James Burton

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
  • Category:
    Musical Excellence


A self-taught teenage revelation, James Burton invented the chicken pickin’ style.

The style of his own invention became a trademark of the country sound and shaped rock guitar. He has backed everyone Jerry Lee Lewis to Elvis Costello.

Hall of Fame Essay


Ben Fong-Torres

He’s there in all those scenes in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in the late Fifties, when the Nelsons’ younger son, budding teen idol Ricky Nelson, would sing and the girls would swoon: James Burton was the lanky guitarist behind Ricky, an easy smile on his face as he accompanied the kid’s rockabilly and pop tunes. 

With Burton as his musical anchor and his dad, Ozzie, putting the power of prime-time tele­vision behind him, Ricky offered up a tamer-looking version of Elvis Presley. But with Ricky’s straightforward readings and his band’s solid backup, the music was authentic. John Fogerty heard it. “ ‘Stood Up,’ ” he says, “is such a great lesson in rockabilly. I still get excited just thinking about how good that song is. James starts out with his funky rhythm deal. . . “

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program Cover 2001
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