JERRY JEFF WALKER : Mr. BOJANGLES (US'68)
His First Solo Album
Walker was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta,New York.During the late 1950s,Crosby was a member of a local Oneonta teen band called The Tones.The band traveled to Philadelphia to audition for Dick Clark's "American Bandstand",but were turned down.Members of the band found Dick Clark's house and were able to get a recommendation to audition at New York City's Baton Records through the company's lead producer Sol Rabinowitz.The band was given a recording contract,but the studio wanted a quintet backed by studio musicians,which left Crosby and another member out of their recordings.
After high school,Crosby joined the National Guard,but his thirst for adventure led him to go AWOL and roam the country busking for a living in areas like New Orleans,Texas,Florida, and New York.He played mostly ukulele until Harriet Ottenheimer,one of the founders of The Quorum, got him settled on a guitar in 1963.He adopted his stage name "Jerry Jeff Walker" in 1966.He spent his early folk music days in Greenwich Village in the mid 1960s.He co-founded a band with Bob Bruno in the late 1960s called Circus Maximus that put out two albums one with the popular west coast hit "Wind", but Bruno's interest in jazz apparently diverged from Walker's interest in folk music.Walker thus resumed his solo career and recorded the seminal album "Mr. Bojangles" with the help of David Bromberg and other influential Atlantic recording artists."Mr. Bojangles" (written by Walker) is perhaps his most well-known and most-often covered song.It was about an obscure alcoholic but talented tap-dancing drifter,(not the famous stage and movie dancer Bill Robinson, as usually assumed).Bojangles is thought to have been a folk character who entertained informally in the south of the US and California,and some say he might have been one of the most gifted natural dancers ever.Authentic reports of him exist from the 1920s through about 1965.Artists from Nina Simone to Bob Dylan, Philip Glass to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,have covered the song.
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