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T-Bone Burnett Biography


Home > Music > B > Burnett, T-Bone > Biography


Birth Name: Joseph Henry Burnett
Born: 1948/01/14
Birth Place: Born St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., Raised Fort Worth, Texas U.S.
Years Active: 1972–present
Genres: Rock & Roll, Alternative Country, Country


T Bone Burnett (born Joseph Henry Burnett, January 14, 1948) is an American musician, songwriter, and soundtrack and record producer. Burnett was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1948, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. His first significant contribution to the music field was as the manic drummer for the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's novelty 1968 hit, “Paralyzed.”

Burnett first appeared on “The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc.” as part of the pseudonymous Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit and Greenhill, released in 1968 on Uni Records and on which he also produced and wrote four of the 11 tracks. Also, in 1968, he produced six songs for a group of friends, called at the time, “The Case Hardy Boys." Later this band would move to Los Angeles and become known first as “The Fare” and later as “El Roacho.” In 1972, Burnett moved to Los Angeles and recorded his second album, “The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks.” In 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue.

When the Revue ended, Burnett and two other members of Dylan's band, David Mansfield and Steven Soles, formed The Alpha Band, which released three albums. “The Alpha Band” and “Spark in the Dark” were both released in 1977, while “The Statue Makers of Hollywood” was released in 1978.

In 1980, Burnett released his first post-The Alpha Band solo album, “Truth Decay,” produced by Reggie Fisher, on the Takoma Records label. In 1982, his “Trap Door” EP, (also produced by Fisher) and released on the Warner Brothers label, yielded the radio hit “I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance.” His 1983 album “Proof Through the Night,” whose song "When the Night Falls" got some radio airplay, and his 1987 album “The Talking Animals” were more in the vein of 1980s new wave music, while his self-titled 1986 album was an album of acoustic country music.

In 1985, Burnett collaborated with Elvis Costello on a single titled “The People's Limousine,” using the moniker “The Coward Brothers.” In 1987, he produced Roy Orbison's double album, “In Dreams: The Greatest Hits” and two songs of Orbison’s 1989 album, “Mystery Girl.”

Other work as a producer includes collaborations with the likes of Lisa Marie Presley, John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Counting Crows, Elton John & Leon Russell, Elvis Costello and his wife Diana Krall, Natalie Merchant, The Wallflowers, Tony Bennett k.d. lang, Counting Crows, Los Lobos, Spinal Tap, Gillian Welch, Sam Philips, B.B. King.

In 1993, Burnett was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album for his solo LP, “The Criminal Under My Own Hat.” In 2002, Burnett won four Grammys for his work on the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” in the categories of Album of the Year, Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. He was also awarded the Grammy as Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, for his work on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, the “Down from the Mountain” soundtrack, and the album “Fan Dance” by his wife, Sam Phillips.

In 2003, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his work on the Tony Bennett and k.d. lang LP, “A Wonderful World.” In 2006, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, for his work on “Walk the Line.” In 2009, Burnett was awarded Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Folk Album for his work on the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album, “Raising Sand,” Record of the Year for his work on “Please Read the Letter,” also from “Raising Sand” and Best Traditional Blues Album for his work on B.B. King's “One Kind Favor.”

In 2004, Burnett was nominated for an Academy Award, along with Elvis Costello in the category of Best Original Song for “Scarlet Tide” from the film, “Cold Mountain.” In 2010, Burnett and Ryan Bingham won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart.”

In 2011, Burnett was awarded Grammys in the categories of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, for his work on “Crazy Heart,” and Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, along with Stephen Bruton, for “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart).”

In 2012, Burnett was nominated twice in the Grammy category of Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media with Win Butler & Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire for the song “Abraham's Daughter,” and with Taylor Swift, John-Paul White and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) for “Safe and Sound,” both from “The Hunger Games.”