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Johnny Burnette Trio

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The Johnny Burnette Trio was the name of a rockabilly group which was formed in Memphis, Tennessee during the 1950s. They were also known as “Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio” and the “Rock and Roll Trio”. The members of the Trio were Dorsey Burnette, his younger brother Johnny, and a friend named Paul Burlison. Dorsey and Johnny Burnette were both natives of Memphis, having been born there in 1932 and 1934 respectively. Paul Burlison had been born in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1929, but had moved to Memphis with his family in 1937.

The Brunette brothers were keen amateur boxers and would become Golden Gloves champions. In 1949, Dorsey met Paul Burlison, also a Golden Gloves champion, at an amateur boxing tournament in Memphis. The two became firm friends, and through this friendship Burlison would also meet Johnny Burnette. All three had an interest in music, and in 1951 they began playing together at the hillbilly nightspots on the outskirts of Memphis, both as a trio and as a part of other groups. In these early days, they played a mixture of country and bluegrass, not untainted with cottonpatch blues.

Johnny and Dorsey Burnette were reported to be early performers on the Saturday Night Jamboree, which was a local stage show held every Saturday night at the Goodwyn Institute Auditorium in downtown Memphis in 1953-54. The show was founded by Joe Manuel, who had been a popular Hillbilly radio star of the 1930s and 40s.

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