Country music singer Jerry Jeff Walker, the man behind “Mr. Bojangles,” died Friday after a battle with throat cancer. He was 78.
“He had been home until one hour before his departure,” his wife of 46 years, Susan Walker, informed that the Austin American-Statesman. “He went very peacefully, which we had been extremely grateful for.”
Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in New York in 1942, Walker cut his teeth at the folk music scene of Greenwich Village in the’60s. After spending a night in a New Orleans drunk tank at the mid-60s, Walker wrote”Mr. Bojangles,” which goes on to be a hit and attract several covers by other renowned artists such as Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr..
After moving to Austin in 1971, Walker had an outsize Effect on the country music scene , helping to create genre called”outlaw country” — a type of mix between folk and rock — which was popularized by Willie Nelson and many others around precisely the exact same time.
“Other Compared to Willie, Jerry Jeff is really the most important musician to happen to Austin, Texas, I would have to say,” Ray Benson of this nation group Asleep at the Wheel informed the Tennessean. “He actually brought that folksinger/songwriter form to its height in Texas. And therefore, he’ll be eternal, since there’s all these kids now that compose songs in that manner.”
Fans of Jimmy Buffett may have Walker to thank because of his association With West. At Buffett’s 1998 biography, he also credited Walker with introducing him to”each of the funky bars and watering holes” out of Miami to Key West.
Throughout his 51-year recording career, Walker published 36 albums. Eschewing what he perceived of as sterile recording studios, Walker captured many of his albums at home or in various dance halls.
In The mid-’80s, Walker and his wife formed their own label, Tried & True Music, they ran out of their Austin home. The homegrown label managed all of Walker’s bookings, tour promotion, product and publicity.
In a 2018 interview with the Statesman, Walker noted that he and his wife had done pretty well for two individuals who didn’t know a lot about the music industry.
“We make this up from the air,” Walker said, contrasting his tag with the More famous businesses. “These folks don’t really have any longer Idea about how it belongs than we do.”