100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

20

James Burton

Sims/Redferns

James Burton mainly plays a dark-red '53 Fender Telecaster that he bought in a Louisiana music store when he was thirteen. He's performed a lifetime's worth of hot licks and fluid solos on it, on songs such as Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q" and Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou." As an in-demand Sixties sessionman, Burton played often-uncredited guitar and Dobro on countless records by artists ranging from Buck Owens and Buffalo Springfield to Frank Sinatra. In the Seventies he anchored the touring bands of Elvis Presley and Emmylou Harris. Burton's country-rock style combines flatpicking and fingerpicking; he's also a master of a damped-string, staccato-note "chickin' pickin'."

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