Anthony Burger - Talented Pianist & Composer
In Loving Memory June 5, 1961 - February 22, 2006
Anthony Burger was born on June 5, 1961, to Richard and Jean Burger in Cleveland, TN. When Anthony was just eight months old, as he was learning to walk in a walker, one of the wheels of the walker got caught on the furnace grate, and the walker turned over, throwing him down on the heater. He sustained third-degree burns throughout his legs, face, and hands. He had to be carried on a pillow for an entire year, during which time he received three medicated baths a day for the burns. Doctors who treated him said he would never be able to move his hands. But God had a plan for his life and his hands. At age 3, Anthony played his first song, The Old Rugged Cross, and was just five years old when he became the youngest student ever to be accepted by the Chattanooga Cadek Conservatory.
Playing the piano was more than just a job for Anthony Burger. It was a way of life, as well as a blessing, privilege, and a direct gift from God. As a young teenager, barely 16, he joined one of Gospel music's most popular quartets, The Kingsmen, and by the age of 17, was nominated as one of the Top Five pianists in Gospel music. In fact, he earned that Award from subscribers of The Singing News Magazine for 10 consecutive years, from 1980 through 1989, before the Award became known as the Anthony Burger Award.
Countless awards, accolades, and honors flowed his way. Anthony devoted his life to Gospel Music. He traveled nationally and internationally, sharing his unique musical gift in small country churches, sold-out arenas, and concert halls night after night. He was thrilled to perform at the White House, as well as several Billy Graham Crusades.
Shortly after leaving The Kingsmen and embarking on his own solo career, he began traveling with Bill Gaither, serving as pianist for the Gaither Vocal Band, the Gaither Trio, and the Gaither Homecoming Friends. He was a Dove Award nominee for Instrumental Album of the Year and was endorsed by Steinway & Sons.
Gospel music was, indeed, a way of life for Anthony, but perhaps it could be said that it was more than a way of life - it truly WAS his life. He traveled quite possibly as much or more than any other Gospel musician. His performances exceeded 250 each year, and he loved every moment on the road, on stage, sitting at the piano.
Anthony died suddenly during a piano performance on Wednesday evening, February 22, 2006, aboard a Caribbean cruise as it sailed in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the official medical examiner's report, Burger's heart simply burst. He was on board the ms Zuiderdam with his wife LuAnn, Bill & Gloria Gaither, many of his Homecoming friends, and more than 1500 passengers, doing exactly what he loved best, playing the piano. He was only 44 years old. He is survived by his wife, LuAnn, two sons, A.J. and Austin; one daughter, Lori; parents, Richard and Jean, as well as two brothers, Randy and Clinton; and a host of family and friends who loved him dearly.
His life could easily be summed up with a quote that he himself once stated,
"I am a simple man with a majestic instrument and the power of God behind me."
That's the life he lived. That's the life he loved, and that's the legacy he leaves.
".....pianos of Earth must now cry as they say goodbye to a master." PHIL CROSS
ABPTribute - Goodbye Anthony John Burger
A special memorial service for Anthony Burger was held on March 1, 2006, at Christ Church in Nashville.
Anthony and LuAnn Burger's daughter, Lori, sang It Won't Rain Always. The Homecoming Friends Choir leads the congregation's in Amazing Grace. Then the choir, featuring Ivan Parker, sang Beaulah Land. Ben Speer was featured on Unclouded Day,. Then Lynda Randle performed God On The Mountain. It is Well With My Soul featured Larry Ford and David Phelps. Tributes were offered by John Fisher. And Anthony's niece, Tabitha Huff.
Russ Taff shared a story about Anthony falling off the stage,. Piano bench and all, during a Kingsmen concert.
Russ says Anthony climbed back up onto the stage,.. Took a bow.. And got a standing ovation!
Bill Gaither said Anthony Burger was a genius. Gaither told a story about Anthony thinking quickly.. And filling in for David Phelps. It seems that Phelps was on the GVB bus..and didn't make it to the stage in time for his solo performance. As David's music track started to play... there was no David. Anthony jumped in and did the "piano only" version of Phelps' song. Again... AB got the standing ovation!
A video presentation was offered.. Anthony Burger was playing I'm Getting Ready To Leave This World. The crowd at Christ Church.. Stood to offer their applause at the end of the clip.
Charlotte Ritchie, Ivan Parker, and The Homecoming Choir then sang Tell Me the Story Of Jesus. Jessy Dixon sang What Are They Doing In Heaven. Johnathan Martin, Joyce Martin, and Charlotte Ritchie were featured on Rock of Ages. David Phelps and the Gaither Vocal Band performed These Are They? Dean Hopper gave out a shout.. And the worship started! It was a wonderful time! There wasn't a dry eye in the building.
A memorial message was delivered by Pastor Dan Scott.
Another video presentation was offered. This one featured pictures of Anthony at various ages and stages of his career. The video's soundtrack was Anthony playing Clair De Lune/Jesus Loves Me. Finally, the Homecoming choir sang Oh Come Angel Band as the casket was carried out,.. And family members were escorted from the sanctuary.
Homecoming choir (and players) included: