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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

J. Burton & Roy Nichols

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by txjonc, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. txjonc

    txjonc Tele-Meister

    Sep 4, 2003
    Arlington, TX
    There is a nice little interview with James Burton in the new Guitar Player Mag ( the one with Tim Farris on the cover ). He talks about recording Mama Tried with Roy Nichols and recording with Ralph Mooney.

  2. tdowns

    tdowns Former Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    You've got to be kidding. Guitar Player Mag has country song content? Hold on. I'm going outside to make sure the earth is still revolving on its axis correctly.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Dirt

    Dirt Tele-Meister

    Jul 9, 2003
    Thanks for the heads-up, txjonc!

    Terry, if you find out anything about the Earth, LMK, I'm so far up in the sticks I won't find out for days, maybe even weeks...

    Happy holidays,

  4. rockycreeker

    rockycreeker Tele-Meister

    Mar 25, 2003
    Better than Nothing

    I still (sadly) subscribe to GP and got my issue today. It is a very short little article, but yes JB does mention that he played dobro on Mama Tried and that RN played electric. That mag (GP) has really gone down in quality in the last several years - but I still subscribe - I renew every year through for about $15.00 - cheaper than going through GP itself.

  5. div

    div Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2003
    noo yawk
    Say, there was a long post on the TDPRI when it was in the old format where someone went through which '60's Haggard songs featured Burton and which featured Nichols, and it had a bunch of other info about tele players in the Bakersfield scene and who played on what. I can't remember who wrote it, it was posted in around 2001 I think. It used to be saved or cached somewhere on the net but I can't find it.

    Anyone remember that or happened to have saved it? Is the author still here?

  6. tdowns

    tdowns Former Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    I don't know about the post you are talking about, but I have collected some info from Roy, Norm Hamlet, and Ralph Mooney over the years. Ralph was a great resource for information since he was playing steel on those old sessions. I have some of the info I got from Ralph in the history section of the tablature book that comes with the Roy Nichols DVD. After knowing which ones they played on, you can go back and listen. It is easier to pick out who is who on your own once you learn the differences.

    James played the resophonic guitar (fretted Dobro) on the Mama Tried intro, and Roy played electric lead.

    The biggest surprise is that Phil Baugh played on Swinging Doors.

    James played on the Fugitive album and the Bottle Let me Down. The Fugitive album has a lot of crazy pre-bend and release stuff by Burton. I spent a many hour with that album, trying to pick those parts way back then (thinking it was Roy, not knowing any better).

    I guess it is most well known that James played on Working Man Blues. One other cool piece of info, according to Bonnie Owens, who said the railroad spike sound on Workin' Man Blues was a glass ashtray struck by a screwdriver!! (with reverb added of course)

    I told Norm that I thought James played on Big Time Annie's Square, and he agreed.

    There's more about this in my old brain, but I can't remember anymore at this point. I'll need to go back and look at my collection to refresh my memory.

  7. Here's the link..


    Posted by T.J. on February 16, 1999 at 17:26:11:

    Hello y'all,

    Sorry about the caps and exclamation marks, but since Burton's playing with Haggard is my all-time favourite Burton stuff, I felt like I had to speak out on this after reading about the confusion there still is on the Burton vs. Nichols thing.

    The whole Fugitive album is all James. Roy who had up until that point done all the Haggard sessions except the first one for Tally records and the Swingin' Doors session (which has Phil Baugh on guitar), went back to Las Vegas to play with Wynn Stewart again.

    I read a post on Phil a few posts down. He was amazing and one of the unsung Bakersfield guitar originators. Ralph Mooney played steel on pretty much everything. The Strangers with the Roy Nichols/Norm Hamlett tandem didn't really originate until quite a while later.

    Anyway, the first session Burton did was the session that produced The Bottle Let Me Down. It must also be noted that all the trademarks of the Haggard era style up until the turning point of, say, Okie, didn't showcase at all until Baugh BUT especially Burton entered the field. I'm of course referring to the chicken' pickin' and bending stuff. Not to take anything away from Roy, but Burton made the blueprint.

    James did the whole "Fugitive" album including such staples as The Fugitive, Skid Row, All Of Me, and so on. Roy re-entered the picture shortly after the album was released and from then on, up until the early '70s, Roy and James shared the guitar duties, with Burton often playing Dobro. Roy plays the lead electric guitar on Mama Tried, Branded Man, and others. Burton still did quite a bit of the electric stuff too.

    On some tracks they both play electric, and that means PARTY TIME! Best example is the outrageous I'm Bringing Home Good News. Burton stayed on board pretty much until the early '70s. Yes, he DID play on Workin' Man Blues, and in fact played the same solo as he did on Ricky Nelson's version of Milkcow Blues, some ten years earlier.

    Roy Nichols has never denied this or had any ego problems about it. When Burton asked Haggard why Nichols let him play that much, Haggard just said: "Man, cause he just loves to watch you play!" I think it's a classic case of INNOVATIVE behaviour that only the truly greatest musicians like Roy are capable of. Although both veterans, Roy was clearly the senior and I think him allowing Burton to develop that much made him a big contributor and co-developer of that style. It's a classic case of young energy guided by true, if you like nurturing, veterans. These people needed each other. Something special was going on and you don't mess with magic!

    I think you also have to take into account that Roy by that time already didn't have to prove himself that much anymore. He was already a veteran more than having done his share to have earned his credibility, having played with many of the greats, like for instance Lefty Frizzell. When Roy's playing really blossomed with the Strangers in the early 70s he much more played in the amazing Country-Jazz style that he had helped pioneer and master in the Late '40s when playing with the Maddox Bros. and Rose and the Trading Post Band. It's also interesting to note that with them, he already played like Scotty Moore, some 6 years before Scotty did! BTW, his Jazz playing is as good as Bryant's.

    And for what it's worth, Roy's chicken' pickin' wasn't any less than Burton's. I personally even prefer Roy live version of the guitar break from Workin' Man Blues, and James is my IDOL! Anyway, so there it is, if anybody believes otherwise that's fine by me, this is just what I have made out of it reading books and interviews with all those guys. BTW, Burton also played on some Buck Owens stuff like Open Up Your Heart. Same story really.

    I don't think this takes away anything from Nichols, he's still an incredible player and proved himself on more than a million other records to be every bit as talented as Burton. Just not those couple of records. For instance check out Nichols' playing on the live albums Fighting Side Of Me, Okie From Muskogee and I Love the Dixie Blues. It's mindblowing! His sound is much bigger and far less tinny than Burton's. I in fact prefer it, and it also shows where Buchanan got some of his tricks. Burton used his out of phase setting quite a lot too, on the aforementioned sides. Oh well. Hope this helps.




    Johnny Isaacs

  8. gls500

    gls500 Tele-Holic

    Oct 7, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Threads like this are why I love this place.

    Thanks as always, Johnny and Terry.

  9. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    You ain't whistlin' "Dixie" on that. I have virtually every GP from '74 to the present. That is a pretty good pile of them. This must be something like the 2 or 3rd article about James Burton. If GP doesn't watch it, they'll overexpose him.

    I've never met Mr. Burton. But I did hear him talk on a Chicago radio station for a hour or so one night last summer. The man sounds approachable. I'm pretty sure that his lack of appearances in GP is not his doing.

    And to top it off...

    an interview with him and there is no talk about Telecasters? There may be people as equally associated with the Telecaster as James Burton...but nobody is more associated with it.

    Oh, no wait. I will have to take that all back. I see that "Tim Farriss' Tattered Fender Telecaster" made the cover. :rolleyes:

    Maybe I'm just living on the other side of the "gap." ;)

  10. tdowns

    tdowns Former Member

    Nov 8, 2003
    So, who is TJ ????

    It appears as if we have the same information. Is he stiil on the TDPRI?

    I'd sure like to chat with him!!!

  11. sequencepro

    sequencepro Tele-Meister

    Dec 2, 2005
    Savannah Georgia
    Man, It's threads like these that make this site #1!
    Thanks a million for the info on two of my tele-heros!

  12. Elviscaster

    Elviscaster TDPRI Member

    Apr 16, 2003
    What about an interview

    Just an idea. Is there someone on our board who can approach James to do an interview. How bout, Redd, Bill Hewitt, Johnny Issacs, I hope I'm not leaving anyone out or anyone that knows him. Maybe we could get him to join this board; the credibility goes without saying. Maybe Paul could do it or Fuzzy. See ya. Shel

  13. div

    div Tele-Meister

    Mar 18, 2003
    noo yawk
    thank you guys. I can't believe it was '99, time flies.

  14. txjonc

    txjonc Tele-Meister

    Sep 4, 2003
    Arlington, TX
    If you need to know something about music history, Telecaster or just music, the TDPRI is the place to start, between Terry, Johnnie, Fuzzy and all the other great guys and gals on this site, someone will know what you are looking for.

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