From coming up with some of the most important country tunes in the American songbook throughout the years to becoming a groundbreaking member of the Texas music scene, Jerry Jeff Walker died leaving all of us seeking and wondering who will fill his shoes. Truly, the impact he made is something that cannot be compared or replaced.
But how well do you know Walker? We’ve gathered some of the most interesting facts about the man behind the famous song “Mr. Bojangles.” Keep on scrolling below.
1. He’s an Oneonta, New York native.
Jerry Jeff Walker, whose real name was Ronald Clyde, was born on March 16, 1942, to parents Mel and Alma. His father worked as a sports referee and bartender while his mother was a housewife.
2. He got his musical talent from his grandparents.
Walker’s maternal grandparents inspired him to learn how to play music. His grandmother played the piano while his grandfather played the fiddle for square dances in the Oneonta area.
3. He formed his first band when he was in high school.
While Walker was a student at Oneonta High School, he built his first band, The Tones.
4. He was co-founder of the group Circus Maximus.
And they played groovy, jazz-rock tunes.
5. He joined the National guard.
However, his adventurous side caused him to go AWOL. Walker was later on discharged.
6. He changed his name in the late 1960s.
Walker roamed the country playing under the stage name of Jerry Ferris. Later, he went with Jeff Walker before merging them into Jerry Jeff Walker and legally changed his name into that.
7. He’s a married man.
In 1974, Walker married Susan Streit. The couple was blessed with two children: son Django Walker and daughter Jessie Jane.
8. He named his son after Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt.
Walker’s son Django has followed his father’s footsteps being the lead vocalist of the Django Walker Band in Texas. Walker once revealed that the only piece of advice he could give to his son is to “write a good song.” After all, the singer knew by heart that “writing a good song is the foundation of a lot to keep you going.”
9. He built his own independent record label.
In 1986, Walker founded Tried & True Music and released albums through it. His wife Susan served as the president and manager.
10. He had donated over a hundred boxes of his music archives.
In 2017, Walker donated his music archives to The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. This includes hand-written lyrics, tapes, photographs, and so much more.
Jerry Jeff Walker