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
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 by 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