Jerry Jeff Walker Biography

Ronald Clyde Crosby, 16 March 1942, Oneonta, New York, USA. Although Walker initially pursued a career as a folk singer in New York’s Greenwich Village, he first forged his reputation as a member of Circus Maximus. He left this promising group following their debut album, when a jazz-based initiative proved incompatible with his own ambitions. Having moved to Key West in Florida, Walker resumed work as a solo artist with Drifting Way Of Life, before signing with Atco Records when his former outlet showed little interest in his country/folk material. He enjoyed a minor hit with ‘Mr. Bojangles’, a tale of a street dancer Walker reputedly met while drunk. Although the singer’s own rendition stalled in the chart’s lower reaches, it became a US Top 10 hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and has since been the subject of numerous cover versions, including a lethargic one by Bob Dylan.

By the early 70s Walker was based in Austin, Texas, where he became a kindred spirit to the city’s ‘outlaw’ fraternity, including Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. He also built one of the region’s most accomplished backing groups, later to pursue its own career as the Lost Gonzo Band. A low-key approach denied the artist equivalent commercial success, but Walker has enjoyed the approbation of colleagues and a committed cult following.

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

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