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Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff Walker is strongly associated with the progressive ("outlaw") country scene that centered around Austin, TX, in the 1970s and included such figures as Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, the Lost Gonzo Band, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt.

Ironically, however, Walker is not a native Texan. He was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in upstate New York and recorded his first several albums while living in New York City. He didn't move to Austin until 1971, but he's remained a major figure in the area ever since. Walker has been quoted as saying, "the first time I set foot in Texas, particularly in Austin, I knew I was home."

Walker first recorded with the folk-rock group Circus Maximus for Vanguard in 1967. The band split after its second album, and Walker signed with Atco and released his first solo album, Mr. Bojangles, in 1968. He is, for better or worse, best known as the writer of "Mr. Bojangles," an enduring pop classic he wrote at the after meeting a street singer named Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in a New Orleans drunk tank. His version of "Bojangles" never hit it big, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's rendition made the Top Ten of the pop charts in 1971.

In 1972, Walker signed with Decca/MCA and released a self-titled album that included his version of Guy Clark's "L.A. Freeway," and "That Old Time Feeling," along with his own "Hill Country Rain," his reputation for being a "gypsy songman" found its roots in this outing. His best-known album from the period, however, is Viva Terlingua, which he recorded in 1973 in the tiny Texas town of Luckenbach with the Lost Gonzo Band. The album went gold, and it's his biggest-selling album to date. His subsequent recordings of the '70s, particularly It's a Good Night for Singin', Ridin' High, and A Man Must Carry On solidified Walker's reputation for being not only a great songwriter, but a wonderful interpreter of the work of his peers, and for being the greatest example of the living embodiment of "cosmic cowboyism."

Walker was a hard partier throughout much of his career (his friends called him "Jacky Jack"), and this reputation became part of his identity. He's since cleaned up his act -- in part thanks to his wife, Susan, whom he married in 1974 -- and he's continued to record steadily into the '00s. He released a couple albums on Elektra/Asylum in the late '70s, but remained mostly with MCA until his 1982 album Cowjazz -- a record that became his last for any major label. The Elektra recordings, Jerry Jeff and Too Old to Change, were undervalued during their heyday, and have been proved to be among his most adventurous and enduring recordings thanks to a Wounded Bird two-fer reissue on CD in 2003. Walker, as evidenced by these recordings, was the only one of his peers -- with the possible exception of Willie Nelson -- who unrelentingly sought change and development in his sound. It didn't help with a country music industry completely hoodwinked by (sub)urban cowboyism and a pop market less receptive to organic American music than at any time in its history. In 1985, however, he showed the industry he could live without their help and released the first of a series of self-made cassettes, Gypsy Songman, many of which he sold via a mailing list that has grown to more than 40,000 strong. In 1987, Walker worked out a deal with Rykodisc which released his CDs until 1996 when their partnership ended. He has since continued to market his material on Tried & True through his website and live shows. While Walker's Tried & True issues have not been as critically well-regarded as his earlier work, they are compelling, occasionally brilliant, always written from the perspective of where his gypsy songman is at this particular musical moment.

In 1991 and 1992, Walker hosted the weekly TV show, The Texas Connection, on TNN. In 1993, he returned to Luckenbach for an anniversary recording that became the album, Viva Luckenbach! Walker's birthday is a major celebration in Austin every March, when he plays several shows in different local clubs and theaters. In 1999, he published an autobiography, Gypsy Songman, accompanied by an LP of the same name. Walker's most recent release, Jerry Jeff Jazz showcases him singing jazz-pop and swing standards in front of a small, tightly knit combo. While his voice has lost some of its pliability in recent years, it nonetheless suits the gorgeous, homey quality of this recording; it is his finest moment on record in over a decade. Apparently this old coyote still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. ~ Kurt Wolf & Thom Jurek
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Walker's Collectibles / Ridin' High... Plus

Disc 1

4. I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning

5. My Old Man

7. The First Showboat

9. Wingin' It Home To Texas

Disc 2

1. Public Domain

2. Pick Up The Tempo

3. Like A Coat From The Cold

4. I Love You

5. Night Riders' Lament

6. Goodbye Easy Street

7. Pot Can't Call The Kettle Black

8. Mississippi You're On My Mind

9. Jaded Lover

10. Pissin' In The Wind

11. The Stranger (He Was The Kind)

12. L.A. Freeway


Track List: Best Of The Rest

Disc 1

1. Navajo Rug

2. Just To Celebrate

3. Lucky Man

4. Charlie Dunn

5. Dutchman

6. Borderline

7. Hands On The Wheel

8. Long Afternoons

9. Blue Mood

10. Curly & Lil

11. Then Came The Children

12. Singin' The Dinosaur Blues

13. Cadillac Cowboy

14. Hill Country Rain

Disc 2

3. What I Like About Texas

4. Keep Texas Beautiful

5. Manny's Hat Song

6. Down In Texas

7. Life On The Road

8. Love Changes Everything

9. Long Old Dusty Road

10. Hard Livin'

11. Life's Too Short

12. Pass It On

13. Layin' My Life On The Line

14. Gonzo Compadres


Track List: Jerry Jeff Walker: The Ultimate Collection

1. Gypsy Songman

2. Mr. Bojangles

3. Jaded Lover

4. L.A. Freeway

5. Hairy A** Hillbillies

6. Gettin' By

7. Desperados Waiting For A Train

8. Sangria Wine

10. Pot Can't Call The Kettle Black

11. Like A Coat From The Cold

12. Mississippi You're On My Mind

13. Pissin' In The Wind

14. It's A Good Night For Singing

15. Old Five And Dimers Like Me

16. Leavin' Texas

17. Railroad Lady

18. Tryin' To Hold The Wind Up With A Sail

19. Lone Wolf


Track List: The Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker

1. L.A. Freeway

2. Mr. Bojangles

3. Pot Can't Call The Kettle Black

4. I Love You

5. Leavin' Texas

6. Gettin' By

7. Desperados Waiting For The Train

8. Sangria Wine

9. Up Against The Wall, Redneck

10. Hill Country Rain


Track List: Viva Terlingua!

1. Gettin' By (Live)

2. Desperados Waiting For The Train (Live)

3. Sangria Wine (Live)

4. Little Bird (Live)

5. Get It Out (Live)

6. Up Against The Wall Red Neck (Live)

7. Backsliders Wine (Live)

8. Wheel (Live)

9. London Homesick Blues (Live)


Track List: Jerry Jeff Walker (Expanded Version)

1. Hill Country Rain

2. Charlie Dunn

4. Her Good Lovin' Grace

5. Hairy A** Hillbillies

6. David And Me

7. L.A. Freeway

8. Curly And Lil

9. That Old Beat Up Guitar

11. Moon Child

13. Don't It Make You Wanna Dance?

14. Roll On Down The Road

15. Song For The Life

16. Leavin' Texas

17. Mr. Bojangles


Track List: The Best Of Jerry Jeff Walker -- The Millennium Collection

1. Mr. Bojangles (Live)

2. Old Five And Dimers Like Me

3. L.A. Freeway

4. Hairy A** Hillbillies

5. Gettin' By

6. Despeardoes Waiting For A Train

7. Sangria Wine

8. Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother (Live)

9. Pot Can't Call The Kettle Black

10. Pissin' In The Wind

11. Leavin' Texas

12. Railroad Lady


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God bless Jerry Jeff Walker
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Boba flea is about Bill "Bojangles Robinson. Made a movie once with Shirley Temple
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saw jerry jeff : john prine : johnaton edwards great show back in the day circa mid 80's
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Country soul.
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He wrote Mr Bojangles when camping under a bridge while hitchhiking, The song is about a man he met in the New Orleans city jail. Gotta love the guy.
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mike.cohen22 3 b
Jerry Jeff may have written Mr Bojangles in tribute to Bill Bojangles Robinson, but that man was not a street singer. He was a famous tap dancer and actor, at one point the highest-paid African American performer in America . And, as someone else pointed out, it's unlikely that JJW met him in a drunk tank, because he died in '49, when Jerry Jeff was 7 years old. Doesn't in an way detract from the song; Just wanted Robinson to get credit for being more than a street singer.
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mike.cohen22 3 b
Jerry Jeff may have written Mr Bojangles in tribute to Bill Bojangles Robinson, but that man was not a street singer. He was a famous tap dancer and actor, at one point the highest-paid African American performer in America . And, as someone else pointed out, it's unlikely that JJW met him in a drunk tank, because he died in '49, when Jerry Jeff was 7 years old.
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Well, this is a bit more like Please Be With Me, by Cowboy, than the other selections. Simon & Garfunkel, Buddy Guy, Albert King... all good but on this station?. Had this station for about ten years and Pandora is not any better at selecting music.
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well this is a bit like Please be with me. I created a Buddy Guy, and BB King? Really? Had this channel about ten years and they are taking wild stabs at music!
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A friend of mine introduced me to Jerry Jeff and Skoal back in 1975. Saw him live in Norman OK more times than I can count. Still one of my all time favorites. If you have never heard the Brooks and Dunn tribute, The Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker, find it. It is great and they even have the man himself contribute. I will forever be "pickin' up the pieces wherever the fall".
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I've been so fortunate to have seen Jerry Jeff perform many many times from 1975 through
His 30th Birthday Bash 3/25,26/16. He & the band gave the fans a wonderful & energetic performance. Jerry Jeff's connection with his fans through song is very direct & those newly exposed to his voice are immediately hooked.
Congratulati o n s to JJW & Susan for having his Star placed in front of the Paramount Theatre in Austin.
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That old Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe is worth about $7500 right about now.
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Chill out taking in jjw & friends. Packing up for holiday on Galveston. 20+strong. Ending it on jan.2nd@ Galveston Opera house with Jerry Jeff. My wife said see you soon "little bird ".
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I think ill get me a falstaff yep.
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Back in the 70's JJW was supposed to play The Main Point near Philly, did not show due to alcohol. Think they had Livingston Taylor fill in at the last moment. Long time ago
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I used to regularly see him at the Cheatham Street Warehouse and the League City Village fair. Seemed to always open with Getting By.
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Saw Jerry Jeff at the Armadillo World Head Beer Gardens for free in the 70's which made love this type of ballad/count r y / d r i n k i n g / g r a m m y winning stuff.Love you to Susan for keeping this old gray cat alive to this day....
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wanna here pissin in the wind
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man how can you not love it
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Any1 else notice Robert earl keen sounds almost identical to early jerry Jeff it's pretty awesome to listen to both of their versions of sangria wine
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Want to hear "old pick up truck
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alisonhunter 9 3
Jerry Jeff changed this college kid's musical taste when I heard him at the Texas Moon Palace in Amarillo in '81. Viva Luckenbach! You'll live on forever...ju s t gettin' by.
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Great song. Too bad they didn't mention that it was Gary P Nunn, not Jerry Jeff singing it. Nunn wrote it too.
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Love this song! Makes me think of home on the ranch!
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just read above that suzzane died ? I knew them in the crazy days around 74-77....and god he loved that woman. my sympathies.

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danni.goldin g
love jjw too. but you must surely know most of his hits have been written by guy clark and others. lake tahoe is a repeat performance of many times. don't you just love that Texas about him.
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saw jjw in northshore Lake Tahoe he was so drunk he could not preform had to come back the next nite to try again it was great nite
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Great artist
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Saw JJW in 68 with Bromberg backing him up at The Bitter End club in NYC. Me a fan? Yes, ever since.
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Love this music ,makes a great station. The 70's Austin scene was and is some of the best music this country ever produced.
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Rocket Jerry!!!
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Luv Jerry Jeff...! Alway have and always will...such a gypsy soul...he's a lyrical hero...they don't get any better than Jerry Jeff...i again thank all the gods that be that he was here in my lifetime...t h a n k s JJ...tale care///
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Challis Idaho this coming week!! Hooray for us
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Going to see Jerry Jeff in Beaver Creek, Colorado tonight, I haven't seen him in years, can't wait!!
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i didnt see any thing about d
esperados waiting for a train or up against the wall redneck mother sangria wine to name a few
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the greatest whiskey voice saw him 25 yrs ago here in Honolulu
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jerry jeff and Waylon Jennings told me not to marry Doug Sahm in Vancouver, didnt listen...... . G o d i miss him but I know he's watchin out for me the way he always did in this life
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Rieviewers Wolf & Jurek might want to do their homework.... o r at least a little math. Since Jerry Jeff Walker was only 7 years old in 1949 when Bill Bojangles Robinson died, it is highly unlikely that he met him in a New Orleans drunk tank...unles s Jerry Jeff led a lot tougher childhood than we thought. He might have met a New Orleans street performer in jail, but it wasn't Bill Bojangles Robinson.
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Remember seeing him in Elk, CA in the mid eighties. Had a drink with him, too!
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just found the old riding high Album been a fan 30 yrs we drank the same back then back then no mas Paco
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Jerry Jeff is the whole reason JB first went to Florida. You can look it up!
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Jerry Jeff is one of the greatest country music artists ever. And he had one of the greatest backing bands ever... The Gonzos. John Inmon's guitar along with a Jerry Jeff ballad is one of the most beautiful sounds ever.
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Jerry Jeff Walker is a great example of why I like the Texas music scene.
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I have listened to Jerry jeff since high school, I have seen him in concert, there is no other like him, love, love, love him!!!!
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photoruff_pw h s
Jerry Jeff Walker is country but don't be fooled it's not country. His music to some maybe old but it is still relevant today as it once was, and it will be 100 years from now. He is to country music, as Jimmy Buffet is to rock. They have world all their own.
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How can the bio author mention the Austin "progressive country" sound without mentioning Michael Murphey, the Cosmic Cowboy, on whose tails the rest of them rode?
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just saw Gary P nunn Then the next weeksaw Bob Livingston. Jerry Jeff all over the area. I'm A lucky man!
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A legend...who can have a party without some ol' Jerry Jeff!!
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I'm trying to find the awesome song The Wind is My Love... any help?
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red Rocks 1976 rocked!
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