Emmylou had worked with Gram Parsons on his albums GP and Grievous Angel. While working with him, she met James Burton and Glen D. Hardin. After Gram died in 1973, she signed with Warner. They told her to get a ‘Hot Band’ and that is exactly what she did.
For Harris, assembling her first Hot Band with legendary guitarist James Burton was a key reason she drew crowds to her early shows after releasing her major label solo debut album in 1975. Burton’s career as a studio musician had already included classic recordings with Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Buck Owens, Johnny Rivers, the Monkees and many others.
“When I first started, nobody did know who I was,” Harris says. “But I felt having James Burton — probably the greatest country guitar player, one of the great guitar stylists in the world — there were people coming just to see him. And that did not bother me at all. In fact, I loved it. It almost took the pressure away.”
James left the band in 1976 and was replaced by Albert Lee, but Burton kept recording with the band until 1981, when they recorded Cimarron.
The Hot Band also participated in a number of outside album projects with producer Brian Ahern, including sessions for Jonathan Edwards, Rodney Crowell, Mary Kay Place, and Jesse Winchester. James remembers the dilemma he faced on the title track to Winchester’s Nothing But A Breeze: “Brian wanted me to play bottleneck on my Tele, but it’s hard to do because of the arch in the round neck. I didn’t have a dobro bar with me, so I asked around and somebody there had a Zippo lighter. I laid the Tele on my lap like a dobro, and played the solo with the Zippo for a slide. It was pretty neat.”
2004 had the first reunion of the original Hot Band including James Burton (electric guitar), Rodney Crowell (acoustic guitar), Hank DeVito (steel guitar), Emory Gordy, Jr. (bass), Glen D. Hardin (piano), and John Ware (drums). The reason for this reunion was the presentation of ASCAP’s prestigious Founders Award to Emmylou Harris.
In 2008 Emmylou headlined the third James Burton International Guitar Festival.
In 2013 ‘Old Yellow Moon’ was released. The album was a collaboration between Emmylou and Rodney Crowell and featured members of the original Hot Band. Produced by Brian Ahern, the album went on to win a Grammy for Americana Album of the Year.
The Old Grey Whistle Test, Vol. 1 (2003)
For better and for worse, The Old Grey Whistle Test was probably the most resolutely serious music program ever broadcast on television. During its 16-year run it showcased only the most earnest exponents of whichever musical style was currently popular, and given that the program’s heyday coincided with the early ’70s, some of the footage included here (e.g., the prog noodlings of the Edgar Winter Group) will provide humor as exquisite as only unintentional comedy can. Contains the performance of Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band from 1976.
1975 Elite Hotel
1975 Pieces of the Sky
1977 Luxury Liner
1978 Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
1979 Light Of The Stable – The Christmas Album
1979 Blue Kentucky Girl
2007 Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems
2013 Old Yellow Moon