Drummers seem to always get the lowest billing. Hidden as they are behind showboat singers and theatrical guitarists, the spotlight always seems to evade them. For Robert Lewis Burns, Jr. (November 24, 1950-April 3, 2015), obscurity was compounded by competing with guitarists behind some of the most memorable licks and solos in rock. And it didn’t help that he left the band before it started opening for mega bands like The Who and Rolling Stones.
But Burns was rightfully on stage when surviving band members collected their honors at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. After all, he had been with the band since the beginning, putting in long hours in “Hell House,” a stiflingly hot Jacksonville shed where the group perfected its songwriting and musicianship. And he was there for the first two albums, “Pronounced’ Leh-‘Nerd ‘Skin-‘Nerd” and “Second Helping,” which included the hits “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Bob Burns gets back behind the drums for “Sweet Home Alabama” at The 12o Tavern in Marietta, GA. The singer is Artemus Pyle, the drummer who replaced him in 1974.
I always like to hear musicians talk about their work and the other musicians they work with. Here, Burns humbly explains how he got a writing credit on “Mississippi Kid.”