Jerry Jeff Walker is a music icon in Austin, Texas….for when he moved to Austin in the early 1970’s….it really wasn’t that big of a place….and certainly not the million person metropolis that it is in 2018…..and if a person hangs around Austin long enough like Bone Daddy has…..the paths of all Austin icons….be it musician or Sportsphile….seem to always cross and overlap….evidenced by the awesome sax player in this Jerry Jeff band featured in this video herewith….cuz Tomas Ramirez, saxophone player extraordinaire and another Austin music icon….rented one of Bone Daddy’s rent houses for over 7 years….and BD tells the story of how he loved to go collect rent…..cuz he got to spend time on the front porch listening to Tomas play.
Jerry Jeff Walker spent his early folk music days in Greenwich Village in the mid-1960’s…. when he co-founded a band with Bob Bruno in the late-1960’s called Circus Maximus…. who put out two albums….one with the popular FM radio hit “Wind”….but Bruno’s interest in jazz apparently diverged from Walker’s interest in folk music…..thus Jerry Jeff resumed his solo career and recorded the seminal album Mr. Bojangles with the help of David Bromberg….along with other influential Atlantic recording artists…..which allowed him to settle in Austin, Texas in 1974….which allowed him to associate with the outlaw country scene that included artists such as Michael Martin Murphey, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt.
Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” is perhaps his most well-known and most-often covered song. It was about an obscure alcoholic but talented tap-dancing drifter who, when arrested and jailed in New Orleans, insisted on being identified only as Bojangles…the nickname of famed dancer Bill Robinson. In his autobiography Gypsy Songman, Walker makes it clear the man he met was white….saying in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in August 2008 that he pointed out this fact at the time…..cuz the jail cells in New Orleans were segregated along color lines back then, so, his influence could not have been black….as Bojangles was thought to have been a folk character who entertained informally in the South and California….with authentic reports of him existing from the 1920’s through about 1965.
Jerry Jeff Walker also recorded songs written by others such as “LA Freeway” by Guy Clark….“Up Against the Wall Red Neck Mother” by Ray Wylie Hubbard….“Looking For The Heart of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits….and “London Homesick Blues” by Gary P. Nunn…..as a string of records for MCA and Elektra followed Jerry Jeff’s move to Austin, Texas….after which he gave up on the mainstream music business and formed his own independent record label….as Tried & True Music was founded in 1986….along with his wife Susan as president and manager….as Susan also founded Goodknight Music as his management company and Tried & True Artists for his bookings….which was followed by a series of increasingly autobiographical records followed under the Tried & True imprint….which also sells his autobiography, Gypsy Songman. In 2004, Jerry Jeff released his first DVD of songs from his past as performed in an intimate setting in Austin.He has interpreted the songs of others like Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Siebel, Bob Dylan, Todd Snider, Dave Roberts, and even a rodeo clown named Billy Jim Baker. Some have called Jerry Jeff the Jimmy Buffett of Texas…. for It was Jerry Jeff who first drove Jimmy Buffett to Key West from Coconut Grove, Florida in a Packard automobile….as Walker and Buffett also co-wrote the song “Railroad Lady” while riding the last run of the Panama Limited.