He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

My Daddy was a musician, and I’ve gotta tell you that growing up the daughter of a guitar picker made for a very unique childhood. I played paper dolls in front of Peavey amps, dodged mic stands and snaking cables, and was a part of this incredibly talented, large extended family known as “The Band.”    Times spent with the band often included other musicians, who would often come to “sit in and pick a little.”

See, the thing about music is – at least in these parts – it unites people. Musicians always seem to be interconnected in odd and various ways, forming this rich, idiosyncratic culture where each is somehow familiar with the other.   I’ve always referred to this complex series of acquaintances as the “Brotherhood of The Rhythm,” and one of those Brothers is Rogersville native Barry Byrd Burton.

Now, I don’t remember much about Byrd.  All I have are stories from Daddy and “The Band” about Friday night jam sessions and Dixie Queen hotdogs.

Byrd left Rogersville  when I was quite young and  landed in Memphis where he worked as a studio session player. It was there that he was recruited by bassist Jeff Davis and drummer Butch McDade and Russell Smith of the The Amazing Rhythm Aces.   Burton joined the band in the studio and on the Stacked Deck album tour. He stayed for awhile, contributing his talents to Toucan Do It Too, before leaving the band in `77-`78. He went on to become a renowned session musician in Nashville because, as Daddy says, Byrd Burton could play anything you put in from of him and make it sound good.

Dad kept up with Byrd somewhat through kinfolk: but seemed shocked yesterday when I forwarded him an email I’d received from Mark D.

I’ll share the email with you here:

Good Morning Everybody:
First, let me apologize for this blanket email, but to contact each of you individually in the limited time available would be prohibitive. Also, this message is a little lengthy but very important…if you can take a few minutes please read to the end! It concerns someone who is a friend to most of us.
Rogersville Native Barry Byrd Burton needs some assistance. For those that are getting this that might not know Byrd, he’s been a musician for a LOOOONG time. Sorry Byrd, but we’re old! He’s helped us out on the Rogersville 4th of July before, and was the key member of The Amazing Rhythm Aces when they were together. Read his sister Luan’s email below, it tells the details better than I could. Then please read below her message.

Good Morning,
Some of you may not know, my brother, Barry, was diagnosed with
Myleodysplastic Syndrome in May 2007 and informed this month the leukemia has returned. His only chance for survival, even though a slim chance, is induction chemotherapy to try to get the leukemia in remission, followed by a stem cell transplant. He will be at Vanderbilt Hospital approximately 6 months.

Many of you may not know what Myleodysplastic Syndrome is. It is a rarer form of blood cancer with very little available to treat it. He has already been through the only treatment, which is a particular kind of chemo, and a clinical trial of growth inhibitors to try to get his marrow to produce. Basically, his bone marrow just doesn’t produce blood anymore. The doctors feel this is a result from the chemo he had when he had leukemia in 1999. Just to give you an idea, he has been in the hospital 30 times since August 2007 and received 59 pints of red blood cells and 165 units of platelets. He goes to the doctor every week and now, seems to need a blood transfusion every week. The doctor says they will continue to get more frequent and eventually won’t work without the stem cell transplant.

Many of you who knew he was sick have asked what you can do to help. We have been reluctant to ask for anyones help until now, but as you can imagine, his medical bills are astronomical and we are still trying to pay for medical expenses from 2007 and find ourselves in a new year, with co-pays starting over again. He has no prescription medical coverage and Vanderbilt has told us we need to have $35,000 deposited with them to cover his prescriptions for the 6 months following the transplant before they will begin the process.

A fund raising account has been set up at First Tennessee Bank for people who would like to make tax deductible charitable donations to help with his medical expenses. If you know anyone that has been asking how they can help and want to make monetary donations, here is the info:

Name of Account: The Barry “Byrd” Burton Benefit Fund

1. Go into any First Tennessee Bank across the state to make deposit into the fund
2. Mail checks to: First Tennessee Bank, 429 West Main Street
, Hendersonville, TN 37075

Contributions are tax deductible. Please keep copies of canceled checks for your records when filing 2008 Tax Returns.

Please forward this e-mail to anyone you know that might be willing to help.

Bubber (Byrd) and I CANNOT TELL YOU how much we appreciate the out pouring of care, support, phone calls, e-mails, cards, letters and prayers for him. It has truly been AMAZING!! (Now there’s another meaning to “The Amazing Rhythm Aces” for me.)

Please add him to your prayer request list at church and keep him in your prayers.

Trusting in Christ!

I first learned about Byrd’s condition through Jonathan Harrington, who has also helped us with buttons and badges for the 4th of July Celebration. Amazing Rhythm Ace’s member Jeff asked Jonathan to try to gather some ideas for a possible benefit event for Byrd, and Jonathan called me. I told him I’d put the word out and see what ideas we could generate.

That’s where you all come in. If you have any ideas, contacts, suggestions, or would like to help, please respond to this email and also if possible copy Jonathan.

Jonathan and Jeff have in mind some sort of musical event, possibly an all-day affair. Where? Who? When? That’s what we need some ideas on.

Again, I apologize for the blanket email and the length of it. I hope you give this some thought and get back to us. I appreciate it very much!

Mark D

Now, Brotherhood, although many of you have ventured off in different directions and the journey has taken you far from home, I know there is this sense of coming from the same place. And if you all get together $35,000 and then some ain’t too heavy – at least not for a brother. So, think about it – and if you can help or you come up with a great idea: send it to Mark D. at mark[at]compuplusonline[dot]com and cc Jonathan at jonathan[at]infocs[dot]com.


7 thoughts on “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

  1. I certainly will get the word out.
    I kinda knew Barry and Doug and Terry before they moved to Knoxville and formed the “Loved Ones”. They were the first rock band in Rogersville. “Terry and the Casuals”…….the Ventures and all that.
    Who is your Dad?

  2. David:
    Thank You for helping spread the word!
    My daddy is Doug Gibson. And if you’ve ever got the time, I’d love to hear some of your recollections about the music scene in Hawkins County. I think this is a story worth recording: folks would be shocked (or inspired) by how many of you boys went on to do great things with your talents. You can email me at demarcationville[at]gmail[dot]com or through MySpace. My URL is http://www.myspace.com/gibsonherrell
    I checked out the Hyderboy video, by the way – uh wow, not bad for a rocket scientist.

  3. Just to keep you informed, we’re progressing with getting an even together. We’ve got interest from several groups and musicians, including Billy Greer (Kansas). Thanks for helping us spread the word.

    We also learned of donations coming in to the fund. Sun Records has given a VERY significant amount, and several guitar companies are pitching in.

    ANY amount will be appreciated!

  4. Not only does he have a son, I am Barry’s granddaughter. I have not had the pleasure to get to know him. In fact, I have only met him few times as a small child. It hurts me to know that I may never have the chance to do this. So, as my father has written, thank you for your prayers and please continue doing so. I strongly believe my my grandfather’s life is in God’s hands and have faith in him to intervene. again. thank you.

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