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About Charlie Burton

Charlie Burton is a musical enigma who has been churning out a steady stream of humor-laden, roots-influenced rock & roll since the early '70s. In a more just world, he would be seen as a cult figure of Alex Chilton proportions, and not a country-inflected novelty artist along the lines of Mojo Nixon. Burton was born in Lincoln, NE, in 1950, attending Antioch College in Ohio where he became friends with Ray Benson, later of Asleep at the Wheel, and Ed Ward, the critic who would go on to become the "rock historian" on NPR's Fresh Air. Prompted by Ward, Burton began his career in the music industry as a critic, first as a Rolling Stone contributor, and then as that publication's country music critic. During the early '70s, Burton lived in Ann Arbor, MI, hanging out with the likes of Rob Tyner of MC5 and attending the Stooges' rehearsal sessions with his pal Steve Mackay, whose saxophone playing is prominently featured on the Stooges' Fun House album.

Burton quit the rock critic profession in 1973. Around that same time, his dad died, leaving Burton the family business, a do-it-yourself Harpsichord kit factory. Burton also started a series of bands. In the late '70s, Charlie Burton & Rock Therapy released their debut 45, "Rock and Roll Behavior." The record, a conflation of Motor City influence and roots rock, topped the Village Voice critic's poll and the group was featured in such publications as Trouser Press and Creem. Burton's debut full-length, Is That Charlie Burton... or What?!?!, came out in 1980. During that decade, Burton and band would release several more LPs. The song "That's Not Polite" was voted Song of the Year in the UK's NME magazine in 1981. Burton's third LP, I Heard That, was produced by Lou Whitney of the Skeletons, and the band supported it through dates with Jason & the Scorchers, X, the Ramones, and the Replacements, among others. Burton dissolved his group and moved to Austin, TX, in the early '90s, hooking up guitarist Evan Johns for some tours and eventually forming the Texas Twelve Steppers, who released their debut, Rustic Fixer Upper, in 1997. One Man's Trash, a retrospective of Burton's 20-plus years as a recording artist, came out in 1999. ~ Erik Hage

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