Several years after graduating from The University of Texas with a marketing degree Burton was not satisfied with his impending conventional job journey. He discovered a meaningful career path at an unlikely place, a coffee house in Houston, Texas. While having a cup of coffee and watching a local singer-songwriter perform beautiful heartfelt lyrics with captivating passion he was inspired to pursue a career in talent representation. How to market an artist from a coffee house to the national stage was a challenge that intrigued and motivated him. Focusing on a new career direction he created Burton Entertainment for public relations and management of artists. He soon became the manager of the successful Texas band St. Elmo’s Fire that composed the music for the ballet “Caliban,” which was performed by the Houston Ballet, Dallas Ballet and the Chicago Ballet companies to critical acclaim. As manager Burton also produced many of the band’s concerts and recording projects.
In 1980 Burton relocated from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles to advance his career of artist representation in music with the goal of expanding into television and film. Once settled in Los Angeles he and legendary engineer/producer Henry Lewy formed a partnership to discover and nurture musical talent. Lewy started in the music business at its infancy working with David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Van Morrison and many others, which offered Burton insightful teachings and opportunities. One of the artists Burton and Lewy signed was singer-songwriter Jude Johnstone, whom they discovered at a small club in Los Angeles on a tip from Jennifer Warnes. Burton began managing Johnstone and Lewy produced her at his home base, A&M studios. Burton executive produced a video of Johnstone’s song “Wounded Heart,” which was ultimately recorded by Bonnie Raitt on her Silver Lining CD. Over the ensuing years a stellar list of recording artists including Stevie Nicks, Bette Midler, Trisha Yearwood, Johnny Cash, Jennifer Warnes, Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris have covered Johnstone’s songs.
Desiring to expand his client roster opportunities Burton pursued a career in the television industry eventually becoming Director of Creative Services for NBC Productions in Burbank, CA. He was responsible for the production of shooting behind the scenes for NBC movies and mini-series. He was also responsible for the publicity of talent in NBC’s movies, specials and all daytime programming. One of the talents he represented was Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, where a long client relationship began. Burton left NBC for CBS Television as Director of Publicity to launch the late night program, “The Pat Sajak Show.” At the end of the show’s run Burton returned to personal artist representation with Sajak, actor Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, MD, How I Met Your Mother), actress Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory) and Johnstone as clients.
On one assignment Burton was a field producer and generated publicity for the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 50th Anniversary in Ashland, Oregon with NBC Television’s “The Today Show.” Impressed with this charming university town nestled in the Siskiyou Mountains he relocated Burton Entertainment from Los Angeles to Ashland in 1995. Burton has represented Sajak for 27 years and has been Johnstone’s manager for 32 years. In 2013 Burton and Evan Archerd created the film production company “Below Stairs Productions” with their first project the documentary “The Man Behind the Music,” a tribute to legendary engineer/producer Henry Lewy.
Name: Bob Burton
Lives in: Ashland, Oregon
Company: Below Stairs Productions
Occupation: Press Agent and Producer
University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)