In 1956-57, Paul Burlison (4 February 1929 – 27 September 2003) was the lead guitarist in the Johnny Burnette Trio, also known as the Rock n’ Roll Trio, which released such classic tracks as Lonesome Train (On A Lonesome Track), Train Kept A-Rollin’, Honey Hush, Rockbilly Boogie, Sweet Love On My Mind, All By Myself, and I Just Found Out.
Paul Burlison’s grave is in the cemetery of the Hines Chapel Methodist Church in Horn Lake, Mississippi. The church is located 5105 Church Road between Highway 301 and Horn Lake Road.
The GPS location of the grave is: N 34° 55.853 W 90° 04.731′
Here is a map showing the location of Hines Chapel Methodist Church:
Another nearby Blues Musicians’ Grave you may want to see is Memphis Minnie, in Walls, Mississippi.
Before Elvis Presley became a successful musician, he and Paul Burlison worked together at Crown Electric in Memphis; Paul Burlison was an electrician, Elvis Presley was a truck driver.
Paul Burlison is known for his distorted tone and the first deliberate use of distortion on an electric guitar. Before a performance in 1956, Paul Burlison dropped his amplifier, causing a tube to come loose, which resulted in a distortion which the Rock n’ Roll Trio adopted on their classic 1956 cover of Tiny Bradshaw‘s 1952 hit Train Kept A- Rollin’.
That distorted tone proved very influential. The Rock n’ Roll Trio’s 1956 version of Train Kept A-Rollin’ has been covered by The Yardbirds, Aerosmith and Motorhead, among others. Colin James has also covered the song but has followed the Tiny Bradshaw original.
Despite the Johnny Burnette Rock n’ Trio now being considered a very influential rockabilly band, the group did not achieve major success when its albums were released in 1956-57. The band broke up in 1957 and Paul Burlison started an electrical contracting business which he ran for over twenty years.
He returned to music in the 1980s with Johnny Burnette’s son, Rocky Burnette. Paul Burlison released an album, Train Kept A-Rollin’, under his own name in 1997.
Here are some videos of Paul Burlison.
This is a 1956 video of the Johnny Burnette Trio performing Hound Dog on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Paul Burlison is in the light colored suit on the left of the screen:
Here’s a video of the Johnny Burnette Trio, with Paul Burlison, doing Lonesome Train in 1956:
This is a 1997 interview with Paul Burlison to promote his 1997 album, Train Kept A-Rollin. The audio is not very good on this one.
This one is of a fan visiting Paul Burlison at his home in 1993. Note that the audio is poor.
If you’re going to see Paul Burlison’s grave, be aware that the Hines Chapel Methodist Church can be somewhat difficult to see while driving on Church Road. The following photos show what the church looks like from the road:
The Hinds Chapel Cemetery is behind the church. Here’s what the cemetery entrance looks like:
Here are some other websites with more information on Paul Burlison:
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