Apr-28 4:30 PM | Americas Stage
In many ways, Walker’s story is unusual. Born in San Francisco (on Christmas Day 1949) and now based in Westchester, New York, he was part of the Bay area blues scene in his early teens, and by the time he was 16 he had soaked up the sounds of the likes of T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn, and boogie woogie pioneers Meade Lux Lewis and Pete Johnson. As he grew up, he found himself on stage with such disparate tutors as John Lee Hooker, Thelonius Monk, the Soul Stirrers, Steve Miller and Jimi Hendrix. And by the time he was 19 he had built a close friendship — they were roommates for many years — with Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield’s tragic early death persuaded the young Walker to change his life. He enrolled at San Francisco State University, earning music and English degrees — and performing regularly with a gospel group, The Spiritual Corinthians. In 1985, he came back to the blues, fronting a new band he called The Bosstalkers, ands making the first of five albums for the Hightone label, before signing to PolyGram’s Verve/Gitanes label, for who he recorded another six albums. These records served as an entrée into the European market. Sterling appearances at major festivals throughout Europe (North Sea Jazz, Glastonbury, Nottoden and Montreux among them) led to further tours and festivals in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Ireland, Turkey and Brazil. Along the way he played President George Bush’s inauguration, helped President Bill Clinton induct B.B. King into the Kennedy Centre Awards, and performed on America’s most-watched late-night television shows.