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Jerry Jeff Walker (born Ronald Clyde Crosby, March 16, 1942, in Oneonta, New York.) He is a country and American singer-songwriter best known for writing the song ” Mr. Bojangles “has a prolific career and a great musical influence, which has made him an iconic symbol of the Texas country scene.
Walker’s maternal grandparents played outdoor dances in the Oneonta area, New York, with his grandmother, Jessie Conroe, playing the piano and her husband playing the violin. In the late 1950s, Crosby was a member of a local Oneonta band called The Tones. The band traveled to Philadelphia to audition for the Dick Clark American Bandstand program. From here they got an audition at the New York City’s Baton Records, through the company’s leading producer, Sol Rabinowitz. The band won a record contract, but the studio wanted a quintet backed by studio musicians, which left Crosby and another band member (Jerry Russell) out of the recordings.
After high school, Crosby joined the National Guard, but his thirst for adventure led him to wander the country busking, living in New Orleans and throughout Texas, Florida and New York, often accompanied by H.R. Stoneback (A friendship related to the 1970 theme “Stoney”). He played mostly the ukulele until Harriet Ottenheimer, one of the founders of The Quorum, got him a guitar in 1963. He adopted his stage name “Jerry Jeff Walker” in 1966. He had a folk era in Greenwich Village in the middle of the 60. He then co-founded a band with Bob Bruno called Circus Maximus that released 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 began his solo career and recorded the seminal album “Mr. Bojangles” with the help of David Bromberg and other influential recording artists of the Atlantic label. He moved to Austin, Texas, in the 70s, which at that time was mainly associated with the country outlaw scene of artists such as Michael Martin Murphey, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt.
“Mr Bojangles” is perhaps his best known song and his most often covered song, about a dark talented alcoholic who dances tap who, when arrested in New Orleans, insists on being identified only as Bojangles (the nickname of the famous dancer Bill Robinson). In his autobiography ‘Gypsy Songman’, Walker clarifies that the man he met was white. Later, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, in August 2008, he points out that at that time prison cells in New Orleans were segregated by color, so their influence could not have been black. Bojangles was a popular character, who lived informally in the southern United States. and California, with authentic reports from the 1920s to about 1965. Artists like Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Philip Glass, Bobby Cole, David Bromberg, Tom T. Hall, Jim Stafford, Sammy Davis Jr., Lulu (New Routes), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Harry Belafonte and Robbie Williams, have covered the song. Walker has also 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)
He was releasing albums for MCA and Elektra in this period of Austin, Texas, before leaving them and forming his own independent label. Tried & amp; True Music was founded in 1986, with his wife Susan as president and director. Susan also founds Goodknight Music as her management company and Tried & amp; True Artists for your bookings. They followed a series of increasingly autobiographical records under his label Tried & amp; True. Tried & amp; True also published his autobiography entitled “Gypsy Songman”. In 2004, Jerry Jeff made his first DVD of songs from his past, played in an intimate setting in Austin.
He has played the songs of others he likes like Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Keith Sykes, Paul Siebel, Bob Dylan, Todd Snider or Dave Roberts. Some have called Jerry Jeff the Jimmy Buffett of Texas. It was Jerry Jeff who first took 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 final race of Panama Limited.
Jerry married Susan Streit in Travis County, Texas in 1974. They have two children: a son, Django Walker, who is also a musician and a daughter, Jessie Jane. In addition to his residence in Austin, Walker has a retirement home on Ambergris Caye in Belize, where he recorded his album Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits in 1998.
Walker has developed a style of music called “Cowjazz”. The pathetic “Eastern Avenue River Railway Blues” is one of the best examples of this music. The song sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Harry Chapin, with a letter that refers to the industrial area between East Cincinnati Avenue and the Ohio River.
The members of his band have changed over the years. The Lost Gonzo Band and the Gonzo Compadres backed him up in the past. Key members of his band have included John Inmon, Freddie Krc, Gary P. Nunn, Bob Livingston, Michael Clarke, Bobby Ray Rambo, Mitch Watkins, Steve Samuel, David Bromberg, Chris Gage (of Albert and Gage, Austin, TX ), Brad Fordham and others. He is the “Jerry Jeff” in the song “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” when Willie Nelson sings, “Between Pain Songs by Hank Williams / and Train Songs by Jerry Jeff”.
Jerry Jeff has an annual birthday celebration in Austin, Texas, at the Paramount Theater and another one at Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas, this celebration has become a huge event in Texas and brings some of the most great of country music to spend a nice evening and exchange stories under the Austin skyline. Jimmy Buffett attended the 2004. His son Django also accompanies him in these celebrations and gives him a gift.
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