Born on march 28th 1934 in Memphis. His elder brother dorsey has an influence on him, so he start boxing and learning to play the guitar. In the early fifties the Burnette Bros meet a third boxer, the guitarist Paul Burlison (Brownsville, Tennessee, 1929). Around 1953 the three young people start to play Hillbilly . In 1954 in Corinth (Mississipi), Johnny (vocal & rhythm guitar), Dorsey (fiddle bass) and Paul (lead guitar) record a fisrt single producted by Eddie Bond's father. The record is released on the very rare VON 1006 with a fisrt version of "You're Undecided" and "Go Mule Go", two hillbillies written by the Burnette Bros.
The trio go to New York (Sun don't wan't them) to have a contract. The Rock'n'Roll Trio record two singles for Decca on may 7th 1956 at the Pythian Temple of New York: "You're Undecided" and the wild "Tear It Up" (Coral 61651). The drummer is Eddy Grady but on scene the trio play with Tony Austin. The first single coral released on june.
In july (2 to 5), the most important session for the trio is in Nashville. Sixteen legendary titles are cut. First I mention titles inspsirated by Rhythm & Blues: "Chains Of Love" and "Honey Hush" (Joe Turner), "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (Stick McGhee and His Buddies), "All By Myself" and "Please Don't Leave Me" (Fats Domino) and "The Train Kept A Rollin'" (Tiny Bradshaw). Hillbilly is here with "Blues Stay Away From Me" (Delmore Brothers). The other titles, written by the band are splendid too: "Lonesome train", "Sweet Love On My Mind", "Rockabilly Boogie", "Lonesome Tears In My Eyes", "I Just Found You", "Your Baby Blue Eyes", "My Love You're A Stranger" and the sublime "Rock Therapy".
Twelve title are released in December 1956: "Johnny Burnette and The Rock'n'Roll Trio" (Coral CRL 57080). The best single, "The Train Kept A Rollin'" / "Honey Hush", is released on Coral 61719 in October 1956. In those months they often give shows. They're away from the charts but their notoriety let them appering in the movie "Rock Rock Rock" (December 1956) with "Lonesome Train".
The last session for Coral is the 22 march 1957. They record four titles less wild than the others: "Eager Beaver Baby" (great vocal), "Touch Me" (country-rock interpreted by Dorsey), "If You Want It Enough" (medium rock), "Butterfingers" (that would be better without the chorus). The trio definitively split up. at the end of 1957 the two brothers record demos for Ricky Nelson.
Famous songwriters, they record on Imperial on February 1958 under the name of Burnette Bros, "Warm Love" and "My Honey" (Imperial 5509) and two titles you can find on Skyline 1254: "Do Baby Do" and "Boppin' Rosalie". The same year, Johnny signs with Freedom (subsidiary company of Liberty) and records "Kiss Me" (freedom 44001), next in 1959 "Gumbo" / "Me and The Bear" (Freedom 44011) and "Sweet Baby Doll" (Freedom 44017). In 1960 he records a demo for Liberty. This demo is only released in 1980 on the LP "Let's Have A Party" Capitol 046-78 037.
After this, Johnny records variety with country ("Settin' The Woods On Fire"), or rock ("Cincinnati Fireball" with Eddie Cochran playing the guitar?). First hit in july 1960 with "Dreamin'" and "You're Sixteen". In 1961 Johnny has his last success with "Little Boy Sad" and "Big Big World" in the charts. He tries country: "Hello Walls" written by the young Willie Nelson.
Johnny died going fishing on august 1st 1964.