965. Image Credit: 45Cat user Okun69 / Universal Music Group
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Circa August 28, 2014, James Burton and a pink paisley Telecaster are old comrades in arms somewhere in Shreveport, Louisiana. Image Credit: James Burton’s official website

The Complete James Burton — Rick Nelson Interview

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Keyboardist Gene Garf, bassist James Kirkland, singer-songwriter-guitarist Bob Luman, drummer Butch White, and lead guitarist James Burton are captured backstage at the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas circa 1957. Image Credit: The Melissa Luman Phillips Collection
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The single 45 cover of “Stood Up” b/w “Waitin’ in School,” released by Rick Nelson in December 1957 on Imperial Records. The double-sided hit reached No. 2 and No. 18 Pop, respectively. This is the debut single featuring James Burton. Image Credit: Joel Whitburn’s Record Research / Universal Music Group
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A brooding Elvis Presley is captured at the tender age of 23 in short sleeves during a Paramount photo session for perhaps his best film, “King Creole,” in early March 1958. Thus far no image of Rick Nelson and the King of Rock ’n’ Roll has surfaced. Image Credit: Elvis Photo Shoot Sessions / Paramount Pictures
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Telecaster maestro James Burton, Rick Nelson, drummer Richie Frost, and bassist James Kirkland are captured backstage before a 1958 concert. Nelson was at the height of his powers with such legendary singles as “Poor Little Fool” and “Lonesome Town.” Image Credit: James Burton’s official website
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“I Got a Feeling” teen idol Rick Nelson is captured with early band members James Kirkland (bass) and James Burton (lead guitar) circa 1958. Image Credit: James Burton’s official website
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Ozzie, Harriet, David, and an acne-ridden, 12-year-old Rick Nelson are captured midway through the debut television season of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” in January 1953. Image Credit: Color transparency by Earl Theisen for Look Magazine / Shorpy
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Fresh faced rockers James Burton, Rick Nelson, and bassist James Kirkland admire a cool Rickenbacker acoustic guitar in Hollywood. Nelson endorsed the rare model manufactured in April 1958. Image Credit: Premier Guitar Magazine
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With his trusty D-28 Martin acoustic guitar, a cropped photo used on the single 45 cover of Rick Nelson’s “Take a City Bride” b/w “I’m Called Lonely” in April 1967, which charted at No. 58 C&W. The shot had originally appeared unaltered as the cover of the critically acclaimed “Bright Lights & Country Music” album, released on May 30, 1966, via Decca Records. Image Credit: Joel Whitburn’s Record Research / Universal Music Group
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“Fire Breathin’ Dragon,” b/w “Your Kind of Lovin,” unleashed by Rick Nelson in January 1966 on Decca Records. The briskly paced cuts appeared at a time when the “Rio Bravo” costar was anathema to the record-buying public and failed to even chart. Image Credit: 45cat user JLogue / Universal Music Group
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Presenting the Shindogs! Clockwise from far left are drummer Chuck Blackwell, singer-rhythm guitarist Joey Cooper, singer-bassist Delaney Bramlett, pianist Glen D. Hardin, and James Burton from the November 1965 issue of “Teen Life” magazine. In 1970 Hardin joined the Telecaster maestro in Elvis Presley’s well-rehearsed TCB Band. Image Credit: The Hideki Watanabe Collection
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The single 45 cover of “You Just Can’t Quit,” a country-tinged ballad written and recorded by Rick Nelson on February 24, 1966. Bottoming out at No. 108 POP, James Burton, Glen Campbell, and future Byrd Clarence White all play on the life-affirming song. Image Credit: 45Cat / Universal Music Group
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On October 21, 1983, James Burton sits comfortably on a backstage couch at the Forum alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, instrumental guitarist Duane Eddy, and an unidentified fan. Lewis was in Los Angeles to do a show with Burton included among the backing musicians. Image Credit: Jerry Lee Lewis’s official website
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Compatriots Rick Nelson, holding his trusty Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, bassist Joe Osborn, and James Burton conduct an informal living room practice session circa 1961. Osborn replaced original Nelson bassist James Kirkland in August 1960. Burton and Osborn later became members of the oft-imitated Wrecking Crew session cats in Los Angeles. Image Credit: The Ken Ross Collection / Courtesy of Joe Osborn
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Backstage at General Service Studios on the television set of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” perhaps the most widely disseminated image of Rick Nelson and James Burton trading guitar licks during the height of the singer’s fame in 1958. Nelson is holding his favored guitar during the ’50s, a Gibson J-200, Super Jumbo acoustic. Image Credit: James Burton’s official website
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In a rare color candid, James Burton, Rick Nelson, and bassist James Kirkland reach for the stratosphere during a euphoric moment somewhere onstage in September 1959. Image Credit: The Telecaster Discussion Page Reissue [TDPRI.com]
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Stand-up bassist James Kirkland, Rick Nelson, and James Burton climb their way to the toppermost of the poppermost in this vintage 1958 still. Image Credit: James Burton’s official website
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Bearded journalist Jeremy Roberts joins James Burton on Friday, August 13, 2010, inside Club 152 on Beale Street in Memphis for an exclusive D&N’s Elvis Presley Fan Club sponsored meet and greet and accompanying show. The unassuming Christian signs autographs with a trademark inscription reading, “God bless, James Burton.” Photography by Keith Alverson
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On September 7, 2011, long lost chums James Burton and Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers attend the Buddy Holly Hollywood Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony in Hollywood, California. Photography by John Rowlands / Gibson Guitar board user JT
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Circa April 17, 2012, a playful music connoisseur imitates the Master of Telecaster’s full-blown statue in front of the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. On August 21, 2005, the occasion of James Burton’s 66th birthday, the statue, generated by fan donations, was officially unveiled to the public. A fellow statue depicting Burton’s best known musical collaborator, Elvis Presley, stands nearby. Photography by Jana Adcock
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On January 4, 2014, a beaming James Burton is captured in concert at the Estrel Hotel in Berlin as he strikes a gravity defying lick on his patented Telecaster. Burton was in Germany with the TCB Band playing a round of dates with Elvis tribute artist Dennis Jale. Photography by Alexander Meier
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White Stripes guitarist and all-around raconteur Jack White meets up with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist James Burton on June 2, 2014, backstage during the singer’s Shreveport Municipal Auditorium gig. White actually covered Elvis Presley’s obscure, sensual rendering of “Power of My Love” from the February 1969 American Sound Studio sessions overseen by producer Chips Moman and the Memphis Boys during his encore. Photography by Taylor M. Burton, daughter of James Burton / Instagram
Listen to Rick Nelson deliver a scorching “Milk Cow Blues,” featuring James Burton’s revved up Telecaster and incidentally first tackled by Elvis Presley some five years earlier. Recorded on October 26, 1960, Nelson’s rockabilly cut was the B-side of gentle ballad “You Are the Only One” and reached No. 79 Pop. Music Credit: Universal Music Group; Video Credit: YouTube user RickysChannel1
Click to experience “Fools Rush In,” a No. 12 Pop, No. 24 R&B hit single on Billboard for Rick Nelson. Recorded on August 15, 1963, pay attention to the mighty Telecaster soloing of James Burton. Music Credit: Universal Music Group; Video Credit: YouTube user NancyFloresSantos
Click to experience Rick Nelson singing live lead vocals to a prerecorded instrumental track of “Your Kind of Lovin’” on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in New York City on January 23, 1966, with lead guitarist James Burton, drummer Richie Frost, and bassist Joe Osborn in tow. Video Credit: SOFA Entertainment
Click to hear “You Just Can’t Quit,” a country-tinged ballad written and recorded by Rick Nelson on February 24, 1966. Bottoming out at No. 108 Pop, James Burton, Glen Campbell, and future string-bending Byrd Clarence White play on the life-affirming song. Music Credit: Universal Music Group; Video Credit: YouTube user Marieren
Click to see a lullaby co-written by Rick Nelson entitled “Promenade in Green.” Featuring James Burton on lead acoustic guitar, the composition was recorded on September 23, 1967, for the under-performing “Another Side of Rick” album overseen by producer John Boylan, future manager of Linda Ronstadt. Within two years Nelson would be back on the right track with the Stone Canyon Band. Music Credit: Universal Music Group; Video Credit: YouTube user Marieren

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net