Top 10 Billy Burnette Songs

Top 10 Billy Burnette Songs

Feature Photo: Ogovorka / Shutterstock

Fans of Fleetwood Mac may recognize Billy Burnette as one of its bandmates during the 1980s and the 1990s. They may also recognize him as the son of rockabilly star, Dorsey Burnette. In a classic like father like son scenario, Billy Burnette ventured into the music business to carve a name for himself as well. Whether as a solo artist or collaborating as a band member, Burnette has racked up a number of hits of his own. The top ten Billy Burnette songs that come to mind include his work as a solo artist and his run as a collaborator.

It Runs In the Family

Born on May 8, 1963, in Memphis, Tennessee, Billy Burnette was already destined to become a music star. His father, Dorsey Burnette, already made a name for himself as one of The Rock and Roll Trio. Billy’s uncle, Johnny Burnette, was also in that lineup. Completing the picture of that trio was Paul Burlison. Throughout the 1950s, the Burnettes and Burlison performed as a rockabilly group that earned for themselves a loyal fan following. These three men were credited as one the founding fathers behind the rockabilly genre that continues to make its musical footprint today. Billy Burnette also has a cousin, Johnny Burnette’s son, Rocky Burnette. Yes, this is the same Rocky Burnette behind the hit single, “Tired of Toein’ the Line.”

Although Billy Burnette grew up in a musical household and was already performing as a singer since the age of seven, it wasn’t until he was a teenager he’d pick up the guitar and learned how to write songs. Aside from crediting his father and uncle as key influencers that shaped his career, Billy Burnette was also inspired by the music from the Beatles, Bonnie & Friends, Delaney, and Elvis Presley. The collection of these stars dictated the direction of Billy’s own music as a musician. At just nine years old, he was already recording music and releasing singles to be played on the radio.

When he was thirteen years old, he accompanied Brenda Lee to entertain the troops in the Far East. A week after graduating from high school, Billy Burnette signed up with Columbia Records. Already by this time, the young lad and his cousin were establishing themselves as legitimate musicians destined for greatness. It certainly helped when Dorsey Burnette introduced his son to the label’s record producer, Chips Moman. By 1971, Billy Burnette was in Nashville, Tennessee, collaborating with the likes of Larry Henley and Roger Miller. For three years, the young Burnette toured with Miller as his rhythm guitarist. In the meantime, he recorded and released his fourth studio album, Billy Burnette.

Aside from writing and recording his own musical material, Billy Burnette also wrote for other notable recording artists such as Glen Campbell, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Rod Stewart. Right from the get-go, Billy Burnette had the makings of a bonafide rock star between his charismatic appeal and musical talent. While with Entrance Records in 1972, Billy Burnette released his debut album. It wouldn’t be until 1979 he would release his second studio album, this time via Polydor Records. Both albums shared the exact same title but not the same tracklist. In 1980 with Columbia Records, his third Billy Burnette studio album was also released as a recording with its own tracklist. At just seventeen years old, Burnette was already a recording artist veteran with a total of four studio albums to his credit. It was also at this time he met Mick Fleetwood, founder of the iconic rock band, Fleetwood Mac. The two hit it off right from the get-go and remained close friends and colleagues ever since.

Zoo Life

After meeting Mick Fleetwood at the taping of Dick Clark’s anniversary special in 1980, Billy Burnette invited him to form a new rock band known as The Zoo. In 1983, this supergroup saw Burnette and Fleetwood as the leading men while a revolving door of top-name recording artists such as Stevie Nicks and Eddy Van Halen would leave their musical footprint in some of the recordings. Aside from his dedication to The Zoo, Billy Burnette also pursued a career as a solo artist. Between singing and songwriting, his original goal was to liven up the country genre with his brand of music. While his father and uncle were instrumental in the development of rockabilly, Billy Burnette sought to leave a similar mark of his own. In 1985, right after signing with MCA Records, Burnette found himself in good company with the likes of Marty Stuart and Randy Travis when he was recognized by the country music industry as a new male vocalist with promise. At this particular time, it looked as if Burnette was destined to become one of the dominant country stars that would follow in his father’s footsteps as a rockabilly legend.

However, fate had other ideas. Billy Burnette’s buddy, Mick Fleetwood, called him up and invited the young lad to join the Fleetwood Mac lineup. For Burnette, saying no was out of the question as the opportunity to join one of the most popular musical groups in history was too tempting to ignore. From 1987 until 1995, Billy Burnette recorded and toured as one of Fleetwood Mac’s own. It was also during this time Burnette’s collection of written songs was picked up and recorded by some of the industry’s greats such as Cher and Faith Hill. In addition to wowing the world as a performer, Burnette’s Hollywood good looks earned him a series of roles in movies and television. However, as soon as the 1990s hit, the longing for Billy Burnette to return to his country roots had a voice that was growing louder and louder.

No Place Like Home

As much as Billy Burnette enjoyed the fruit of success while he resided in California at the time, there was no place quite like home. He returned to Nashville, Tennessee, looking to jump back into country music. After signing up with Warner Bros. Records, he recorded and released Coming Home in 1992. The success of the album, plus its single, “Tangled Up in Texas,” was the “welcome home” that would inspire Burnette to continue with his first love, country music. That love would include teaming up with Bekka Bramlett. She, like him, came from Fleetwood Mac’s lineup. In 1997, as Bekka & Billy, the duo released Bekka and Billy as an album before going their separate ways in 1998.

Going into the twenty-first century, Billy Burnette continued as a singer and songwriter. In 2003, he teamed up with Bonnie Raitt and Ray Charles for the single, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.” This was one of the songs featured on the Grammy Award-winning album, Genius Loves Company. This became the final studio album released by Ray Charles before he passed away on June 10, 2004. After this, Billy Burnette recorded Memphis in Manhattan. Released in 2006, this became one of his most popular albums as a rockabilly star. The live recording of this highly acclaimed record took place inside St. Peter’s Church in New York City. A year after this, Burnette teamed up with Shawn Camp for Bluegrass Elvises Vol. 1. The album became a big hit on the Americana charts, performing well as a tribute to the iconic Elvis Presley.

For over four decades, Billy Burnette’s mark as a music star has been more than enough to make his father, Dorsey Burnette, proud. Through him, the Burnette legacy continues as Billy’s musical talent has earned him a place among some of the biggest stars ever to grace the music scene. As a solo artist, Burnette has recorded and released sixteen studio albums, as well as eight singles. While with Fleetwood Mac, he worked with the group to record and release five albums. Throughout the forty-plus years, Billy Burnette has been a musician and songwriter, fans are more likely to remember his run with Fleetwood Mac that began in the mid-1980s. As a singer and songwriter, Billy Burnette has contributed so much. While his father and uncle may have been one of the kickstarts behind rockabilly, Billy Burnette’s influence was the turbo engine behind popularizing it even further with his musical genius.

Top 10 Billy Burnette Songs

#10 – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay

While it’s impossible to outdo the original performance of Otis Redding’s hit single, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” Billy Burnette was able to cover this song with enough finesse that made it an easily likable favorite. This was recorded as one of the tracks featured on his second studio album, Billy Burnette. It was released in 1979, seven years after making his debut with an album sharing the exact same title. He was only sixteen years old at the time when he did this but was already familiar enough with a recording studio to bring forth such a great performance. Burnette’s country charm gave Redding’s biggest classic a decent alternative worth listening to.

 

#9 – What’s a Little Love Between Friends

“What’s a Little Love Between Friends” was the first single Billy Burnette released as a solo artist. In 1979, it peaked as high as number seventy-six on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs list. Albeit a modest hit, it marked the beginning of Burnette’s presence on the US Billboard charts as a solo artist. Coming from a man fresh out of high school, the mix of energetic youth was beautifully combined with someone who already had almost a decade’s worth of recorded music as an achievement. This song was also performed as a duet by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty for their ninth collaborative album together, Diamond Duet. The song was about taking a mutual friendship to the next level and seeing where it leads to.

 

#8 – River of Love (featuring Shawn Camp and Dennis Morgan)

In 2007, Billy Burnette, Shawn Camp, and Dennis Morgan worked together to write and record “River of Love.” It was a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for George Strait when he covered it in 2008 as one of his songs for his album, Troubador. When he recorded this song for his album, Burnette, Camp, and Morgan sang as his backing vocalists. The river featured in the song made a reference to the flow of love that’s meant to sail along as part of its natural course. “River of Love” was designed to be a fun song, embracing the moment as if two people were on a canoe, paddling their way through life as one cohesive unit. In addition to becoming a number one hit on the country charts, “River of Love” also became a number fifty-nine hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.

 

#7 – Tangled Up in Texas

1993’s “Tangled Up in Texas” was a single Billy Burnette released that failed to make an appearance on any of the US Billboard charts. However, this is a great rockabilly tune that saw the man return to his country roots through the album, Coming Home. The influence of rock rolled clean into Texas like a tumbleweed in what was a fun song about having a good time and living life for the moment. At the time, Burnette was still in Fleetwood Mac’s lineup but he was able to dig back into his country roots with a tune that became an easy fan favorite.

 

#6 – Try Me

Released in 1985, “Try Me” came from Try Me, Billy Burnette’s sixth studio album. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it became a number sixty-eight hit. This was a song about lending support to a love interest, hoping she’d come around and see the value of a man who was patiently waiting for her to welcome his embrace. When listening to this song as a fan, it’s easy to get into the toe-tapping beat as Burnette strummed his guitar in what started out a modest hit before becoming a country club favorite.

 

#5 – Nothin’ to Do (And All Night to Do It)

When Billy Burnette opted to go back to Nashville, Tennessee, in his quest to tap back into his country roots, he took some of that rock influence from California with him. “Nothin’ to Do (And All Night to Do It)” was a Burnette-style approach to Styx’s “Too Much Time on My Hands.” Released in 1992 as a single, this song may not have earned a spot as a chart hit on the official music billboards but it did win over fans who fell in love with his brand of rockabilly music.

 

#4 – Ain’t It Just Like Love

On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, “Ain’t It Just Like Love” became a number fifty-one hit for Billy Burnette in 1985. From the album, Try Me, fans may recognize Christine McVie’s vocals in the background as Burnette sang about a surprising revelation that love was already sitting in his lap and he never knew it. Before officially joining Fleetwood Mac’s lineup as a member, Burnette was already familiar with McVie and the rest of the band. Burnette first met Mack Fleetwood in 1980 while these two men were part of Dick Clark’s anniversary special that year. Whether as bandmates or as collaborators, Burnette and McVie teamed up often, recording and releasing music the fans were more than willing to listen to.

 

#3 – The Bigger the Love (The Harder the Fall)

From 1993’s Coming Home, “The Bigger the Love (The Harder the Fall)” was a Billy Burnette single that was released but didn’t score a hit on any of the official music charts. In 1994, Burnette starred in the suspenseful movie, Saturday Night Special. “The Bigger the Love” was a ballad that was performed by him as a character who had to deal with the bitter pill of heartache as soon as his relationship with his love interest met its first big obstacle. There is no state more vulnerable than putting your heart on the line with the hope the person who matters to you the most is willing to do the same. That’s actually the easy part. The hardest part is not losing the delicate balance as these two hearts dance on that fine line of romance that may or may not stand the test of time.

 

#2 – Don’t Say No

As high as number sixty-eight on the US Billboard Hot 100, “Don’t Say No” became Billy Burnette’s first hit as a solo artist on the pop charts. From the Columbia Records’ edition of Billy Burnette, this 1980 hit featured the artist lyrically pleading with his love interest to give their chance at romance a go. According to some fans, Burnette’s performance of “Don’t Say No” was like witnessing Buddy Holly spring to life in a song many felt was an underrated hit. When Burnette became part of Fleetwood Mac’s lineup, several fans were disappointed the band didn’t pick up “Don’t Say No” as part of its musical repertoire.

 

#1 – Soldier of Love

In 1986, “Soldier of Love” became a number fifty-six hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for Billy Burnette. This was the title track from what became his seventh studio album. As a song, this was one of Burnette’s best, at least according to his most loyal fan base. When performed as a rockabilly patriot, “Soldier of Love” is a true gem that demonstrated why Burnette became one of the favorite songwriters in the music industry. Simple and to the point, Burnette sang this song as if the heart worn on his sleeve were medals of honor.

Top 10 Billy Burnette Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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