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Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff Walker

American singer
Jerry Jeff Walker
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American singer
A.K.A. Ronald Clyde Crosby
Is Artist Street artist Singer Songwriter
From United States of America
Type Arts Creativity Music
Gender male
Birth 16 March 1942, Oneonta, Otsego County, New York, USA
Age 78 years
Star sign Pisces
Genre:
Country rock
Instruments:
Guitar
Voice
The details

Biography

Jerry Jeff Walker (born Ronald Clyde Crosby; March 16, 1942, Oneonta, New York, United States) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He is best known for writing "Mr. Bojangles".

Biography

Walker's maternal grandparents played for square dances in the Oneonta area, with his grandmother, Jessie Conroe, playing piano, and grandfather playing fiddle. During the late 1950s, Crosby was a member of a local Oneonta teen band called The Tones.

The band traveled to Philadelphia to audition for Dick Clark's American Bandstand, but were turned down. Members of the band found Dick Clark's house and were able to get a recommendation to audition at New York City's Baton Records through the company's lead producer Sol Rabinowitz. The band was given a recording contract, but the studio wanted a quintet backed by studio musicians, which left Crosby and another member (Gerald T. Russell) out of their recordings.

After high school, Crosby joined the National Guard, but his thirst for adventure led him to go AWOL and roam the country busking for a living in New Orleans and throughout Texas, Florida, and New York, often accompanied by H.R. Stoneback (a friendship referenced in 1970's "Stoney"). He played mostly ukulele until Harriet Ottenheimer, one of the founders of The Quorum, got him settled on a guitar in 1963. He adopted his stage name "Jerry Jeff Walker" in 1966.

He spent his early folk music days in Greenwich Village in the mid-1960s. He co-founded a band with Bob Bruno in the late-1960s called Circus Maximus that put out two albums, one with the popular FM radio hit "Wind", but Bruno's interest in jazz apparently diverged from Walker's interest in folk music. Walker thus resumed his solo career and recorded the seminal album Mr. Bojangles with the help of David Bromberg and other influential Atlantic recording artists. He settled in Austin, Texas, in the 1970s, associating mainly with the outlaw country scene that included artists such as Michael Martin Murphey, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt.

A string of records for MCA and Elektra followed Jerry Jeff's move to Austin, Texas, before he gave up on the mainstream music business and formed his own independent record label. Tried & True Music was founded in 1986, with his wife Susan as president and manager. Susan also founded Goodknight Music as his management company and Tried & True Artists for his bookings. A series of increasingly autobiographical records followed under the Tried & True imprint. Tried & True also sells his autobiography, Gypsy Songman. In 2004, Jerry Jeff released his first DVD of songs from his past as performed in an intimate setting in Austin.

He has interpreted the songs of others such as Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Siebel, Bob Dylan, Todd Snider, Dave Roberts, and even a rodeo clown named Billy Jim Baker. Some have called Jerry Jeff the Jimmy Buffett of Texas. It was Jerry Jeff who first drove Jimmy Buffett to Key West (from Coconut Grove, Florida in a Packard). Walker and Buffett also co-wrote the song "Railroad Lady" while riding the last run of the Panama Limited.

Walker married Susan Streit in 1974 in Travis County, Texas. They have two children: a son, Django Walker, who is also a musician, and a daughter Jessie Jane. Walker has a retreat on Ambergris Caye in Belize, where he recorded his Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits album in 1998.

Walker has an annual birthday celebration in Austin at the Paramount Theatre and at Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas. This party has become an enormous event in Texas and brings some of the biggest names in country music out for a night of picking and swapping stories under the Austin skyline. Jimmy Buffett attended the 2004 birthday bash.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Jerry Jeff Walker among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire.

Mr. Bojangles

Walker's "Mr. Bojangles" is perhaps his best-known and most-often covered song. It was about an obscure alcoholic but talented tap-dancing drifter who, when arrested and jailed in New Orleans, insisted on being identified only as Bojangles (the nickname of famed dancer Bill Robinson).

In his autobiography Gypsy Songman, Walker makes it clear the man he met was white. Further, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in August 2008, he pointed out that at the time the jail cells in New Orleans were segregated along color lines, so his influence could not have been black. Bojangles is thought to have been a folk character who entertained informally in the South and California, with authentic reports of his existing from the 1920s through about 1965. Walker recorded songs written by others such as "LA Freeway" (Guy Clark), "Up Against the Wall Red Neck Mother" (Ray Wylie Hubbard), "(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night" (Tom Waits) and "London Homesick Blues" (Gary P. Nunn).


Discography

Albums

Year Album Chart positions Label
1967 Circus Maximus Vanguard
1968 Neverland Revisited
Mr. Bojangles Atco
1969 Driftin' Way of Life Vanguard
1970 Five Years Gone Atco
1970 Bein' Free
1972 Jerry Jeff Walker 208 MCA
1973 Viva Terlingua 160
1974 Walker's Collectibles 141
1975 Ridin' High 14 119
1976 It's a Good Night for Singin' 18 84
1977 A Man Must Carry On 13 60
1978 Contrary to Ordinary 25 111 3
1978 Jerry Jeff 43 206 Elektra/Asylum
1979 Too Old to Change
1980 The Best of JJW 57 185 21 MCA
1981 Reunion 188
1982 Cowjazz
1987 Gypsy Songman DoLP Sawdust Records
1987 Gypsy Songman T&TM/Ryko
1989 Live at Gruene Hall
1991 Navajo Rug 59
Great Gonzos MCA
1992 Hill Country Rain T&TM/Ryko
1994 Viva Luckenbach
Christmas Gonzo Style
1995 Night After Night T&TM
1996 Scamp
1998 Cowboy Boots & Bathing Suits
Lone Wolf: Elektra Sessions Warner Bros.
1999 Best of the Vanguard Years Vanguard
Gypsy Songman: A Life in Song T&TM
2001 Gonzo Stew
Jerry Jeff Walker: Ultimate Collection Hip-O Records
2003 Jerry Jeff Jazz T&TM
2004 The One and Only
2009 Moon Child
2018 It's About Time
  • Contrary to Ordinary also peaked at No. 99 on the RPM Top Albums chart in Canada.

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
1968 "Mr. Bojangles" 77 22 Mr. Bojangles
1972 "L.A. Freeway" 98 98 Jerry Jeff Walker
1973 "Desperados Waiting for a Train" Viva Terlingua
"Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother"
1975 "Jaded Lover" 54 Ridin' High
1976 "It's a Good Night for Singing" 88 It's a Good Night for Singing
"Dear John Letter Lounge" flip
1977 "Mr. Bojangles" 93 A Man Must Carry On
1981 "Got Lucky Last Night" 82 Single only
1989 "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight" 70 Live at Gruene Hall
"The Pickup Truck Song" 62
"Trashy Women" 63
1994 "Keep Texas Beautiful" Single only
  • "Mr. Bojangles" also peaked at No. 51 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 23 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
http://www.thecountryradio.com
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/magazine/universal-music-fire-bands-list-umg.html
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//scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22Jerry+Jeff+Walker%22
https://www.jstor.org/action/doBasicSearch?Query=%22Jerry+Jeff+Walker%22&acc=on&wc=on
http://www.jerryjeff.com
http://www.jerryjeff.com/
http://www.jjwfan.com/
https://web.archive.org/web/20091101122001/http://old.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/simonson/2001/10/01/simonson.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20101108014551/http://www.okbuckaroosthemovie.com/main/About_the_Film.html
https://authority.bibsys.no/authority/rest/authorities/html/3106384
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