Former President Bill Clinton mourned the death of Jerry Jeff Walker. The songwriter passed away on Friday (Oct. 23) at 78-years-old.
Clinton wrote a tribute to Walker, remembering his concert at an Austin, Texas music hall in 1972. Walker later performed for Clinton in 1992 as part of his campaign race.
Clinton wrote, “I was saddened to hear about the passing of Jerry Jeff Walker. I’ll never forget seeing him at the Armadillo music hall in Austin in 1972, or his performance for my 1992 campaign the night before Election Day. He was a true original, and his music will live on.”
Kix Brooks Also Paid Tribute To Jerry Jeff Walker
In a Twitter post, Kix Brooks, of Brooks and Dunn, paid tribute to Walker. Brooks reflected on their friendship over the years, revealing that Walker helped him early in his career. Brooks would later repay that kindness with a tribute song “The Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker”. The song featured on Brooks and Dunn’s album Cowboy Town and also featured Walker.
Brooks wrote, “Lost my buddy [Jerry Jeff Walker] last night! One of the great Lone Star bada–es – gave me a gig in the 70s when he was the king in my neck of the woods- Adios Amigo – tell [Guy Clark] I said hey- RIP.”
Walker Had a Six Decade Career As a Musician
Walker became a staple in the Austin, Texas area where he played alongside artists such as Willie Nelson, Gary Nunn, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Todd Snider. Walker recorded several albums across his career such as the classic ¡Viva Terlingua!. His last album, It’s About Time, released in 2018.
But “Mr. Bojangles’ may be the crown jewel in Walker’s career. Walker was inspired to write the song while in jail in New Orleans in 1965. Police officers had arrested him for public intoxication, and he shared a cell with a street performer. The anonymous street performer became the inspiration for the song. Several iconic musicians covered the hit, including Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis Jr. and Neil Diamond.
Walker is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Jessie Jane, and his son Django.