Country Boy Eddie
Gordon Edwards Burns, known as Country Boy Eddie or sometimes Country Boy Eddy (born December 13, 1930 near Warrior) is a country singer, fiddler and guitarist who hosted the long-running Country Boy Eddie Show on WBRC-TV from 1957 to 1993.
Burns, one of eight children raised on his family's 200-acre Blount County farm, had determined to work in radio since he was a 10-year-old listening to Curley Fox on the Grand Ole Opry. At 13 he bought a fiddle with money he raised selling Garden Spot Seeds door to door. He taught himself to play the fiddle and joined Happy Hal Burns' band in 1946, playing on WBRC-AM's Crossroads Variety Show. It was Burns (no relation) who gave him his nickname.
Burns served in the US Army during the Korean War and sang on the Armed Forces Radio Network in Korea, Japan and Hawaii. He returned home to Happy Hal's band, touring for a few years and making appearances on shows like "Hillbilly Bandstand". He caught the ear of Bill Monroe and finally made his own appearances on the Grand Ole Opry program.
Burns soon married and settled in Birmingham. He took a job as a disc jockey for program director Warren Musgrove at WILD-AM. In a staged stunt, Musgrove "fired" him for bringing a mule into the studio, and Burns rode out and proceeded as far as Alabaster. Besides WILD, Burns also worked for WLBS-AM and WLPH-AM. In addition he appeared at as many as 500 live performances per year and operated a water park, Waterfalls USA near his cattle ranch in Blount County.
In 1955 Burns put together his own band for the first "Country Boy Eddie Show" at midnight, after wrestling on Saturday nights, on WAPI-TV (Channel 13). Two years later, the band was hired as the stage band for the Tom York Morning Show on WBRC-TV. In February 1957 the more familiar Country Boy Eddie Show was spun off into its own slot weekdays 5:00 to 7:00 AM. On Mondays and Tuesdays in 1961 and 1962 he would drive to Nashville to tape a week's worth of morning shows for a station there. He introduced a young Dolly Parton to audiences there and also had Pat Boone and Eddy Arnold on the show.
Burns' homespun amiability became a familiar part of the morning for many Birminghamians, and was syndicated around the region by as many as 120 cable channels. The show endured for 38 years. Burns retired after the December 31, 1993 broadcast.
Since retirement, Burns continues to make public appearances. Until her death in 2016 he lived with his wife, Edwina, on a 200-acre farm in Blount County. They attended Piney Woods Baptist Church in Gardendale and had one son, Doyle, and three grandchildren.
Burns was given the 2001 Media Award from the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
- Country Boy Eddie (1960) "Hang in There Like a Rusty Fish Hook"/"Fodder's Fossil Blues" (single) Reed Records 1031.
- Bryant, Walter (September 28, 1993) "Country Boy Eddie ending long TV career." The Birmingham News
- Harvey, Alec (December 28, 1994) "Eddie's hanging up his hat: New Year's Eve is Country Boy's last day on the air." The Birmingham News
- Carlton, Bob (May 7, 1997) "Eddie, Fodder Fossil, still busy as red ants in a barrel of syrup." The Birmingham News
- Reynolds, Ed (June 20, 2002) "BBC to Beam Country Boy Eddy to the World". Black & White
- Reynolds, Ed (December 23, 2010) "The One-Time King of Local Country Music". Black & White