Johnny Burnette Trio – Train Kept A Rollin’

Grease your hair and get the leather jacket…this will be a 1950s weekend at powerpop. I wanted to start it off with a bang. Power Pop Friday will return next week. I know some will see the post and go to the Zeppelin or Aerosmith versions automatically but this version is just as nasty in many ways.

I first heard this song by The Yardbirds and then by Aerosmith. The song was rollin’ in the 50s as well with this Johnny Burnette take of it. I’ve never heard a version that sounded bad. It’s like Johnny B Goode…a rock and roll classic.

Paul Burlison, the Trio’s lead guitarist, had dropped his amp and knocked one of its vacuum tubes loose. When he played through it, he found that his guitar made a new, menacing sound, fuzzy and distorted, and though he repaired the amp, he started deliberately loosening his tube to recreate the sound. That is where the tone started with this song. The song failed to chart.

The song was written by Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay, and Lois Mann, it was originally performed by Tiny Bradshaw’s Big Band in 1951. Johnny Burnette recorded a rock version in 1956, and The Yardbirds popularized the song with their rendition in 1965.

Aerosmith covered it in 1974, often playing the song as their encore in their early years. In the ’60s, Steven Tyler was on the same bill as The Yardbirds for some early shows before Zeppelin.

It was the first song Zeppelin played at their first rehearsal in Soho, their performance of it at the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969 was captured on tape and they were still playing it on their final tour.

On August 14, 1964, Burnette’s unlit fishing boat was struck by an unaware cabin cruiser in Clear Lake, California. The impact threw him off the boat, and he drowned. He had a son named Rocky Burnette who had a hit in 1980 with Tired of Toein the Line.

Watch for Bettie Page in this one!

Train Kept A Rollin’

I caught a trainI met a dameShe was a hipsterAnd a real gone dameShe was prettyFrom New York CityAnd we trucked on down that old fair laneWith a heave and a hoWell, I just couldn’t let her go

Get along, creepy little womanGet along, well, be on your wayGet along, creepy little womanGet along, well, be on your wayWith a heave and a hoWell, I just couldn’t let her go

Well, the train kept a-rollin all night longThe train kept a-rollin all night longThe train kept a-movin all night longThe train kept a-rollin all night longWith a heave and a hoWell, I just couldn’t let her go

We made a stopIn AlbuquerqueShe must’ve thoughtThat I was a real gone jerkWe got off the train at El PasoOur lovin was so good, JackI couldn’t let her goGet alongWell, I just couldn’t let her go

Get along, creepy little womanGet along, well, be on your wayGet along, creepy little womanGet along, well, be on your wayWith a heave and a hoWell, I just couldn’t let her go

The train kept a-rollin all night longThe train kept a-rollin all night longThe train kept a-rollin all night longThe train kept a-rollin all night longWith a heave and a hoWell, I just couldn’t let her go-oh-oh

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

55 thoughts on “Johnny Burnette Trio – Train Kept A Rollin’”

  1. Well, there is speculation that Paul Burleson did not play on the Johnny Burnette version because only
    one string is distorted. If it had been a tube the whole guitar would’ve been distorted. It is believed that Gady Martin is the one playing the guitar and he got the string to distort by raising one of the pickup screws closer to the string.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Burleson quotes on THAT song…different quotes. From the 3 sources I checked it from it listed him as the guitar player on the studio track…not live… unless he didn’t want to admit that.

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  2. Johnny and Dorsey Burnette were Elvis Presley’s neighbors when their families lived in the Lauderdale Courts housing project. Apparently the rest of the neighbors were none too thrilled when the boys would stop playing football and pick up their guitar. I imagine they all changed their tunes (no pun intended) later on.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Sharon…that is a cool story. I’m sure everything was better when a record came out. I only learned about him when his son Rocky had that hit in 1980.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I prefer Johnny Burnett’s version over the rest, by considerable margin. Aerosmith has some great guitar work though. I love how scantily dressed the model is in that live performance. I’m surprised they permitted that back then.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeh for sure. Guess what song I’m listening to on repeat and you just happened to message. Haha. Mate, your recommendation of Fire on the Mountain has yielded great appreciation dividends. This is about as pure and spectacular Es country – rock (Americana) gets. I am in awe of it

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so glad you liked that Matt… it’s so down to earth and has a foot in country and a foot in pop/rock.

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  4. Grady was the best guitar player around that time. It doesn’t surprise me that he came up with that. He and my dad were good friends and played together on Red Foley’ Ozark Jubilee back in the mid-fifties.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was a young child, maybe 2 or 3 when dad and Grady met. He never mentioned how, but it most likely in a studio. When an opening on the Red Foley show in Springfield MO came, Grady called dad and we left that night. We lived in a duplex next to Grady and his family. There are a few videos on youtube of Red singing and showcasing the band. The young dark haired man on fiddle next to Grady is my father. I was about 5 when we left Springfield and came back to Fort Worth.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen those videos before on Youtube of course I would’ve not known to look for your dad at the time, but I will go back and check them out again. I don’t ever remember meeting Grady, but I was a child and I had not been born yet when he came to Nashville. My dad and uncle owned a recording studio for years.

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      1. It’s the video of Red Foley singing ‘The Birmingham Bounce’ Dad is sitting next to Grady. He was around 30 then. He played on the show less than a year and we came back to Texas. Grady tried to get him into the group of Nashville studio musicians but he knew once he did that he would never leave Nashville. So he came back to Texas and became a Light Crust Doughboy instead of a Bob Wills Texas Playboy. My mother put her foot down on that one. Too many wild stories floating around about Bob and the boys, and they were mostly true.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Obviously the roots of rock n roll go back to rhythm and blues with people like Joe turner etc but this Burnette type stuff with all his cohorts (Elvis, Berry, Vincent, Lewis etc ) is what set the world on fire. All those English bands had the slicked hair and black leather going on back in their day.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It took years for me to really get it… but those early guys were every bit as nasty as their later day peers. In tone that is!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. No wonder Rocky called himself ‘the son of rock n roll’. I haven’t yet listened to the Yardbirds take but I like Burnette’s take much better than Aerosmith’s. That video is the best Geritol ad I’ve seen, too!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Gotta agree Dave, I prefer the early take,, it has it all; Geritol ad on a Rand R vid! Betty Page- looks so innocent these days, but I’m sure it was scandalous back then- ‘I mean, good Lord, she is showing off her fishnet clad upper leg area, and she has her shoulders bare! The hussy! Wait till I tell Betty’s priest down at Saint Mary Of The Blessed Pure And Sacred Heart!’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Obbverse…I was busy today and couldn’t get on but I saw where you and Dave mentioned Geritol… and I was thinking…what the hell did I post? I just played it…I must have missed it when I first watched it.
        Bettie was flaunting it!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I just told obbverse….I didn’t get to check the posts today and I didn’t know what the hell you two were talking about Geritol when I checked my phone while moving our stuff… Now I see what you were talking about!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I noticed it right away, thought how weird , did Geritol have its own show back then? I did notice the lady, but didn’t know it was the ‘notorious’ Betty Page

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This was an interesting listen, to all versions. For some reason I’m not familiar with this song, so each version was ‘new’ to me, and all on equal footing. I probably liked Burnette’s and the Yardbirds the best. But it certainly translates well to the Aerosmith and LZ style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised on how many liked that version best also. I needed to check but I don’t think any of them charted. It’s one of those songs that work well live obviously.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know why those later bands coverred it…it’s a great live song for anyone…it’s very aggressive…I don’t know why but the feel of it reminds me of 20 Flight Rock.

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      1. I love tube amps. I only have one at the moment. I bought a 1948 Gibson amp at a yard sale for 10 bucks… I use it some when I record.

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  7. Wow I’m way behind on your posts! The only version I’d heard before was the Aerosmith one. So many cool ones. The Burnette cover is my new favorite, and not because Bettie Page is in the video lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know how you feel about being behind! That moving day and the weekend put me behind. I’m glad you like that version…more people did than I thought would.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes I do them every day. I took August off but other than that I cover something every single day since around 2018.
      Thank you for stopping by.

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      1. Mostly older ones. I was a teen in the 80s but I’m a huge Beatles fan after being introduced by a cousin in the second grade so I usually cover the 50s-90s….but I’m heavy on the 60s and 70s….plus other things with pop culture…movies, tv shows etc.

        I sure will thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will say this though…I’m not a political guy…not a liberal or a conservative. I pretty much don’t like either side.

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