T Bone Burnett
Over the course of his long, varied career, T-Bone Burnett was a band member, solo artist, producer, sideman, and more, working with a boatload of great artists and making some loftily regarded records. He was born Joseph Henry Burnett III in St. Louis, Missouri and he grew up a music-loving kid in Fort Worth, Texas. Like so many of his contemporaries, the teenage Burnett was motivated to start playing in bands when The Beatles made their legendary first appearance on Ed Sullivan's show. He eventually became part of the psychedelic folk-rock band Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill, releasing an album with them in 1968. Four years later he released his first, little-heard solo album, The B-52 Band & The Fabulous Skylarks, as J. Henry Burnett. Burnett played guitar on Bob Dylan's legendary Rolling Thunder tour in 1975-'76, and after it ended he co-founded The Alpha Band with Rolling Thunder tour mates David Mansfield and Stephen Soles. Between 1976 and '79 they released three albums for Arista. He released his first album as T-Bone Burnett, Truth Decay, in 1980. And while he had produced some singles and a couple of albums here and there since the late '60s, his production career began in earnest in 1983 with Los Lobos' And a Time to Dance. He released four more solo albums in the '80s on both major and indie levels, never nabbing big numbers but becoming something of a cult hero. His '80s production work included albums by Marshall Crenshaw, Elvis Costello (the beginning of a long partnership), The BoDeans, and Roy Orbison, as well as more Los Lobos records. His 1987 production of Leslie Phillips (soon renamed Sam) led to the two being married from 1989 to 2004. In the '90s, Burnett's production helped to launch the careers of a number of major acts including Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, and Gillian Welch, but he only had time for one solo album, 1992's The Criminal Under My Own Hat. His production of the all-star Americana soundtrack to hit film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" in 2000 helped inspire a bluegrass revival and kicked off Burnett's career as a Grammy-winning movie soundtrack producer. The 2000s saw the release of two more solo records, The True False Identity and Tooth of Crime. In the 2010s Burnett's production resume included Elton John, Steven Tyler, further soundtrack work and two more solo albums, A Place at the Table (2013) and The Invisible Light (2019).