HM Prince Daniel I (countfeedback) wrote,
HM Prince Daniel I

It's a Family Tradition

So I got a show tommorrow in Memphis.  It's a free outdoor Rock N Roll Party provided by the good folks at Tear It Up clothing and accessories boutique.  The other bands will be Area 69, The Splints, Alert The Youth, and The Vacant. Bands start at 6pm. All ages. Corner of Cooper St. and Young Ave.  Mapquest it, lazy.

Now that the shameless plug is out of the way, onto the real entry.  I am not the first -billy in my family to come along and take over Memphis by storm.  That would actually be my great uncle. Affectionately known to me, my brother, and my parents as Uncle Chink.  The rest of the world knew him as Eddie Burns.  In the mid-50s, Eddie Burns formed a hillbilly group and began playing semi-professionally.  He even once had a gig booked with that Presley guy. I forget his first name. Elvin or something like that?
I digress.  Without further ado - here's the man himself:

Eddie would be the grinning fool on the left.  This image is a copy made of an original promotional flyer from 1955.  Under that image of the band, which represents a primitive form of photoshopping (Somebody took a physical photograph and hand-cut around the band members then physically pasted it onto a hand-drawn/hand-written flyer. You can see they cut off the neck of the second guitar player) is the following info. And I quote: HILL BILLY STRING MUSIC FOR ALL YOU COUNTRY LOVERS! PICKIN AND GRINNIN ANYWHERE IN THE TRI STATE AREA
Which is followed by contact phone numbers for a Jay and John Brunner.  This particular flyer was actually a letter that one of my grandmother's relatives - perhaps Eddie Burns'  wife at the time - wrote to my grandmother.  Amongst family health updates and smalltalk "He's growing so fast, I cant hardly believe it!" they also write: "On the back is your brother's band.  He's doing pretty good with it.  They play every friday and saturday night, and most wednesdays."
I was actually surprised that Uncle Chink was getting more regular gigs than I've ever gotten.
Now, I don't know if they ever auditioned for 'that Phillips guy' who would reputedly listen to anyone.  And I dunno if they ever played a gig with Johnny Cash.  But I would speculate that within that time-period, and Memphis being the small world it was, that they almost certainly must have played some shows with the likes of Sonny Burgess, Billy Riley, Malcolm Yelvington and other Rock n roll pioneers.  In fact... I consider Uncle Chink himself a rock n roll pioneer.  Sure, the flyer says 'country' and 'hill billy'.  But back then, Elvis went by the moniker "The Hillbilly Cat" and touted himself as playing "hillbilly" music and was marketed as a "country & western singer".  Bop, or rock n roll, or rockabilly as it would later come to be called was a controversial, dirty, nasty thing nobody in their right mind would intentionally be associated with. 

"Well I dunno, Sam.  I mean, is it COUNTRY?"  "Are you kiddin?! Ole Dewey says it's SO country, he cain't even play it past 5 am!!"

Burns played more or less the same genre of music, despite having more traditional instrumentation of fiddle and steel guitar. 
And besides.  Rockabilly has always been nothing more than a subgenre of country music.  Which is something far too many so-called 'rockabillies' these days completely fail to understand.
So whatever became of Eddie Burns?  Well, professionally I suppose the band more or less ran its course and he retired from public performance.  Personally, his wife divorced him, filled their children with all kinds of lies about his character and he never saw them again.  They remain estranged from our family to this day.  Eddie lived out a long natural life with a pushy, overbearing second wife that nobody really likes.  And he died a couple years ago of more or less just old age.  I never spoke to him about his musical career in life because I never knew he HAD one.  Nobody bothered to tell me.  Uncle Chink was one of those honest, nice farmboys from a by-gone era that you just couldn't come with anything bad to say about them if you tried.

At any rate, this may explain why it is that I became irresistably drawn to make billy music of my own.  It's in my blood!
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