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Folk music singer Jerry Jeff Walker, who was behind “Mr. Bojangles”, died Friday after a battle with throat cancer. He is 78 years old.
“He was at home until about an hour before he died,” said his wife, Susan Walker, 46. Said Austin American-Statesman. “He went very relaxed and we were very grateful.”
Born in New York in 1942, Ronald Clyde Crosby cut his teeth at a folk music scene in Greenwich Village in the 60s. After spending a night in a New Orleans drunkenness in the mid-60s, Walker wrote “Mr. Bozangles”, which would become a hit and attract many covers by other famous artists including Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr. .
After moving to Austin in 1971, Walker made an external impact on the folk music scene there, helping to create the so-called “illegal country” genre – a kind of mix between rock and country – that was popularized by Willie Nelson and others around him.
“Besides Willie, Jerry Jeff is the most important musician to happen to Austin in Texas, I have to say,” said Ray Benson of Sleep at the Wheel. Tennessee. “He really brought that folksinger / songwriter form to its height in Texas. For that he will be forever, because today all these kids write songs that way.”
Fans of Jimmy Buffett may have Walker to thank for his association with Key West. In Buffett’s 1998 autobiography, he praised Walker for introducing him to “all the fun bars and irrigation holes” from Miami to Key West.
In his 51-year recording career, Walker has released 36 albums. Aside from what he perceived as sterile recording studios, Walker recorded many of his albums at home or in various dance halls.
In the mid-80s, Walker and his wife created their own label, Trit & True Music, and they moved out of the Austin home. The local label handled Walker’s booking, tour promotion, products and advertising all.
In a 2018 interview Statesman, Walker noted that he and his wife did very well for two people who did not know much about the music business.
“We make it out of air,” Walker compares his label to the most popular companies. “These people really have no other idea about how this is going than we do.”