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Born in Arkansas, Billy Don Burns moved to Palm Desert, CA, in 1970 after serving in the United States Army. Although joining a publishing company and having a few songs recorded, Burns moved to Nashville in 1972. With the help of Lynn Owsley, Burns moved into a musician’s boarding house in Nashville. Owsley would often sneak Burns into the Grand Ole Opry while Owsley was one of Wanda Jackson’s backing musicians. In 1972, Burns signed to Wilderness Music. After performing as Hank Williams at Opryland USA in 1973, the singer/songwriter had two songs recorded. One was “Be Alright In Arkansas” by Connie Smith and the other was “I Always Come Back To Loving You” by Mel Tillis.
In 1975, Burns formed the Travis Brothers with Jimmy Getzen, but it was a short-lived project. At the time, Burns performed around various Nashville clubs, opening for Boots Randolph and also Ronnie Prophet. After breaking off a wedding engagement to Lorrie Morgan, Burns started Gypsy Women Music Publishing. The early ’80s saw him touring across North America and having Arkansas governor Bill Clinton proclaim March 27th, 1983, as Billy Don Burns Day. In 1984, he recorded “New Commitments” with Lorrie Morgan and appeared on TNN. In 1990, down on his luck and producing a gospel album as well as a failed album project with prison inmate Johnny Paycheck, Burns saw his career take an upswing when Willie Nelson recorded one of his songs. In 1995, the musician released his debut album, Long Lost Highway, which received critical acclaim in North American and European country music circles. Sammy Kershaw also recorded another of Burns’ songs, “Honky Tonk Boots.” In 1996, teaming up with Hank Cochran, the duo recorded the Desperate Men album. In 2002, Billy Don Burns had his second solo album, Train Called Lonesome, released.