Jon Walmsley was only 15 years old when he landed the role of Jason Walton on the classic family drama The Waltons. That’s pretty young to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. And when Walmsley finished out his nine-year run on the iconic series, he realized his true passion was in music.
Aside from a few appearances in The Waltons-related specials, Jon Walmsley didn’t pursue a career in acting after finishing with his Jason Walton character. And hey, it was a pretty great role to go out on.
That said, Walmsley did make a few minor appearances in TV shows and TV movies in the 2000s. He appeared as an unnamed band member on 7th Heaven in 2005, and a guitar player in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2006. Picking up on the theme yet?
Jon Walmsley’s biography, according to IMDb, describes the man as a world-class guitarist and vocalist. When he was only 19 years old, Walmsley had his first performance on the Grand Ole Opry. He has worked with a seemingly endless list of legendary artists over the years, including The Doobie Brothers, Gregg Allman, Merle Haggard, and Roy Acuff, among others.
In 2017, The Waltons star released a solo blues album titled “Goin’ to Clarksdale.”
‘The Waltons’ Star Shared His Memory of Merle Haggard
Any aspiring or successful musician Jon Walmsley’s age has stood in awe of the late, great Merle Haggard at one point or another. The Waltons star had the great privilege of meeting Merle and working alongside the country legend when he accepted a role on the show in 1976.
Jon Walmsley told Billboard that he spent a ton of time with Haggard in the week that he was around the set for the filming of “The Comeback” episode from Season 5 of The Waltons. Can you image the thrill a young guitarist like Walmsley got out of playing with Merle Haggard between takes?
“What a nice guy Merle was. We all know how talented he was, but he was really a sweet, genuine, and down to earth man. He came onto the lot, on his bus, with his tour manager and those people. It was interesting because he seemed so humble and shy. He wasn’t a real showbiz personality. He struck me as being a little bit like Elvis– where he had his guys who were around him all the time,” said Walmsley.
It’s not as if the two struck up a friendship. However, Walmsley admits that he’d like to have seen the less performative side of Haggard too.
“I think he felt most comfortable at home on the stage. I would have loved to have gotten to know him away from Hollywood, and hung out. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be, but what a great memory,” Walmsley continued.