Texas singer and songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker dies at 78

Carla Harmon
October 27, 2020

Jerry Jeff Walker, the Texas country singer and songwriter who wrote the pop song "Mr. Bojangles" and helped build a new era in the Austin music scene of the 1970s, has died at age 78.

Walker died Friday of cancer, family spokesman John T. Davis told The Associated Press.

Born in NY in 1942, Ronald Clyde Crosby, Walker cut his teeth at the popular music scene in Greenwich Village in the 1960s.

Country Singer, Oneonta Native Jerry Jeff Walker Dies

"He was at home until an hour before his passing", Susan Walker, the singer's wife, told the Austin American-Statesman.

Walker cut his teeth in the folk music scene of Greenwich Village, New York in the 1960s and, after spending a night in New Orleans wrote his seminal hit, which would go on to be covered by stars including Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band in 1973 recorded an album live in Texas called "Viva Terlingua" that became a classic of the country-rock scene.

"Besides Willie, Jerry Jeff is the most important musician to happen to Austin in Texas, I have to say", said Ray Benson of Sleep at the Wheel. Tennessee.

Fans of Jimmy Buffett may have Walker to thank for his association with Key West. In Buffett's 1998 biography, Walker is credited with introducing "all the funky bars and watering holes" from Miami to Key West.

In his 51-year recording career, Walker has released 36 albums. The homegrown label managed all of Walker's tour promotions, bookings, publicity, and merchandise.

"We take it out of the air", Walker said, comparing his labels to those with more labels.

"'Outlaw country" made it sound like you had to go to jail to be an artist, but it's just that some people like Waylon and Willie were outside the business [norm]", Walker told Rolling Stone.

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