The country music world is in mourning this week after the legendary Jerry Jeff Walker, a singer and songwriter best known for penning the hit “Mr. Bojangles,” passed away. He was 78 years-old.
Walker’s death was confirmed to Fox News by his former publicist John T. Davis, who said that he had fought throat cancer and other related ailments “for several years.” Davis added that Walker’s family prefers not to make a statement at this time.
Walker was arguably best known for his hit song “Mr. Bojangles,” which he wrote after meeting a black street performer in a New Orleans drunk tank back in 1965. The song has since been recorded by a number of iconic singers, including Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, King Curtis, Dolly Parton, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Nina Simone. Sammy Davis Jr.’s version of the song even brought former President Richard Nixon to tears.
Born in 1942, Walker began making music as a teenager before joining the National Guard after he had finished high school. In 1971, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he was captivated by the “rapidly-evolving music scene” that included a mix of country, rock, folk and blues, otherwise known as “progressive country” or “cosmic cowboy” music. He would end up living in Austin for much of his life.
“The reason I stay here is because of my wife,” Walker once told The Next Waltz. “She’s as happy as she can be. She has the house she wanted in Austin. My kids like it too, so I’m sort of there.”
Walker had a 51 year career in the music world, releasing a total of 36 albums, including compilations. He also acted as a mentor to various famous musicians, including Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffet, Guy Clark, Todd Snider and Lucinda Williams.
Jerry Jeff Walker has passed away at the age of 78.
Shook. This is a monumental loss. More to come in the coming days with articles, playlists, tributes and memorials.
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Tributes for Walker have been pouring in since the news of his passing was announced.
“Jerry Jeff Walker passed,” tweeted Tom Arnold. “Great songwriter, soulful voice, respected by peers & funny. 30 years ago Roseanne wanted to sing Mr Bojangles in an HBO Special They said no that would disrespect Jerry. I called Jerry & he said he’d also written ‘Pissing in the wind’ so why the hell not.”
“Farewell to Jerry Jeff Walker, author of the 70s standard ‘Mr. Bojangles’ and a pioneering Texas country outlaw whose 1973 LP Viva Terlingua is a classic,” music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote on Twitter. “I’m also quite fond of his rowdy 1989 single ‘Trashy Women.'”
“R.I.P. Jerry Jeff Walker. Live Forever…. #RIP #jerryjeffwalker #mrbojangles #americansongwriter #liveforever #vivaterlingua #gonzo #troubadour,” added country music star Dallas Moore.
Walker leaves behind his wife of 46 years, Susan Walker, as well as a son, Django, and a daughter, Jessie.
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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