#Jerry Jeff Walker Dead at 78

#Jerry Jeff Walker Dead at 78

Jerry Jeff Walker has died, as a representative for his family confirms to Pitchfork. The country legend, who was diagnosed with throat cancer on 2017, passed away on Friday, October 23 from cancer-related complications. He was 78 years old.

Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, NY, Walker grew up playing guitar in local bands. After graduating high school in 1960, he took off across America to pursue writing and performing music full-time. His best-known song, 1968’s “Mr. Bojangles,” was inspired by a character he met during a night in a New Orleans drunk tank during this time. That song, Walker’s first hit, was recorded and covered by numerous artists over the decades, including Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte, and many others.

It wasn’t until the early 1970s that Walker moved to Austin and became associated with the Texas outlaw country scene that included Willie Nelson and Michael Martin Murphey, finding major success with releases like Ridin’ High and the beloved live album Viva Terlingua. During this time, he played with the Lost Gonzo Band, a loose group of fellow Austin musicians like Murphey and Ray Wylie Hubbard. In 1974, he married his wife Susan, who would later become his manager and oversee his career.

After his recording contract with MCA was complete, Walker established his own record label, Tried & True Music, with his wife. The singer-songwriter continued to record and perform late into his life; his final release, 2018’s It’s About Time, was his first LP in nearly a decade, and his first recording since being diagnosed with cancer. In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman that year, Walker reflected on a life spent navigating the music industry and writing songs that make sense to him. “I’ve been putting them in there one at a time, choosing my way as good as I can. And they fit me,” he said. “So when it’s all done, and that goes away, I’m still me.”

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