Tav Falco's Panther Burns, sometimes shortened to (The) Panther Burns, is a rock band originally from Memphis, Tennessee, United States, led by Tav Falco. They are best known for having been part of a set of bands emerging in the late 1970s and early 1980s who helped nationally popularize the blending of blues, country, and other American traditional music styles with rock music among groups playing in alternative music and punk music venues of the time. The earliest and most renowned of these groups to imbue these styles with expressionist theatricality and primitive spontaneity were The Cramps, largely influenced by rockabilly music. Forming just after them in 1979, Panther Burns drew on obscure country blues music, Antonin Artaud's works like The Theater and Its Double, beat poetry, and Marshall McLuhan's media theories for their early inspiration. Alongside groups like The Cramps and The Gun Club, Panther Burns ranked among the contributing influences and progenitors of the Southern Gothic-tinged roots music revival scene that arose during the last two decades of the 20th century and continued into the early 2000s.
Artists who have referenced Panther Burns as one of their influences include the American alternative music artists Southern Culture on the Skids, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jack Oblivian, the Royal Pendletons, and The Gories, as well as lesser known regional artists like Tampa's Barons of Love and Orlando band leader Aaron Jarvis. In Europe, neo-psychedelic groups who have cited the Panther Burns as an influence include England's Spacemen 3, and Psychedelic Ubik; Scotland's Primal Scream; Germany's Cuban Rebel Girls (named after one of Falco's original songs), Legendary Golden Vampires, and Tumbling Hearts; France's The Dum Dum Boys; and Italy's Time Machine.
For Panther Burns' own professed influences, the list is lengthy, from The Cramps to Bix Beiderbecke, Jessie Mae Hemphill, The Sonics, Mack Rice, Chuck Berry, Phineas Newborn Jr., Calvin Newborn, Frank Sinatra, Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Einstürzende Neubauten, the Johnny Burnette Rock and Roll Trio, Brian Eno, Marlene Dietrich, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Xavier Cugat, Junior Kimbrough, Laura Dukes, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, Chris Spedding, Jimmy Reed, The Nightcrawlers, the Velvet Underground, Junior Parker, Othar Turner, Charlie Feathers, Howling Wolf, Mose Vinson, Van Zula Hunt, Cordell Jackson, Ronnie Hawkins, the Ventures, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley, Skip James, Pat Hare, The Doors, R. L. Burnside, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Fahey, Joe Meek, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Gene Pitney, and Elmore James, among many others Falco has listed over the years.
After forming Tav Falco's Panther Burns and making their first recordings in Memphis, the group soon evolved as a rotating crew of additional musicians hailing mostly from Memphis, New York, and New Orleans. In the early 1990s, Falco moved to Vienna and later, Paris; at that time he began working more with European musicians. He currently resides in Vienna.