Biography

Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio is the 1956 debut album of the influential rockabilly band The Rock and Roll Trio, fronted by Johnny Burnette.

When the Memphis-based Rock and Roll Trio relocated to New York in the hopes of finding the fame that had eluded them in their native South, they signed with Coral Records and entered the studio, recording a total of 25 tracks for the label over three sessions between May 7, 1956 and March 22, 1957. The first session was in May of 1956 in New York City. The second recordings took place in Nashville, Tennessee in July. Tracks from those two sessions, including several singles by the band, were collected and released in December 1956 as the band’s first album. The band’s recordings have been a strong influence over later rockabilly artists, even though the band didn’t make commercial success.  The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound gives the short lived band an ever more widespread influence, saying that that “the sheer verve and energy communicated by the brother’s records influenced the writing and playing styles of British and American rock stars in the 1960s and 1970s.

Johnny-Burnette-boxer1At a time when Sam Phillips was the guy that owned Sun Studios in Memphis, and recorded Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Charlie Rich, and tons of other great artists that are kind of under the radar, the convergence of country and rock and roll came together to make up rockabilly, from Johnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll trio, to Eddie Cochran.

The Burnette brothers were a wild bunch. Straight out of the Memphis farm fields and into the boxing rings, these country boys carried a bit of punch with them when they swung an uppercut into the burgeoning field of Rock n Roll. They were among only a handful of early rockers who were actually born and raised in Memphis, unlike most of the Sun Records artists like Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, who were from other parts of the south. Also, all three members of the Rock and Roll Trio were amateur boxers. In fact, Dorsey Burnette first met Burlison at a Golden Gloves championship.

In 1956, Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio recorded Train Kept a Rollin’  in a rockabilly/early rock and roll style. The Trio’s version of this cover song features guitar lines in what many historians consider to be the first recorded example of intentionally distorted guitar in rock music.