Billy’s songwriting career
Born in Memphis, Billy spent most of his life in the presence of father Dorsey and uncle Johnny (of the legendary Rock and Roll Trio). The Trio made the term “Rockabilly” famous by combining the names of Billy and his cousin Rocky for the 1953 “Rockabilly Boogie”, thus making the term a household name. Recounts Billy, “I met Paul McCartney once and he said the Trio were one of his and John’s influences - nobody was making music like that.”
Billy has amassed 4 decades of experience recording music, writing songs, and performing since embarking on his career at age 7. His first single, “Hey Daddy”, was for Dot Records.
When he was only 11, he recorded several songs on A&M Records. By 13, the young Burnette was entertaining troops with Brenda Lee in the Far East.
When he was 15, he picked up a guitar and began writing songs. Heavily influenced by the Beatles, Delaney, Bonnie & Friends, and his dad’s music, Billy was learning the craft from some of the greats. “It’s really funny, but I grew up thinking that everyone wrote songs. I mean, my Dad did it, my Uncle did it....” One week out of high school, he recorded his Columbia Records album with famed hit-making producer Chips Moman. In 1980 he made the biggest solo recording deal in history with Columbia. Shortly after that he met Mick Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac) at an American Bandstand party. They became fast friends and formed the band “Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo” in 1983. It was a star-studded jam band, sometime joined by Stevie Nicks, Roy Orbison, Bob Seger, Eddy Van Halen and others. During that time, Billy expanded his solo career and constantly penned new tunes while introducing Country music to a new sound. In 1985 he was nominated as “Best New Male Vocalist” by the Academy of Country Music.
Mick Fleetwood called while Billy was cutting “Dream You” with Roy Orbison, asking him to join Fleetwood Mac. They toured from 1987-1995, appearing on many huge hit albums. During this time Billy’s songs were also being recorded by Roy, Ray Charles, Rod Stewart, Cher, Faith Hill, Greg Allman and others.
When he returned to Nashville with a Warner Bros. recording contract, he re-entered the Country charts with his single “Tangled Up in Texas”. In 2003 he co-wrote “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” for Ray Charles’ last album “Genius Loves Company”, sung by Ray and Bonnie Raitt. Nominated for 10 Grammys, it was awarded Album of the Year.
In 2006 Billy recorded “Memphis in Manhattan” at St Peter’s Church. Several of the tunes were co-written with Shawn Camp. The two collaborated again on “Bluegrass Elvises”, which rose to the Top 5 on the Americana charts. Shawn, Dennis Morgan and Billy
wrote the huge hit “River of Love”, George Strait’s 44th Number One single.
Recently he’s toured with Bob Dylan and John Fogerty. He’s working on a new solo album and continues to write, record and perform.