T Bone Burnett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from T-Bone Burnett)
Jump to: navigation, search
T Bone Burnett
T Bone Burnett, 2007
Background information
Birth name Joseph Henry Burnett III
Born (1948-01-14) January 14, 1948 (age 69)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Origin Fort Worth, Texas
Genres Americana, roots rock, country
Occupation(s) Record producer, musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1972–present
Labels Universal, Arista, Takoma, Warner Bros., Demon, Columbia, DMZ
Website tboneburnett.com

Joseph Henry "T Bone" Burnett III (born January 14, 1948) is an American record producer, musician, and songwriter. He was a touring guitarist in Bob Dylan's band on the Rolling Thunder Revue. After the tour ended, Burnett and two other members of the backing band formed The Alpha Band, followed by his first solo album in 1980.

Burnett has produced artists such as Autolux, Roy Orbison, Lisa Marie Presley, John Mellencamp, Los Lobos, Counting Crows, Elton John and Leon Russell, BoDeans, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, M2M, Natalie Merchant and The Wallflowers as well as Tony Bennett and k.d. lang on the A Wonderful World album. Burnett won Grammy Awards for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and for his work with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his songwriting contribution to the film Cold Mountain, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. He founded the record label DMZ, an imprint of Columbia, and was involved with Mark Heard and Tonio K in the short-lived What? Records. He oversaw the music for the films Walk the Line, The Big Lebowski, and Inside Llewyn Davis, and the True Detective TV series.

Early life[edit]

The only child of Joseph Henry Burnett Jr. and Hazel Perkins Burnett,[1] Burnett was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1948, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas.[2] His grandfather worked as secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention. His father wanted to be a pro athlete and was courted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, but instead he got a job in Ft. Worth with the Tandy Corporation. Burnett was brought up in the Episcopal Church of his mother. He forgot the origin of his nickname, which he uses without a dash.

Burnett learned golf an at early age. When he was seven years old, he played often at the Texas Christian University course. He idolized golf pro Ben Hogan, who was from Ft. Worth and occasionally watched Burnett and the other boys practice at the driving range. He was on the golf team at Paschal High School. In 2014 he participated in the professional tournament at Pebble Beach.[3]

Pursuing music[edit]

Burnett discovered music through his parents' 78s of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, and the songs of Cole Porter. He was drawn to music that took him to unconventional places. He heard Peggy Lee, Hank Williams, and the Beatles on the radio, was influenced by Buddy Holly, and revered Johnny Cash. He was smitten by the music of Howlin' Wolf, Skip James, and Jimmy Reed.[3]

In his pre-teens, Burnett began playing guitar. Overwhelmed by seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he started the garage band the Shadows, then the Loose Ends with his friend, Stephen Bruton. After graduating from high school, he and Bruton spent much of their time at Sound City, a recording studio in the basement of radio station KXOL. At Sound City Burnett became fascinated with record producing. He attended Texas Christian University briefly, choosing instead to work as an artists and repertoire agent for a producer at Sound City.[3]

Burnett produced and played drums on "Paralyzed", the novelty hit by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy[4][3]:16 As part of the pseudonymous group Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill, he appeared on and produced The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc. (Uni, 1968).[5][3]:17 During the same year, he produced six songs for a group of friends who called themselves "The Case Hardy Boys". Later this band would move to Los Angeles and become known first as "The Fare", then "El Roacho", and would have songs produced by Burnett, Daniel Moore, and Steve Katz. In 1972, he moved to Los Angeles and recorded his second album, The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks.[2] In 1975 and 1976, he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue.[2]

When the Revue ended, Burnett and two other members of Dylan's band, David Mansfield and Steven Soles, formed The Alpha Band,[2] which released three albums: The Alpha Band (1976), Spark in the Dark (1977), and The Statue Makers of Hollywood (1978).[3]:35–37

Burnett and singer-songwriter Sam Phillips were married in 1989 and divorced in 2004. He produced many of her albums, including Martinis and Bikinis and Cruel Inventions. He is currently married to writer-producer Callie Khouri.[6] Burnett has three daughters, including one from his marriage to Phillips.[1]

Solo work[edit]

In 1980, Burnett released his first post–Alpha Band solo album, Truth Decay, produced by Reggie Fisher, on the Takoma Records label. Truth Decay was a roots rock album described by the Rolling Stone Record Guide as "mystic Christian blues". In 1982, his Trap Door EP (also produced by Reggie Fisher), released on the Warner Brothers label, yielded the FM radio hit "I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance". Burnett toured after the release of Trap Door, opening several dates for The Who, leading a band that featured Mick Ronson on guitar. His 1983 album Proof Through the Night, whose song "When the Night Falls" got some FM 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. His 1992 album The Criminal Under My Own Hat tended toward adult album alternative music.

Proof Through the Night was reissued by Rhino Records' Handmade Music in a limited edition of 5,000 on May 29, 2007, in an expanded version. The double CD also included the EPs Trap Door and Behind the Trap Door.[7] In 2006, he released two albums. The True False Identity was his first album of new songs since 1992, and Twenty Twenty – The Essential T Bone Burnett was a 40-song career retrospective.

Production and other professional activities[edit]


Burnett's production credits include How Will the Wolf Survive? by Los Lobos (Slash/Warner Bros., 1984) by Los Lobos, King of America (Columbia, 1986) by Elvis Costello,[3]:220 Martinis and Bikinis (Virgin, 1994) and Fan Dance (Nonesuch, 2001) by Sam Phillips, Raising Sand (Rounder, 2007) by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; Life, Death, Love and Freedom (Hear Music, 2008) by John Mellencamp; The Diving Board (Capitol, 2015) by Elton John,[3]:221 and the soundtracks The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, and Crazy Heart.[3]:222

In 1985, Burnett collaborated with Elvis Costello on the single "The People's Limousine," using the moniker "The Coward Brothers." In 1987, he produced Roy Orbison's two-record album, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits and two songs of Mystery Girl. In 1997, he wrote songs for the Sam Shepard play The Tooth of Crime: Second Dance, which premiered off-Broadway in New York City with Vincent D'Onofrio and Kirk Acevedo. An album of these songs, Tooth of Crime, was released in May 2008, featuring guitarist Marc Ribot, Sam Phillips, and David Poe, whose self-titled debut Burnett also produced that year. According to Burnett, he was inspired by the music of Skip James while composing songs for the updated version of Shepard's play.[8]

In April 2006, he announced that his first concert tour in nearly two decades would begin on May 16 in Chicago at The Vic Theater. Around the same time, jazz singer Cassandra Wilson released an album of blues songs, Thunderbird (2006), which was produced by Burnett. He wrote one of the album's songs and co-wrote another with Ethan Coen. He produced music for the remake of the film All the King's Men.

In 2006 he produced Brandi Carlile's The Story album, the title song of which became a minor hit and was featured on a special broadcast of ABC-TV's Grey's Anatomy. Carlile's guitarist and bassist, twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth, respectively, used instruments from Burnett's private collection during the "live" recordings in Vancouver, British Columbia.

T Bone Burnett on stage at Birmingham's NIA, May 5, 2008 with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

In early 2008, Pete Townshend announced that Burnett was to go into the studio that fall to help produce an all-covers album for The Who.[9] However, on a May 15, 2008, episode of the NPR radio show All Songs Considered, Burnett threw that project into question. He stated that Townshend had indicated in a blog that he was putting all his projects on hold.[10]

In 2009, Burnett produced albums for Moonalice and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.[11] In that same year, he also produced Elvis Costello's album, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane as well as co-writing the song "Sulfur to Sugarcane" with Costello.[12]

Burnett produced a collaboration album by Elton John and Leon Russell. John, Russell, and Bernie Taupin (John's lyricist) wrote songs together in late 2009. The album, The Union, was recorded in January 2010 and released in October 2010.

In 2010, Burnett produced Gregg Allman's album Low Country Blues (released in January 2011).[13]


In 2008, it was reported that Burnett "started a new venture called Code, which aims to do for music what THX did for movie-theater sound: set standards that ensure the best possible quality."[14] He is opposed to the trend of brighter and more compressed processing, sufficiently so, that he essentially retired from the music business around 1995–1996 and pursued an opportunity to work in theater with Sam Shepard, leading to his work on several films.[15]

The audio format known as Code involves the simultaneous release of multiple sound formats, thus avoiding much of the processing which happens when sound is converted from one format to another. The first album produced with Code was Life, Death, Love and Freedom (2008) by John Mellencamp.[14]

Work in films[edit]

In 1992, Burnett worked on some songs with his friend River Phoenix for the movie The Thing Called Love. He was the coach of Samantha Mathis.[citation needed]

In 2000, Burnett produced the soundtrack and wrote the score for the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The award-winning soundtrack featured music from Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, and others performing traditional American folk music, blues and bluegrass – reminiscent of Burnett's 1986 self-titled release. The album was a hit, garnering numerous industry awards from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music,[16] and the Country Music Association.[citation needed] The album was a commercial success and sold almost eight million copies, according to Billboard.[17]

A documentary film, Down from the Mountain, was made of a benefit concert of the soundtrack performed by the artists on the album; Burnett figures prominently in the film. For producing the soundtrack albums for these two films, and for his wife Sam Phillips's album Fan Dance, Burnett won the 2002 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Burnett went on to produce the less popular gospel soundtrack to the Coen's The Ladykillers.

In 2004, under the name "Henry Burnett", he arranged "I Wish My Baby Was Born" and wrote "Like a Songbird That Has Fallen" and "Scarlet Tide" for the movie Cold Mountain. "Scarlet Tide", co-written with Elvis Costello and performed by Alison Krauss, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and won BAFTA's Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music.

In 2005, he composed the score for Wim Wenders's film Don't Come Knocking.

In 2005, he worked with actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for their singing roles as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in the film Walk the Line. Witherspoon won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film, giving special thanks to Burnett in her speech for "helping her realize her lifelong dream of being a country music singer". He also produced that film's soundtrack album and wrote its score.

In 2009, Burnett collaborated on music for the movie Crazy Heart, winning a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and a Grammy Award for the song "The Weary Kind", which he composed with Ryan Bingham. Burnett was also a producer of the film, along with Jeff Bridges and Robert Duvall.[18]

In 2013, he was Executive Music Producer for the Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis.

Awards and honors[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]


In 2010 Burnett won several awards for the movie Crazy Heart. He and Ryan Bingham shared the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the Golden Globe Award for Best Song for "The Weary Kind".[20] The song won them a Critics Choice Award and won Burnett a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy. For the score, Burnett and Stephen Bruton won an award from Los Angeles Film Critics Association and Burnett won the Frederick Loewe award. He shared the award for Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards with the producers (Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner and Judy Cairo) and director Scott Cooper.[citation needed].

Solo discography[edit]

Album Release Date
The B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks 1972
Truth Decay 1980
Trap Door 1982
Proof Through the Night 1983
Behind the Trap Door 1984
T-Bone Burnett 1986
The Talking Animals 1987
The Criminal Under My Own Hat 1992
The True False Identity 2006
Twenty Twenty – The Essential T Bone Burnett 2006
Tooth of Crime 2008
T-Bone Burnett Presents The Speaking Clock Revue: Live from the Beacon Theatre 2011
A Place at the Table 2013


Album Song Release Date
Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson Nothing in Return 1990
Until the End of the World Humans from Earth 1991

Alpha Band discography[edit]

Album Release Date
The Statue Makers of Hollywood 1978
Spark in the Dark 1977
Alpha Band 1976

Record production discography[edit]

Album Artist Credit Release Date
The Phosphorescent Blues Punch Brothers Executive Producer January 27, 2015
Plain Spoken John Mellencamp Executive Producer September 23, 2014
Ghostlight Betty Buckley Producer September 16, 2014
Put Your Needle Down The Secret Sisters Producer April 15, 2014
The Diving Board Elton John Producer September 16, 2013
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County Various Producer April 6, 2013
Glad Rag Doll Diana Krall Producer April 10, 2012
Storm & Grace Lisa Marie Presley Producer May 15, 2012
The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond Various Producer March 20, 2012
Voice of Ages The Chieftains Producer February 21, 2012
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive Steve Earle Producer April 26, 2011
Low Country Blues Gregg Allman Producer January 18, 2011
National Ransom Elvis Costello Producer, songwriter February 11, 2010
The Union Elton John and Leon Russell Producer, guitar, songwriter October 19, 2010
The Secret Sisters The Secret Sisters Executive Producer December 10, 2010
Myth of the Heart Sahara Smith Producer August 31, 2010
Junky Star Ryan Bingham Producer August 31, 2010
No Better Than This John Mellencamp Producer August 17, 2010
We Walk This Road Robert Randolph & The Family Band Producer, guitar, songwriter June 21, 2010
Country Music Willie Nelson Producer April 13, 2010
Women + Country Jakob Dylan Producer June 4, 2010
Crazy Heart Various Producer January 19, 2010
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane Elvis Costello Producer February 6, 2009
Moonalice Moonalice Producer April 14, 2009
One Kind Favor B.B. King Producer August 26, 2008
Akiko Akiko Yano Producer October 22, 2008
Life, Death, Love and Freedom John Mellencamp Producer July 15, 2008
Still BoDeans Producer April 3, 2008
1967 Betty Buckley Producer October 16, 2007
Raising Sand Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Producer October 23, 2007
Across the Universe Various Producer September 14, 2007
The Story Brandi Carlile Producer March 4, 2007
Thunderbird Cassandra Wilson Producer April 4, 2006
Walk the Line Various Producer November 15, 2005
Future Perfect Autolux Producer October 26, 2004
A Boot and a Shoe Sam Phillips Producer April 27, 2004
The Ladykillers Various Producer March 23, 2004
Ollabelle Ollabelle Producer September 3, 2004
Cold Mountain Various Producer December 16, 2003
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Various Producer May 28, 2002
Ralph Stanley Ralph Stanley Producer November 6, 2002
A Wonderful World Tony Bennett and k.d. lang Producer May 11, 2002
Motherland Natalie Merchant Producer November 13, 2001
Fan Dance Sam Phillips Producer July 31, 2001
Down from the Mountain Various Producer July 24, 2001
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Various Producer May 12, 2000
Come to Where I'm From Joseph Arthur Producer November 4, 2000
Blue Days Black Nights Freedy Johnston Producer, Optigan July 20, 1999
Songs from the Pipe The Surfers Producer July 21, 1998
Hell Among the Yearlings Gillian Welch Producer July 28, 1998
Horse Whisperer Various Producer February 6, 1998
Clay Pigeons Various Producer September 22, 1998
Olé Tonio K Producer December 23, 1997 (recorded 1990)
David Poe David Poe Producer, bass guitar, ukulele September 23, 1997
Omnipop Sam Phillips Producer August 20, 1996
Stealing Beauty Various Producer May 28, 1996
Bringing Down the Horse Wallflowers Producer May 21, 1996
Revival Gillian Welch Producer September 4, 1996
Sweetie Daniel Tashian Producer, guitar March 26, 1996
Braver Newer World Jimmie Dale Gilmore Producer, guitar, mixing June 25, 1996
Bringing on the Weather Jackopierce Producer February 14, 1995
Pretty Little Lonely Michael Petak Producer August 16, 1994
Martinis & Bikinis Sam Phillips Producer August 3, 1994
Dart to the Heart Bruce Cockburn Producer January 3, 1994
Go Slow Down BoDeans Producer, engineer December 10, 1993
August and Everything After Counting Crows Producer, guitar September 14, 1993
A. J. Croce A. J. Croce Producer May 25, 1993
Everything You Want (Nothing That You Need) Seven Stories Producer 1993
Five Easy Pieces Dirty Looks Producer October 11, 1992
Lily Wendy Matthews Producer September 28, 1992
Break Like the Wind Spinal Tap Producer, mixing March 17, 1992
Until the End of the World Various Producer, mixing October 12, 1991
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips Producer, guitar, Chamberlin May 28, 1991
Live Two Five Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Producer July 16, 1991
Nothing but a Burning Light Bruce Cockburn Producer May 11, 1991
Shuffletown Joe Henry Producer, guitar, drums August 31, 1990
My Father's Face Leo Kottke Producer, guitar, organ October 25, 1990
Third World Warrior Kris Kristofferson Arranger, guitar June 3, 1990
Mystery Girl Roy Orbison Producer, guitar January 2, 1989
Spike Elvis Costello Producer, guitar, bass guitar February 14, 1989
Black & White Night: Live Roy Orbison Producer, guitar October 23, 1989
The Indescribable Wow Sam Phillips Producer, guitar September 8, 1988
"Notes from the Lost Civilization" Tonio K Producer, guitar 1988
By the Light of the Moon Los Lobos Producer July 7, 1987
The Turning Leslie Phillips Producer, guitar 1987
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams BoDeans Producer, guitar January 5, 1986
King of America The Costello Show Producer, guitar February 21, 1986
Romeo Unchained Tonio K. Producer, guitar, drums 1986
Peter Case Peter Case Producer, guitar 1986
Downtown Marshall Crenshaw Producer, sitar September 16, 1985
How Will the Wolf Survive? Los Lobos Producer, guitar, organ January 1, 1984
Time Step Leo Kottke Producer January 5, 1983
Delbert & Glen Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark Producer 1972
Live at the New Bluebird Nightclub Robert Ealey and His Five Careless Lovers Producer 1970
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy Legendary Stardust Cowboy Producer, drums 1968
The Van Dykes The Van Dykes Producer 1966

Film and television discography[edit]

Project Medium Credit Release Date
True Detective Television Composer 2014
Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis Television Producer 2013[21]
Inside Llewyn Davis Film Executive Music Producer 2013
Nashville Television Executive Music Producer 2012–2013[22]
The Hunger Games film score Film Executive Music Producer March 26, 2012
Tough Trade Television Executive Producer, Music Producer, composer 2010
Crazy Heart Film Producer, songwriter, composer December 19, 2009
Across The Universe Film Music Producer December 10, 2007
All the King's Men Film Executive Music Producer September 22, 2006
Walk the Line Film Executive Music Producer, composer November 18, 2005
Don't Come Knocking Film Executive Music Producer, composer August 25, 2005
The Ladykillers Film Executive Music Producer March 26, 2004
Cold Mountain Film Executive Music Producer December 25, 2003
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Film Composer July 6, 2002
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Film Music Producer, Original Music December 22, 2000
The Big Lebowski Film Musical Archivist June 3, 1998
Great Balls of Fire! Film Music producer, composer June 29, 1989
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night TV Special Musical Director March 1, 1988


  1. ^ a b "Obituaries: Hazel Perkins Burnett Vernon". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 10 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gill, Andy (February 20, 2010). "Melody maker: T Bone Burnett". The Independent. Retrieved February 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sachs, Lloyd (October 4, 2016). T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit. University of Texas Press. pp. 9–12. ISBN 978-1477303771. 
  4. ^ "T Bone Burnett – Discography". T Bone Burnett. 
  5. ^ The Mojo Collection (4 ed.). 2007. 
  6. ^ Willman, Chris (30 October 2013). "T Bone Burnett on Quitting Wife Callie Khouri's 'Nashville': It Was a 'Drag-Out Fight'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  7. ^ T Bone Burnett- Proof Through The Night & The Complete Trap Door – Press Release
  8. ^ Steve Turner (May 23, 2006). "T Bone Burnett profile". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  9. ^ The Who preps Covers Album
  10. ^ NPR All Songs Considered featuring T Bone Burnett
  11. ^ Grace Potter – News
  12. ^ "Costello: 'Secret, Profane...,' 4.5 stars". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  13. ^ NY Times article on Gregg Allmann that appeared 16 January 2011
  14. ^ a b Brian Hiatt (May 20, 2008). "Artists Fight for New Hi-Fi Formats". RollingStone.Com. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  15. ^ WNYC – Soundcheck: T Bone Burnett (June 09, 2008)
  16. ^ Specifically, 2001 Album of the Year, and 2001 Vocal Event of the Year (albeit neither song nor single of the year), cf Academy of Country Music Awards.
  17. ^ Jessen, Wade (January 29, 2015). "Luke Bryan's 'Party' Still Rocking, Sam Hunt's Album Holds at No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 19, 2015. HE DON'T NEED YOUR ROCKING CHAIR: ((subsection title, allcaps in original)) At 87 years young, first-generation country and bluegrass star Ralph Stanley becomes the oldest living artist to score a top 20 entry on Top Country Albums, as Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man of Constant Sorrow bows at No. 14 with 3,000 copies sold. Previously that distinction belonged to comic legend George Burns, who reached No. 12 on the March 15, 1980 list with I Wish I Was Eighteen Again. Burns was 84 at the time. Stanley, a highly venerated and influential vocal and banjo stylist, won the 2002 Grammy Award for best country male vocal performance for a new version of Dock Boggs' traditional Appalachian folk ballad "O Death," recorded for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. That set ruled Top Country Albums for a whopping 35 weeks in 2001-02 and has sold 7.9 million copies. 
  18. ^ Schneider, Jason (March 2010). "Conversations: T Bone Burnett". Exclaim!. 
  19. ^ "T Bone Burnett". GRAMMY.com. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017. 
  20. ^ Gilbert, Calvin (8 March 2010). "Jeff Bridges, Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett Win Oscars for Crazy Heart". CMT News. Retrieved 17 July 2017. 
  21. ^ "IMDB: Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis". Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  22. ^ Goldberg, Lesley. "'Nashville' Music Guru T Bone Burnett Won't Return for Season 2 (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]