AKA Joseph Henry Burnett
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Blues/country producer and performer
T-Bone Burnett began his musical activity in Fort Worth, where he played with local blues bands and eventually opened his own recording studio. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s and established himself as both a producer and a performer, his debut album The B-52 Band and the Fabulous Skylarks surfacing in 1972. After a period spent on the road with Delaney and Bonnie, Burnett was invited to participate as a guitarist in Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975; when the tour ended, he and some of his fellow Revue musicians went on to create The Alpha Band, releasing a self-titled debut in 1977. Two further albums with the group were recorded, Spark in the Dark (1977) and Statue Makers of Hollywood (1978), but a lack of interest brought their collaboration to an end by 1979.
After the demise of The Alpha Band, Burnett turned to a solo career with 1980's Truth Decay, the first release under his "T-Bone" moniker. A deal with Warner Brothers was followed by the mini-album Trap Door (1982) and the full-length Proof Through the Night (1983). Critical response to his work remained consistently enthusiastic, but -- despite guest appearances by musicians such as Pete Townshend and Ry Cooder on Proof -- a commercial breakthrough never materialized, prompting him to focus more on his career as a producer.
Throughout the remainder of the 1980s, Burnett lent his production skills to numerous successful records by performers such as Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Los Lobos and BoDeans. An eponymous fourth record was released in 1986, the same year that he produced The Turning by Christian singer Leslie Phillips; with Burnett's assistance, Phillips would subsequently establish a career under the name Sam Phillips before marrying her producer in 1989. Burnett's output under his own name remained occasional, issuing The Talking Animals in 1988 and The Criminal Under My Own Hat in 1992.
In 2000 received widespread acclaim for his production duties on the popular soundtrack to the Cohen Brother's film O Brother, Where Art Thou?,and its accompanying documentary Down From the Mountain. Both of these efforts, as well as his work on Sam Phillips' critically acclaimed release Fan Dance, would earn him a Grammy for Producer of the Year in 2002.
Wife: Sam Phillips (singer, m. 1989, one daughter)
Grammy Producer of the Year, Non-Classical (2002)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (11-Jun-2019)
Down from the Mountain (Dec-2000) · Himself
Heaven's Gate (19-Nov-1980) · Heaven's Gate Band
Renaldo and Clara (25-Jan-1978)
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