Jethro Burns Biography
Influential country humorist/parodist and jazz mandolin player. Born Kenneth Charles Burns March 10, 1920, Burns began playing mandolin when he was six. He met Henry Haynes at an amateur talent contest at WNOX in Knoxville in 1932. Both 12-year-old boys were disqualified for sounding too professional but were hired as studio musicians. The two formed a duet in which they sang pop songs in a comical fashion. They were mistakenly introduced on the radio as "Homer and Jethro," and the name stuck. The pair performed together for 39 years until Haynes' death in 1971, after which Burns performed with his own jazz ensemble (the Jethro Burns Quartet), with other jazz musicians, with his brother-in-law Chet Atkins, and with folk singer Steve Goodman. Burns died of prostate cancer on February 4, 1989. Homer and Jethro were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.