Country music legend Gordon Edwards Burns, known to many as "Country Boy Eddie," has died. He was 92. According to an online obituary, Burns "passed away peacefully at home" on Friday, Jan. 13. Burns was well-known for his country music radio and television work in Alabama, as well as for being an early supporter of iconic artists such as Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. He also interviewed a number of major celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.
In a statement shared by the Birmingham Real-Time News, Burns' family said, "He was a trailblazer for both the Alabama music and television scenes, and his contributions will continue to live on." The statement added, "The Burns family would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the viewers, fans, musicians, and everyone else who made his life so special." A memorial service will be held later this week.
I am so saddened to hear of the death of Birmingham TV legend Country Boy Eddie. He was on the air for 37 years.— James Spann (@spann) January 13, 2023
One of my favorite CBE memories was in March 1993, when I had to host his program during a generational blizzard. Bill Castle shot this video in 2013... pic.twitter.com/v66RKG8dho
Burns' show ran from the late 1950s until the early 1990s. In excerpts from a post-retirement interview — as published by Birmingham Real-Time News — Burns joked, "I used to have to go to bed at 6:30 at night. I never did see the 10 o'clock news until I retired." Speaking about his retirement, Burns said, "I'd always said that some day I was going to take a year's vacation... It was hard for me to make up my mind to quit, but once I did I was really sold on it." He later joked, "I never dreamed I could make as much money as I have. Why, I never even thought I'd be able to buy a new car."
Following the news, many of Burns' fans have shared sympathy messages on social media. Meteorologist and podcast host James Spann wrote on Facebook, "This is very sad news... I watched Eddie as a child before school every morning... and later would have a great relationship with him while we worked together at WBRC. He brought many smiles to many faces."
Spann added, "Country Boy Eddie was the last survivor of the generation of Birmingham television broadcasters that paved the way for people like me. We have lost Joe Langston, Pat Gray, Tom York, Wendell Harris, Bill Bolen, Cousin Cliff Holman, and Sergeant Jack (Neal Miller) among others. Eddie was pioneer, and had a remarkable 37 gear career. I cherish the years we spent together at WBRC; a cowbell ring and mule call is in order!"