R. L. Burnside
Not to be confused with R. H. Burnside, stage director.
|R. L. Burnside|
|Birth name||Robert Lee Burnside|
November 23, 1926|
Harmontown, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States
|Origin||Oxford, Mississippi, United States|
|Died||September 1, 2005
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
|Genres||Blues, garage rock|
|Associated acts||Calvin Jackson (drummer)
R. L. Burnside (November 23, 1926 – September 1, 2005) was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who lived much of his life in and around Holly Springs, Mississippi. He played music for much of his life, but did not receive much attention until the early 1990s. In the latter half of the 1990s, Burnside recorded and toured with Jon Spencer, garnering crossover appeal and introducing his music to a new fan base within the punk and garage rock scene.
Life and career
1926–1959: Early years
Burnside was born in 1926 to Earnest Burnside and Josie, in Harmontown, or College Hill, or Blackwater Creek. All of which are in the rural part of Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States, close to the area that would be covered by Sardis lake a few years later. His first name is variously given as R. L., Rl, Robert Lee, Rural, Ruel or Rule. His father left home early on, and he grew up with his mother, grandparents, and several siblings.
Although he tried the harmonica, then dabbled in guitar playing ever since he was 16, Burnside has reported he first played in public at age 21 or 22. He learned mostly from Mississippi Fred McDowell, who lived nearby since Burnside was a child. He first heard his playing at age 7 or 8, and eventually joined his gigs to play a late set. Other local teachers were his uncle-in-law Ranie Burnette, who was a popular player from Senatobia, Son Hibbler, Jesse Vortis, and Burnside's brother-in-law. Burnside cited church singing and fife and drum picnics as elements of his childhood's musical landscape, and Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker as influences in adulthood.
In the late 1940s he moved to Chicago, where his father had lived since he separated from his mother, in the hope of finding better economic opportunities. He did find jobs at metal and glass factories, had the company of Muddy Waters (his cousin-in-law), and enjoyed the modern blues scene at Maxwell Street. But things did not turn out as he had hoped; within the span of one year his father, two brothers, and two uncles were all murdered in the city.[n 1]
Three years after he came, Burnside went back south, and married Alice Mae Taylor in 1949 or 1950, his second marriage.[n 2]. The 1950s were characterised by circles of relocation between Memphis, Tennessee, the Mississippi Delta and the hill country. The time in the Delta allowed him to meet bluesmen Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Aleck "Rice" Miller. It seems it was around that time that Burnside killed a man at a craps game, was convicted of murder and incarcerated in Parchman Farm. He would later relate that his boss at the time had arranged to release him after six months, as he needed Burnside's skills as a tractor driver.[n 3]
1960–1990: Part-time musician
He spent the next 45 years, not unlike his early years, in the Marshall and Tate counties in the north of Mississippi. At first he kept to particularly remote dwellings, working into the 1980s as a sharecropper growing cotton and soybean, and a commercial fisherman on the Tallahatchie River, selling his catch from door to door. Later he moved closer to Holly Springs. Since he came back south he picked more local gigs, playing guitar in juke joints and bars (some under his management), picnics and his own open house parties,[n 4] and an occasional festival. His career boomed in the last twenty years of his life.
His earliest recordings were made in 1967 by George Mitchell, then a graduate student of journalism. He went with his wife to a 13-day summer trip in Mississippi, that resulted in the first recordings of several country blues artists. He came to Burnside's house near Coldwater on the advice of fife player and maker, Othar Turner. Mitchell wrote that Fred McDowell likely had not told him about Burnside, because he posed "big-time competition". Six of the songs, played on an acoustic guitar lent by Mitchell, were released on Arhoolie Records after two years, while nine other are on later products.
Another album of acoustic material was recorded in 1969 for Adelphi Records, not to be released until thirty years later; material from 1975 has had similar fate. These featured Burnside playing acoustic guitar and singing, and a few tracks had harmonica accompanists, namely W.C. Veasey or Ulysse Red Ramsey. Although not recorded, by that time he already played also on electric guitar. In 1969 at Montreal, he played for the first time out of the country, in one program with his models Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. Three tours of his solo performances found enthusiastic audiences in several European countries.
In 1974 Tav Falco visited and videotaped Burnside in the Brotherhood Sportsmen's Lodge, a juke joint he ran at the time near Como.[n 5] His performance featured the slide guitarist Kenny Brown. Brown was Burnside's friend and understudy, whom he began tutoring in 1971 and claimed as his "adopted son." In 1978 Burnside was filmed by Alan Lomax in what remained mostly outtakes of the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television documentary The Land Where the Blues Began.[n 6]
A 1979 a series of recordings by David Evans for his record label, High Water, was the first to feature Burnside's Sound Machine, an accompaniment from family members on drums (Calvin Jackson, son-in-law), bass (Joseph, son) and guitar (Duwayne or Daniel Burnside, sons). The band was active mostly in home settings, but did join Burnside in Europe in 1980 and 1983. They offered a rare fusion of rural and urban blues, funk, RnB and soul,[n 7] that appealed to young Mississippians. While an EP by the title Sound Machine Groove was released by Evans' label in the US, it had next to no distribution. Apart from it, one full album of the same title, a debut of sorts, was licensed for prompt European release by Disques Vogue, and another hour's worth, was only released by Memphis' Inside Sounds in 2001. When he recorded between 1980 and 1986 for the Old Swingmaster label of Netherlands, and for the French label Arion, Burnside went back to play mostly solo, or accompanied by harpists: Johnny Woods served on some occasions, as he also recorded as lead artist with Burnside's guitar accompaniment; Curtis Salgado served once in a New Orleans session. The results were four more LP releases under his name, in European markets.
In the same decade he retired from farm work and became more busy with the music. For 12-odd years He worked with New Orleans-based harpist Jon (Joni) Morris Neremberg (or Nuremberg), and appeared before American crowds in such occasions as the 1982 World's Fair, 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, and 1986 San Francisco Blues Festival, between international tours. By the mid-1980s he toured about "once a year or maybe twice", and by one report of 1985 he had been to Europe 17 times. Recordings from his time with Morris wound up in two releases, both produced by M.C. Records and Louis X. Erlanger: a session from 1988 as Acoustic Stories, and a 2001 compilation of informal recordings provided by Morris, as Well, Well, Well.
1991–2005: Commercial success and physical decline
In the late seventies or early eighties Burnside was introduced and struck a partnership with Junior Kimbrough. Roughly a decade later, his own "Burnside Palace" had shut down[n 8] and the family lived next to the Kimbroughs' new "Junior's Place" in Chulahoma, Mississippi and collaborated with the counterpart musical family. Music writer Robert Palmer, teaching for a time in the University of Mississippi in Oxford, frequented the scene with some celebrity musicians, which led to the making in 1990 of a documentary that featured Burnside prominently, Deep Blues.
Burnside began recording for the Oxford, Mississippi label, Fat Possum Records in 1991. The label, dedicated to recording aging North Mississippi bluesmen such as Burnside and Kimbrough, was founded by two students who have been catching the elders' performances for some years - Living Blues magazine editor Peter Redvers-Lee and a writer there, Matthew Johnson. Burnside remained with Fat Possum from that time until his death. Their first output was Bad Luck City (1992), featuring The Sound Machine. The next, Too Bad Jim (1994), was recorded at Junior's Place, produced by Palmer and had support from Calvin Jackson and Kenny Brown. After Jackson moved to Holland, Burnside found a new stable band and would usually perform with Brown and drummer Cedric Burnside, his grandson.
In a New York concert around the release of Deep Blues, he attracted the attention of Jon Spencer, the leader of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. He started touring with this group in 1995, both as an opening act and sitting in, gaining much new audience. The 1996 album A Ass Pocket of Whiskey was recorded with Jon Spencer' band and was marketed for their audience, but was credited to Burnside. It gained critical acclaim and praise from Bono and Iggy Pop; while Billboard wrote "it sound like no other blues album ever released" and an author there picked it to year's end critics' poll, Living Blues opined it is "perhaps the worst blues album ever made."[n 9]
After parting ways with the Blues Explosion, the label turned to produce music in which recorded materials were remixed by producer Tom Rothrock with an eye to techno, downtempo and hip-hop listeners. The experiment started with a track in Mr. Wizard (1997), an album based on a variety of sessions, and matured into a full album with Come On In (1998). The recording artists themselves heard only the final product, but they conceded that with time they came to like it, in part influenced by its popularity.
Burnside continued to tour, perhaps more extensively than ever. A 1999 date in Paris' "New Morning", with Brown and Cedric, was the occasion for filming a 52 minutes documentary by French blues singer Sophie Kay (Kertesz). He warmed for the Beastie Boys, was musical guest in Late Night with Conan O'Brien and HBO's Reverb, provided entertainment at private events such as Richard Gere's birthday party, and participated in shared or showcase bills with other Fat Possum artists, like T-Model Ford, Paul "Wine" Jones, CeDell Davis, Robert Cage and Robert Belfour. An influx of visitors and young musicians were attracted to Junior's Place, but it burned down in 2000.
In short time, however, Burnside was in declining health. He had an ear infection and underwent a heart surgery in 1999. As his tours decreased to a minimum, Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (2000) was released, which relegated guitar work to other players but used Burnside's vocals. After a heart attack in 2001, his doctor advised him to stop drinking; Burnside did, but he reported that change left him unable to play. Fat Possum rebounded with A Bothered Mind (2004), an album that used previously recorded guitar tracks, and included collaborations with Kid Rock and Lyrics Born.
The three remix albums received mixed reviews, some describing the results as "unnatural" while others lauded the playful spirit, or "the way it yokes authentic blues feeling to new technology". Commercially, the remixes were successful; each surpassed its previous in Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart, as they stayed there for 12–18 weeks' periods (but none entered into the more competitive Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs),[n 10] and two tracks from Come On In were included in The Sopranos ' soundtrack. "Let My Baby Ride" off Come On In received significant airplay and an ensuing music clip was slotted in MTV's 120 Minutes; the album's "Rollin' & Tumblin'" accompanied a 2002 Nissan TV commercial. But it was the live, unremixed album Burnside on Burnside (2001) that peaked at number 4 of Billboard's Blues Albums chart and was nominated for a Grammy. - the last article to catch Burnside as an active bandleader, recorded in January that year with Brown and Cedric.
In between, Fat Possum licensed and released First Recording (2003), comprising George Mitchell's 1967 recordings in its fullest edition yet, in traditional format.[n 11] In addition, the 1990s and 2000s saw release of several recordings from previous decades by other labels (see above), as well as a couple of new recordings by HighTone Records.
Death and legacy
Another heart attack in November 2002 resulted in a surgery in 2003, and sealed any career plans he had, though he continued as guest singer on occasions, such as Bonnaroo Music Festival, 2004, his last public appearance. He died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on September 1, 2005 at the age of 78. Services were held at Rust College in Holly Springs, with burial in the Free Springs Cemetery in Harmontown. Around the time of his death, he resided in Byhalia, Mississippi and his immediate survivors included:
- His wife: Alice Mae Taylor Burnside (1932-2008), married 1949;
- Daughters: Mildred Jean Burnside (1949-2010), Linda Jackson, Brenda Kay Brooks, and Pamela Denise Burnside;
- Sons: Melvin Burnside, R.L. Burnside Jr. (1954-2010), Calvin Burnside, Joseph Burnside, Daniel Burnside, Duwayne Burnside, Dexter Burnside, Garry Burnside, and Rodger Harmon
- Sisters: Lucille Burnside, Verelan Burnside, and Mat Burnside
- Brother: Jesse Monia
- 35 grandchildren
- 32 great-grandchildren
Members of his large extended family continue to play blues in the Holly Springs area or in wider circles. Son Duwayne Burnside has played guitar with the North Mississippi Allstars (Polaris; Hill Country Revue with R. L. Burnside). He has operated a row of music venues named after Burnside and Alice Mae: in Chulahoma and Memphis, Waterford, and Holly Springs. Grandson Cedric Burnside has released six albums with four musical partners, and toured with Kenny Brown and others. Son Garry Burnside used to play bass guitar with Junior Kimbrough, North Mississippi Allstars, and Hill Country Revue; in 2006 he released an album with Cedric. Son in law Calvin Jackson (died 2015) recorded with blues musicians of Burnside's generation and younger. Grandson Kent is a musician, as was Cody (died 2012). Kenny Brown has released four albums and toured with the family and his own band.
Burnside won one W. C. Handy Award in 2000 (Traditional Blues Male Artist of The Year), two in 2002 (Traditional Blues Male Artist of The Year; Traditional Blues Album of The Year: Burnside on Burnside), and one in 2003 (Traditional Blues Male Artist of The Year); he had 11 unsuccessful nominations in 8 years for the awards, starting in 1982, as well as one for a Grammy. Several of the Mississippi Blues Trail markers, which have been erected since 2006, mention him. In 2014 he was induced to the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2009)|
Burnside had a powerful, expressive voice, that did not fail with old age but rather grew richer, and played both electric and acoustic guitar, with and without a slide. His drone-heavy style was more characteristic of North Mississippi hill country blues than Delta blues. Like other country blues musicians, he did not always adhere to strict 12- or 16-bar blues patterns, often adding extra beats to a measure as he saw fit. His rhythms are often based on the fife and drum blues of north Mississippi.[n 12]
As was the case with his role model John Lee Hooker, Burnside's earliest recordings sound quite similar to one another, even repetitive, in vocal and instrumental styling. Many of these songs eschew traditional chord changes in favor of a single chord or a simple bassline pattern that repeats throughout. Burnside played the guitar fingerstyle—without a pick—and often in open-G tuning. His vocal style is characterized by a tendency to "break" briefly into falsetto, usually at the end of long notes.
Like his contemporary T-Model Ford, Burnside favored a stripped-down approach to the blues, marked by a quality of rawness. He and his later managers and reviewers maintained his persona as a hard-working man leading a life of struggle, a heavy drinker, latent criminal singing songs of swagger and rebellion.
Burnside knew many toasts—African American narrative folk poems such as "Signifying monkey" and "Tojo Told Hitler"—and fondly recited them between songs at his concerts and on recordings. He narrated long jokes in concerts and social events, and many sources noted his quick wit and charisma.
- Plays and Sings the Mississippi Delta Blues (released 1981 by Swingmaster) (Live 1980 in the Netherlands)
- Mississippi Hill Country Blues (released 1984 by Swingmaster)
- Bad Luck City (1992)
- Too Bad Jim (1994, produced by Robert Palmer)
- Well, Well, Well (songs and interviews from 1986–1993, released in 2001 on MC Records)
- A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (1996, featuring the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion)
- Mr. Wizard (1997) (recorded 1994-6, including two tracks with Jon Spencer)
- Acoustic Stories (1997, recorded 1988)
- Sound Machine Groove (1997) (recordings from 1979-1980)
- Mississippi Blues (1997) (live recordings from 1983-1984)
- Going Down South (1998) (split album with Johnny Woods and Ranie Burnette, recordings from 1988)
- My Black Name A-Ringin ' (1999) (recordings from 1969)
- Burnside on Burnside (a critically acclaimed 2001 live album recorded in the Crystal Ballroom on Portland, Oregon's Burnside Street)
- Come On In (1998) (remixed material)
- Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down (2000) (remixed material)
- Burnside's Darker Blues (2003) (remixed material)
- No Monkeys on This Train (2003) (compilation of songs from Sound Machine Groove, live material and stories)
- First Recordings (2003; recorded in 1967 by George Mitchell)
- A Bothered Mind (2004) (remixed material)
- Raw Electric (2005) (Posthumous compilation of recordings from 1979-1980)
- The King of Hill Country Blues: Rollin' & Tumblin (2010) (Posthumous compilation of recordings from 1975, 1989 and 1991)
Extended guest appearances
- Duwayne Burnside and the Mississippi Mafia. Live at the Mint (1999)
- North Mississippi Allstars. Hill Country Revue: Live at Bonnaroo (2004)
- Honky Tonk (1974), by Tav Falco
- The Land Where the Blues Began (1979) by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long in Association with Mississippi Authority for Educational Television
- American Patchwork: Songs and Stories of America, part 3: "The Land Where the Blues Began" (1990). North Carolina Public TV: A Michael Dibb Direction production for Channel Four. This is a lightly re-edited version of "The Land Where the Blues Began" (1979)
- The Land Where the Blues Began (2010). Restored original version, DVD contains two additional R.L. Burnside performances.
- Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads (1991). Directed by Robert Mugge
- Un jour avec... R. L. Burnside (1999/2001). By Sophie Kertesz. Produced and distributed by Ciné-Rock, Paris. OCLC 691729826
- You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen (2003; released by Fat Possum Records in 2005). Produced and directed by Mandy Stein. Oxford, Mississippi: Plain Jane Productions, Inc; Fat Possum Records.
- Richard Johnston: Hill Country Troubadour (2005) Directed by Max Shores, Alabama PBS, featuring interview with Burnside and information about the Holly Springs music community.
- Big Bad Love (2001), Directed by Arliss Howard. Soundtrack songs by R.L. Burnside plus a cameo in the film performing live. MGM/IFC Films.
- The real deal: experiencing authenticity in the music of R.L. Burnside. Matthieu Dessier. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Mississippi, 2006. OCLC 82143665
- The Oxford American book of great music writing. Smirnoff, Marc, editor. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas, 2008.
- Burnside would later draw upon in his work, particularly in his interpretation of Skip James's "Hard Time Killing Floor" and the talking blues "R.L.'s Story", the opening and closing tracks of Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (2000).
- His first marriage is apparently reflected in a little story he would tell, in response to questions of the type "What is the blues about?': "It's when you get to your house, late at night, and the first thing you meet out there in the driveway is the cat, sayin'—[in a well imitated cat's voice] 'She-ain't-here, She-ain't-here.'—You got the blues then. Your wife done gone." (Cited from "New York Magazine". 11 September 1995. p. 94. ISSN 00287369.; similar versions on "Have You Ever Been Lonely" from A Ass Pocket of Whiskey (1996) and the opening of You See Me Laughin ')
- About the incident he would recite, "I didn't mean to kill nobody. I just meant to shoot the sonofabitch in the head and two times in the chest. Him dying was between him and the Lord."
- Evans provided a few more details at: Chris Nelson (1997-08-02). "Classic R.L. Burnside 'House Party' Style Recordings Reissued". MTV News. Retrieved 2015-06-17., to which the Mississippi Blues Commission adds at: "Tate County Blues". Mississippi Blues Trail.
- Some of The 26 minutes of footage is included in You See Me Laughin '. Burnside was instrumental in Falco becoming a guitarist, and Tav Falco's Panther Burns were probably the first to cover, and name, a Burnside composition on record: "Snake Drive" on Behind the Magnolia Curtain, 1981.
- Later released on a 2010 DVD, and the Alan Lomax Archive's Youtube channel: playlist
- In Burnside's words, "they can play rock 'n' roll and disco too".
- Like many joints that were abandoned in response to the crack epidemic.
- His work with Jon Spencer was later cited as an influence by Hillstomp and covered on record by The Immortal Lee County Killers.
- From a hip-hop perspective the Fat Possum efforts were among the very first to incorporate the blues, but ultimately did not alter the younger genre's landscape.
- In interviews Watson and Johnson of Fat Possum have indicated that Burnside was the label's best seller and enabled them to finance less commercially-assured projects, and sign new artists.
- Compare Burnside's vocal imitation of fife and drum music: You See Me Laughin ' (see filmography), min. 25:55ff.
- Skelly, Richard. "R.L. Burnside". Allmusic. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
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- David Michael Miller. Birthplaces of Mississippi Blues Artists (Map).
- "Oxford Blues". Mississippi Blues Trail.
- Bob L. Eagle; Eric S. LeBlanc (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. ABC-CLIO. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-313-34424-4.
- [Jeff Hannusch] (August 1985). Connie Atkinson, ed. "A Bluesman Lives the Life [interview]". Wavelength: New Orleans Music Magazine (58) (Nauman S. Scott). pp. 23–24.
- Mabe, Ed (November 1999). "R. L. Burnside: One Badass Bluesman: interview and photos by Ed Mabe". Perfect Sound Forever.
- John Puckett (December 2004). "R.L. Burnside: North Mississippi Blues Legend". Vintage Guitar. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
- Filmed interview. You See Me Laughin ' (see filmography), minutes 25-30.
- David Evans (1978), Afro-American Folk Music from Tate and Panola Counties, Mississippi [booklet] (PDF), Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress, p. 16
- Chris Nelson (2000-12-08). "The Story Behind R.L. Burnside's Sad 'Story'". MTV News. Retrieved 2015-06-22.
- Ray M. Stiles (1998-08-01). "Interview with R.L. Burnside & Kenny Brown". Blues on Stage.
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- McInerney, Jay. "White Man at the Door: One Man's Mission to Record the 'Dirty Blues' - before Everyone Dies." The New Yorker (February 4, 2002): page 55
- "R.L.'s Story", interview clip from Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (2000)
- Gérard Herzhaft (1992). "R. L Burnside". Encyclopedia of the Blues (second ed.). University of Arkansas Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-1-61075-139-1.
- David Evans, notes to High Water 410 EP, 1980 (scan), and to Sound Machine Groove, 1981/1997 (scan).
- "Parchman Farm". Mississippi Blues Trail.
- Grant, Richard (2003-11-16). "Delta Force". Observer Music Monthly. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "Charleston interview" (audio clip, rec. May 1986), in Well, Well, Well (2001)
- Mike Rubin (May 1997). "Call of the Wild". SPIN. pp. 74–82,128–131. ISSN 08863032.
- Stephen McDill (August 16, 2013). "Summer of Blues: Thirteen days in the Hill Country". Mississippi Business Journal. Retrieved 2015-06-13.
- George Mitchell; David Evans. Arhoolie 1042 (1969) liner notes (scans: 1, 2)
- Booklet of The George Mitchell Collection (2007), FP 1114. Quoted in Jeff Harris (2008-03-23). "A Look At The George Mitchell Collection - Part 2". Big Road Blues. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Wolf LP 120.917 leaflet (scan)
- "The King Of Hill Country Blues: Rollin' & Tumblin'". Discogs.com.
- Erik Morse. "Bomb — Artists in Conversation: Tav Falco". Bomb (magazine). Retrieved 2015-06-07.
- "Tav Falco Panther Burns : films and videos". 7 December 2014.
- Richard A. Pleuger (May 2006). "Inside the Invisible Empire: My Travels With Rock ‘N’ Roll Legend Tav Falco And His Unapproachable Panther Burns". Arthur Magazine (21). Retrieved 2015-06-12.
- Wallace Lester. "Record Of The Issue - Tav Falco's "Behind The Magnolia Curtain"". The Local Voice (159) (Oxford, Mississippi). Retrieved 2015-06-12.
- "R.L. Burnside | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
- Michael Koster; Carter Grice (Summer 1999). "Kenny Brown - America's Finest Slide Guitar Player? [interview]". Thirsty Ear Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-09-09.
- Cedric Burnside and Kenny Brown. Interview. Jefferson Blues Magazine, Issue 141, March 2004. Swedish original, via Google Translate
- James Lien (November 1998). "Mississippi Juke Joints". CMJ New Music Monthly.
- "New Blues Label Founded at Memphis State Univ.". Billboard. 6 September 1980. p. 8. ISSN 00062510.
- "Raw Electric: 1979 - 1980". Discogs.com.
- "1986 Archives". San Francisco Blues Festival.
- Vanna Pescatori (1990-11-04). "Cuneo, il sound di Burnside e Morris". La Stampa Cuneo (in Italian). p. 7. Retrieved 2015-06-27.
- Allison Stewart (2002-12-06). "Vintage T-Model Ford is the real deal". Chicago Tribune.
- John Sinclair (1993). "Robert Palmer: Site-Specific Music [interview]". Johnsinclair.us. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
- Andy Gill (24 June 2005). "We've still got the blues". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-01-23.
- Chris Morris (11 June 1994). "Mississippi Labels Tap into Wealth of Delta Blues Talent". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media). pp. 1, 95. ISSN 00062510.
- Michael Dixon (Winter 1997). "Fat Possum: a rocky road for the roots label". Blues Access. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- Robert Palmer. Liner notes to Too Bad Jim, 1994. (scan)
- Chris Morris (22 June 1996). "R.L. Burnside Brews Blues on Matador". Billboard. pp. 10, 95. ISSN 00062510.
- Ratliff, Ben (1997-03-15). "Delta Blues, Including Long Jokes And Lust". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
- "Critics' Poll - Chris Morris". Billboard. 28 December 1996. ISSN 00062510.
- Cited in Dan DeLuca (1996-12-08). "This Is A Blues Band Of Another Color Purist? Not The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Spencer Calls Its Music "white Suburban Punk."". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2015-05-03.
- Mr Wizard, FP 80301-2, on Discogs.com
- OCLC 36765619
- Matt Kelemen (1999-01-06). "Turning the tables on Burnside's deep blues". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved 2015-07-04.
- Lou Friedman (Fall 1999). "Mississippi Remix, or how 73-year old R.L. Burnside found the hip-hop audience". BLUES ACCESS (39). Retrieved 2015-06-16.
- "Burnside To Open For Beasties". MTV News. August 10, 1998. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- Lou Friedman (September 14, 2005). "Well Well Well...: R.L. Burnside 1926-2005". PopMatters. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
- "R.L. Burnside Scheduled For Heart Surgery". MTV News. August 30, 1999. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "R.L.Burnside recovering following heart surgery". CMJ New Music Report. October 4, 1999. p. 8. ISSN 08900795.
- Marian Montgomery (2000-12-20). "R.L. Burnside Not Ready for Heaven Yet". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "A Bothered Mind, FP1013-2". Discogs.com.
- Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down, review by Alex Henderson, allmusic
- A Bothered Mind, review by Steve Leggett, allmusic
- Andy Gill (2004-10-08). "Album: RL Burnside, A Bothered Mind, FAT POSSUM". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
- "R.L. Burnside - Chart history". Billboard.com. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
- Roni Sarig (2007). Third Coast: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing. Da Capo Press. p. 221.
- Sisario, Ben (2005-09-02). "R. L. Burnside, 78, Master of Raw Mississippi Blues, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-16.
- "Music from TV Commercials - Spring 2002". Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- "The complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. 2003-01-08. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
- Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen (1998-06-09). "Fat Possum Raises Hackles With Off-Beat Blues". MTV News. Retrieved 2015-07-16.
- Jason Rewald (2009-06-18). "Hill Country Revue and Blues Evolution". TheDeltaBlues. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
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- "Obituaries". The South Reporter.
- "Obituaries October 8, 2010". djournal, Northeast Mississippi daily journal.
- "Memphis-area obituaries: December 9, 2010". The Commercial Appeal, Memphis.
- Andria Lisle (2004-06-12). "local beat: If the juke joint's a-rockin'". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
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- "Burnside Blues Cafe, Waterford MS | The Frontline". Thefrontlinemusic.wordpress.com. 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
- "Alice Mae’s Cafe | The Frontline". Thefrontlinemusic.com. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
- "2000 - 21st W.C. Handy Blues Awards". PastBlues.
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- Lou Erlanger. Liner notes to Acoustic Stories (1989/1997)
- David Evans (2003). "Fife and drum Band". In John Shepherd; David Horn; Dave Laing; Paul Oliver; Peter Wicke. Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Part 1, Performance and Production. A&C Black. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-1-84714-472-0.
- Arhoolie 1042 (1969) leaflet (scan)
- Ross Haenfler (8 October 2013). "Who are the "authentic" participants and who are the "poseurs"?". Subcultures: The Basics. Routledge. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-1-134-54763-0.
- E.g. on Well, Well, Well (2001) and Burnside on Burnside (2001)
- R. L. Burnside at AllMusic
- Fat Possum artist website
- Slade's R. L. Burnside page
- Illustrated R. L. Burnside discography