Billy Walker Biography

Billy Marvin Walker, 14 January 1929, Ralls, Texas, USA, d. 21 May 2006, near Montgomery, Alabama, USA. Walker was born on a farm but was raised in an orphanage after his mother’s death. When he was 11 years old, he returned to live with his father, who had remarried. Walker learned the guitar from his father, and after seeing a Gene Autry film, he was determined to become a singer. He appeared on radio in Clovis when aged 15 and two years later appeared as ‘The Travelling Texan’ on the Big D Jamboree radio show on KRLD Dallas. Walker recorded for Capitol Records from 1949-51, but he did not make the US country charts until he recorded ‘Thank You For Calling’ for Columbia Records in 1954. He dispensed with his mask and joined both The Louisiana Hayride and Ozark Jubilee. From 1960 onwards, Walker was a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry.

Walker was the first to record Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ and he passed another of another Nelson’s songs, ‘Crazy’, to Patsy Cline. In 1962 Walker had his first US country number 1 with ‘Charlie’s Shoes’ and subsequent successes included ‘Cross The Brazos At Waco’, ‘A Million To One’, ‘Sundown Mary’, ‘She Goes Walking Through My Mind’ and ‘Sing Me A Love Song To Baby’, followed by a succession of minor chart successes for a variety of companies, including his own Tall Texan label. By the end of 1988, he had placed 65 records in the US country charts, including duets with Barbara Fairchild, ‘The Answer Game’ and ‘Let Me Be The One’. His own songs included a tribute to Marty Robbins, ‘He Sang The Songs About El Paso’. Walker, who was a born-again Christian, notably stated ‘Current crossover trends are like mixing chocolate, strawberry and vanilla in the same bowl. Not only is it an ugly colour but it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.’ On 21 May 2006, Walker died in an automobile accident on an Alabama interstate south of Montgomery. His wife and two band members were also killed.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.