Rusty Burns's interview
by John Molet

Hi Rusty, it's a great honor for "The Road to Jacksonville" (radio show & webzine") and for the french fans to be able to get an interview from you, one of the greatest rock'n roll guitar player ftom the 70's-80's.
First, you may like to know Point Blank is still in the heart of the southern and texas rock fans. The great albums, "First", "Second Season", "Airplay" and "The Hard Way" are considered "references" over here.

Thank you for remembering us and we appreciate your wonderful words.

We don't get som many news from Texas. Can you remind us your musical career, the years in Point Blank, the band split, and the "after Point Blank" years ?
I began playing guitar at the age of five. My father was a very good guitar player so the stimuli was there for me very early on. Around Ft. Worth, Texas I played in many bands throughout my school years and recorded my first record at 15 years old. I started played professionally at 8 years of age and that is all I have ever done as a job description other than owning a recording studio and producing records. This led me to Houston, Texas where I met Bill Ham the manager of ZZ Top. He signed me to a solo artist contract in 1972. I worked with ZZ for a couple of years as a guitar tech while forming what was to become Point Blank. I had played with all of the guys in Point Blank during those couple of years that I worked with ZZ when I wasn't on the road. We became Point Blank on July 19, 1974. We began touring in a big way then. John, Buzzy, Phillip, Kim and I recorded our first record as Point Blank in early 1976. It was released July 4, 1976. We had toured for 2 years wi thout a record deal which was unheard of in those days but we broke some rules and it paid off. From there we toured relentlessly year in and year out, one record and then the other. Phillip left the band in late 1977 or early 78. Bill Randolph replaced him at the same time we broke free from Arista Records and signed with MCA. We were touring and touring, doing at least 260 shows a year. It was torturous but the band was getting very musical and this what we all wanted. We were getting tired of being "just a southern rock band." We felt much more musical than that and it became very boring to be limited to music we had already outgrown. Southern rock was a lot of fun and I wouldn't say anything bad about it but we HAD to grow. A lot of our fans didn't get the changes we were going through but if you aren't growing and evolving why would you want to keep on? I hate anything that gets stagnant not to mention that I felt our musical talents dictated change. It's like the menu at a rest aurant, do you eat the same dish constantly year in and year out or does variety seem infinitely more palatable? We changed musically because we changed as artists.
Continuing to play the same old music would have been a curse to the band as well as a compromise to my own development as a guitar player. I play guitar because of my love for the instrument and for music, I do it for me first. Then it makes it's way to everyone else. I must please myself first with the gift that was given to me. Everyone else's pleasure from my playing will be subjective to me first as I have to live with it the rest of my life and my only choice has to be made as I create it. I don't get another chance to like it so I have to please myself first. You can't go back later after you release a record and say "oops, I didn't mean it."
In 1982 I had a serious sky diving accident and broke my back in three places. As a result of this we had to take some time off while I recuperated from my injuries. During this time some alarming developments with our management came to light. We sued and a very nasty court battle took place. We were ripped off for the name that I came up with. That was the kiss of death for Point Blank. So with that it was over. Money missing, name stolen, publishing problems and being blackballed by certain parties in the business all added up to zero. It was done and couldn't be undone. Since then a few of us continued playing full time as others moved on to other careers that were more lucrative. I began producing bands as well as playing for other artists. I had to find myself during life after Point Blank. It was very hard but had to be done. I played with Shake Russell (former label mate at MCA) for 5 years and produced 2 records for him from 84-88. I played a short stint with Black Oak A rkansas in 90. What a huge mistake but one must live and learn. With that mess behind me I focused on record production.

20 years later, how do you look at your career ? do you have any regrets ?
20 years later I try not to reflect too much on Point Blank's career because it can be painful to see your life long ambition destroyed by greedy people who lie and sneak around ruining lives. It's gone and that's that.

Which kind of musical style do you like today ? Who are (or were) your main influences ?
My influences were: my father Bob Burns, Albert King, Django Reinhardt, Ritche Blackmore, Joe Pass, B.B. King. I loved all styles of music even from an early age and my diet of learning was all inclusive. I just stole licks from anyone I could learn something good from.

Recently, Van Wilks was in France to promote his album. Friends of mine asked him a few questions about Point Blank.
He answered it was a great band. I believe you know and appreciate each other. Tell us about how you met ?

Van Wilks is a great guitar player that I met in Austin just as he was signing with Bill Ham. That was in 1974 I believe. He's a very talented guitarist. He opened lots of shows for Point Blank and was one of but a few artists who made it out of his management deal with his life still intact. Many others were not as fortunate.

How did you create the wonderful guitar parts you and Kim Davis created ?
Kim Davis and I worked long and hard on tying 2 guitars together hopefully to create our own signature. We both shared many common visions of how 2 players should work together. We were both influenced to some degree by Wishbone Ash and their approach. We mainly played what we had flowing from our hearts as we tried to incorporate melodies and not just licks as many 2 and 3 guitar bands at the time. We enjoyed the harmonious approach instead of multiple guitars playing the same lick which was really boring for us.

I was really sad when I learned Bill Randolph passed away. Do you have any news from your ex bandmates Kim Davis, Fabulous John'o Daniel, Buzzy Green, Phil Petty ... ? What did they become after Point Blank ?
Kim now works for Peavey as a national sales representative.
John is currently playing with Bigfoot Johnson and is a professional golfer. He's good too. John had a liver transplant in 1998 and is doing wonderful.
Buzzy is playing with Bigfoot as well. He is the head of the computer tracking center for United Parcel Service.
Phillip Petty owns his own electronics company and has a bunch of kids. He is doing great.
Michael Hamilton is a full time musician and plays with Bigfoot too. Undoubtedly the most gifted player that I know.
As for me, I have been called to the Christian ministry and travel the world doing mission work with the church. I am a born again Christian and work locally with a church here in Ft. Worth that feeds, clothes and ministers to the homeless here and abroad. It wasn't exactly something I planned but it is the will of my heavenly father and has become the most important thing in my life. It's strange how things change over the course of one's life. I have been called by GOD and I am heeding the call with all that I am. By the way, did I mention that the next Point Blank record will be gospel?

Is there a chance we might hear you on an album ?
We are recording as time permits but there are a lot of scheduling nightmares with what everyone is doing. We will get the record out when the time is right.

Can you tell a few words to your french fans ?
France, I thank you for being there for us in the past and in the future. We never made it to your country to play but life is not over yet. I hope to see you someday...until then may GOD bless you.

Rusty, I sincerely thank you for answering theses questions and I wanted to wish you all my best for your carrer.
To you at Road to Jacksonville, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the French people and for keeping Point Blank alive beyond the music... Rusty


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