David Paul Burlison, a rock guitarist who inspired many of the world’s best musicians, died on Sept. 27 of cancer. He was 74.
When Burlison’s family moved to Memphis in 1937, he developed a passion for music. At eight, he taught himself how to play the guitar, and eventually built his own homemade electric guitar. Burlison dropped out of high school, learned how to box, did a stint in the Navy then played with several hillbilly bands. In 1953, he teamed up with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette to form the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio. The group produced more than a dozen records, including the rockabilly hits “Tear It Up,” “Honey Hush,” “Lonesome Train” and “Rock Therapy.”
Burlison’s impact on rock ‘n’ roll became apparent in the 1960s and 1970s. The Yardbirds, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith all played cover versions of his songs, which were known for their memorable guitar riffs and a primitive buzz sound.
For the past 20 years, Burlison has performed with the Sun Rhythm Section. He recently recorded the album, “Rock-A-Billy Country,” with W.S. “Fluke” Holland and Jerry Lee “Smoochy” Smith.