Born: January 14, 1948 Primary Instrument: Producer
Despite critical acclaim as a performer, the rootsy singer/songwriter T Bone Burnett earned his greatest renown as a producer, helming recording sessions for acts ranging from Roy Orbison and Elvis Costello to Counting Crows and Sam Phillips. Born Joseph Henry Burnett on January 14, 1948, in St. Louis, MO, he grew up in Fort Worth, TX, soaking in the area's indigenous blend of blues, R&B, and Tex-Mex sounds. Instead of attending college, he opted to open his own Fort Worth recording studio, while also performing in a series of blues bands; in the early '70s he relocated to Los Angeles, producing sessions for Glen Clark and Delbert McClinton.
After recording his own 1972 debut, The B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks, Burnett toured with Delaney & Bonnie before befriending Bob Neuwirth, a singer/songwriter known for his ties to Bob Dylan. Three years later, Dylan invited Burnett to play guitar on his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. After the Revue concluded, he and fellow Rolling Thunder alumni Dave Mansfield and Steve Soles founded the Alpha Band, releasing their eponymous debut in 1977. Spark in the Dark followed later that year, and like its predecessor failed to find commercial favor; when 1978's Statue Makers of Hollywood met a similar fate, the Alpha Band split, and Burnett returned to his solo career. He resurfaced in 1980 with the acclaimed Truth Decay, which, like all of his solo work, found its lyrical center in his spiritual concerns. A move to Warner Bros. followed for 1982's Trap Door EP, and 1983's full-length Proof Through the Night featured guests Pete Townshend, Ry Cooder, and Richard Thompson. Still, commercial success eluded him, and so he continued working as a producer, overseeing highly regarded records like Los Lobos' How Will the Wolf Survive?, Marshall Crenshaw's Downtown, and the BoDeans' Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams.
After recording a self-titled 1986 solo effort, Burnett agreed to produce The Turning, an album for the successful Christian pop singer Leslie Phillips. The album won wide acclaim even from secular outposts, but it was to be Phillips' last overtly religious release; instead, she began performing under her nickname, Sam, and with Burnett's aid landed a deal with the Virgin label for 1987's acclaimed The Indescribable Wow. Prior to recording her 1991 LP, Cruel Inventions, Phillips and Burnett wed, and he remained in the producer's seat for her later efforts, including 1994's Martinis & Bikinis and 1996's Omnipop. Despite his additional success manning albums like Elvis Costello's masterful 1986 effort King of America as well as producing the star-studded 1987 Roy Orbison tribute Black & White Night, Burnett continued his solo career; like earlier efforts, 1988's The Talking Animals won raves from the press but failed to find an audience outside of his devoted cult following. His output dwindled as his production work increased, and only in 1992 did he release a follow-up, the Spartan Criminal Under My Own Hat. Instead, Burnett remained one of the most prolific and distinctive producers of his day, crafting successes like Costello's Spike, Counting Crows' August and Everything After, the Wallflowers' Bringing Down the Horse, and Gillian Welch's Revival.
Burnett's public profile took a huge leap in 2001 when he served as composer and music producer for the Coen Brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? as well as producing the soundtrack album from the film, which became somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, selling close to nine million copies and earning Burnett four Grammys. He partnered with the Coen Brothers to form DMZ Records in 2002, and the label has released several soundtrack albums either produced or executive produced by Burnett, including Cold Mountain, A Mighty Wind, Crossing Jordan, and The Ladykillers. Burnett finally released an album of new original material, The True False Identity, in 2006 on Sony, which that same year also released a 40-song retrospective set spanning Burnett's entire career, Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett. Tooth of Crime followed in 2008 on Nonesuch Records.
January 27, 2004, Burnett was nominated for an Academy Award, along with Elvis Costello in the category of Best Original Song for "Scarlet Tide" from the film, Cold Mountain.
On March 7, 2010, Burnett and Ryan Bingham won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.
Anthony Asquith Award
January 26, 2010, Burnett and Crazy Heart collaborator Stephen Bruton received BAFTA's Anthony Asquith Award for Achievement in Film Music for their work on Cold Mountain.
Critics Choice Awards
January 15, 2010, Burnett and Ryan Bingham were awarded the prize for Best Song at the 15th annual Critics Choice Awards. The awards are bestowed annually by the Broadcast Film Critics Association to honor the finest in cinematic achievement. Burnett and Bingham won the award for writing "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.
Frederick Loewe Award
December 10, 2009, Burnett was presented with the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing, for his work on Crazy Heart, at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Golden Globe Awards
January 17, 2010, Burnett and Ryan Bingham were awarded a Golden Globe in the category of Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.
January 7, 1993, Burnett was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album for The Criminal Under My Own Hat.
February 27, 2002, Burnett won four Grammys for his work on the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, in the categories of Album of the Year, Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
He was also awarded the Grammy as Producer of the Year, Non-Classical.
February 23, 2003, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his work on A Wonderful World from Tony Bennett and k.d. lang.
February 8, 2006, Burnett won a Grammy in the category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, for his work on Walk The Line.
February 8, 2009, Burnett was awarded Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Folk Album for his work on the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album, Raising Sand
Record of the Year for his work on "Please Read The Letter", also from Raising Sand; and Best Traditional Blues Album for his work on B.B. King's One Kind Favor.
December 2, 2009, Burnett was nominated for a Grammy in the categories of Best Contemporary Folk Album and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, for his work on Elvis Costello's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane.
Independent Spirit Awards
March 5, 2010, Burnett and fellow Crazy Heart producers Robert Duvall, Rob Carliner and Judy Cairo, along with director Scott Cooper, received Best First Feature honors at the 25th Annual Independent Spirit Awards.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award
January 16, 2010, Burnett and his longtime friend and collaborator on Crazy Heart, Stephen Bruton, were awarded Best Music Score honors for their work on that film by The Los Angeles Film Critics Association at their 35th Annual Awards Ceremony.
December 20, 2009, Burnett won a Satellite Award from the International Press Academy in the category of Original Song for writing "The Weary Kind", from Crazy Heart, with Ryan Bingham.
Twenty Twenty – The Essential T-Bone Burnett 2006
The True False Identity 2006
The Criminal Under My Own Hat 1992
The Talking Animals 1987
T-Bone Burnett 1986
Behind the Trap Door (EP) 1984
Proof Through the Night 1983
Trap Door (EP) 1982
Truth Decay 1980
The B-52 Band & the Fabulous Skylarks 1972 Compilations Until the End of the World Humans from Earth 1991
Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye - Tribute to Roky
Erickson Nothing In Return 1990 Alpha Band discography The Statue Makers of Hollywood 1978
Spark in the Dark 1977
Alpha Band 1977 Record production discography Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
Soundtrack Producer 2011
TBD Steve Earle
Low Country Blues Gregg Allman
National Ransom Elvis Costello
Producer, Songwriting 2010
The Union Elton John and Leon Russell
Producer, Guitar, Songwriting 2010
The Secret Sisters The Secret Sisters
Executive Producer 2010
Myth Of The Heart Sahara Smith
Junky Star Ryan Bingham
No Better Than This John Mellencamp
We Walk This Road Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Producer, Guitar, Songwriting 2010
Country Music Willie Nelson
Women and Country Jakob Dylan
Crazy Heart Soundtrack
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane Elvis Costello
One Kind Favor B.B. King
akiko Akiko Yano
Life, Death, Love and Freedom John Mellencamp
Raising Sand Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Across the Universe Soundtrack
The Story Brandi Carlile
Thunderbird Cassandra Wilson
Walk the Line Soundtrack
Future Perfect Autolux
A Boot and a Shoe Sam Phillips
The Ladykillers Soundtrack
Cold Mountain Soundtrack
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood Soundtrack
Ralph Stanley Ralph Stanley
A Wonderful World Tony Bennett and k.d. lang
Motherland Natalie Merchant
Fan Dance Sam Phillips
Down from the Mountain Soundtrack
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
Come to Where I'm From Joseph Arthur
Blue Days Black Nights Freedy Johnston
Producer, Optigan 1999
Songs from the Pipe The Surfers
Hell Among the Yearlings Gillian Welch
Horse Whisperer Soundtrack
Clay Pigeons Clay Pigeons
Ole' Tonio K
Producer 1997 (recorded 1990)
David Poe David Poe
Bass, Ukulele, Producer, Fuzz bass, Drones 1997
Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop) Sam Phillips
Producer, Loops 1996
Stealing Beauty Soundtrack
Bringing Down the Horse Wallflowers
Revival Gillian Welch
Sweetie Daniel Tashian
Guitar, Producer 1996
Braver Newer World Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Guitar, Producer, Mixing 1996
Bringing On The Weather Jackopierce
Pretty Little Lonely Michael Petak
Martinis & Bikinis Sam Phillips
Dart to the Heart Bruce Cockburn
Go Slow Down BoDeans
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer 1993
August and Everything After Counting Crows Guitar,
A. J. Croce A. J. Croce
Everything You Want (Nothing That You Need) Seven Stories
Five Easy Pieces Dirty Looks
Lily Wendy Matthews
Break Like the Wind Spinal Tap
Producer, Mixing 1992
Until the End of the World Soundtrack
Vocals, Producer 1991
Cruel Inventions Sam Phillips
Guitar, producer, Chamberlin 1991
Live Two Five Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Nothing but a Burning Light Bruce Cockburn
Shuffletown Joe Henry
Guitar, Percussion, Producer, Drums 1990
My Father's Face Leo Kottke
Organ, Guitar, Producer 1990
Third World Warrior Kris Kristofferson
Guitar, Arranger 1990
Mystery Girl Roy Orbison
Guitar, Producer 1989
Spike Elvis Costello
Guitar, Bass, Producer 1989
Black & White Night: Live Roy Orbison
Guitar, Producer 1989
The Indescribable Wow Sam Phillips
Guitar, Producer 1988
By the Light of the Moon Los Lobos
The Turning Leslie Phillips
Guitar, Producer 1987
Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams BoDeans
Guitar, Producer 1986
King of America The Costello Show
Guitar, Producer 1986
Romeo Unchained Tonio K.
Guitar, Drums, Producer 1986
Peter Case Peter Case
Guitar, Producer 1986
Downtown Marshall Crenshaw
Sitar, Producer 1985
How Will the Wolf Survive? Los Lobos
Organ, Guitar, Producer 1984
Time Step Leo Kottke Producer 1983
Delbert & Glen Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark
Live at the New Bluebird Nightclub Robert Ealey and His Five Careless Lovers
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Producer and Drums 1968
The Van Dykes The Van Dykes
Producer 1966 Film and television discography Tough Trade TV Series
Executive Producer, Music Producer, Composer 2010
Film Producer, Songwriter, Composer 12/19/2009
Across The Universe
Film Music Producer 10/12/2007
All the King's Men
Film Executive Music Producer 9/22/2006
Walk the Line
Film Executive Music Producer, Composer 11/18/2005
Don't Come Knocking
Film Executive Music Producer, Composer 8/25/2005
Film Executive Music Producer 3/26/2004
Film Executive Music Producer 12/25/2003
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Film Composer 6/7/2002
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Film Music Producer, Original Music 12/22/2000
The Big Lebowski
Film Musical Archivist 3/6/1998
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night
TV Special Musical Director 1/3/1988
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