Brent Burns has spent nearly his entire adult life doing what most people dream about: doing what he loves and making a living. Along the way he has traveled the world, made national and world news and won many awards. But the thing that continues to drive him, he says, is his love of being on stage and making people laugh.
Burns arrived in Gulf Shores in 1972 when the area was a sleepy, little seasonal town with concrete floored honky-tonks and beach cottages. A job preforming for a hotel franchise sent him to the area to perform during the summer season at the Holiday Inn Gulf Shores. Burns recalled how proud the locals were of the hotel: the only building in town with an elevator and the only bar with carpet.
"I was up somewhere in the Midwest, and they said they were going to send me to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Of course, I had to get my map out because I didn't know Alabama had a Gulf Coast. When I drove into town that first time, I just fell in love with the area. It's a memory I'll never forget," Burns said.
His main residence at the time was Pheonix, Arizona but he came back to Gulf Shores every summer, sometimes staying for six months. Then in 1980, he was excited to move to Nashville so he could be closer to Gulf Shores and play there even more. Eventually he started buying property and for the last 30 years, Gulf Shores has been his only home.
Burns picked up the guitar at the tender age of 14 and apart from a stint in the military and two years doing a lecture series, it's the only thing he has ever done.
"I took two years off in the 1990s to due a lecture series at colleges and universities called "Vietnam and American Life in the sixties." It was a slide presentation and I talked about being a combat soldier in Vietnam, being raised in the tumultuous sixties and what it was like. I did that for two years, but the music drew me back in," Burns said.
The music Burns has won his awards for over the years is considered Trop Rock, but he also ventures into country and Americana. The songs that have gotten him national and worldwide attention over the years though haven't been about beachy island life.
"It seems like I have had a connection with oil my entire musical career. I don't know what my affinity for oil is or why I homed in on that but it seems to have served me well," Burns said.
In 1973, during the oil embargo, Burns released "No Crude, No Food," and it got a little air play. During the 1979 Oil Crisis, Burns had a novelty hit called "Cheaper Crude or No More Food." The song was played by Paul Harvey three times on his radio broadcast and became an international hit. He was interviewed by the BBC, US Magazine and The New York Times. He also made TV appearances on "Real People", "Hee Haw" and the "Mike Douglas Show". Then in 2010, during the BP Oil spill, Burns released "If You Drill, Drill, Drill Don't Spill, Spill, Spill."
Music has taken Burns all over the world. This year Burns has already traveled to Mexico where he had three gigs scheduled over four days. Two days after returning home, he flew to Los Angeles to perform at a benefit called Operation Walk. He also acts as a musical tour guide all over the world for groups of his devoted fans. Over the years he and his fans have toured Ireland, Scotland, Italy and France. In August they have booked a cruise down the Danube River.
"I take people who are fans of mine and a few other songwriters, and we go on a tour of different countries. I love taking people I go to these foreign places and watch them enjoy Europe and play music for them. If you have never been to Europe, you never realize how cool it is culturally and how diverse," Burns said.
Burns has no plans to slow down. While he was honored and surprised by being awarded the 2021 Trop Rock Lifetime Achievement award he joked that it was akin to working for a company for 50 years and one day they show you the door and give you a gold watch.
"My life has been pretty doggone fun and full of pretty exciting things. It was a surprise and an honor for sure," Burns said of the award. "Songwriter of the Year is the award that means the most because that is the part of what I do that gives me the most personal pleasure."
You can find Burns wherever there is a good crowd that will listen to his songs and stories.
"It doesn't matter what the geographic location is if they are willing to sit down and listen to my jokes and stories and even better if they laugh. That is where I like to be," Burns said.
To find out where you can see Brent Burns perform live or listen to his music, visit BrentBurns.com.