The death of country music singer Jerry Jeff Walker, the man behind “Mr. Bojangles,” got the attention of two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning on Saturday.
Walker died on Friday after fighting a battle with throat cancer and related ailments for several years. He was 78.
“RIP Jerry Jeff Walker. Great Gonzos was one of the first cd’s that I bought. Growing up his music was a staple in the Manning Household.”
Earlier in the day, former president Bill Clinton also paid tribute to the late musician.
Background of Jerry Jeff Walker
Walker got into the folk music scene in the 1960’s. After spending a night in a New Orleans drunk tank, Walker wrote “Mr. Bojangles,” the song he is best known for. It would go on to become a hit and encourage several covers by other famous artists including Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr.
Furthermore, Walker had a huge impact on the country music scene in Texas after moving there in 1971. He was responsible in helping to create the genre known as “outlaw country.” This sort of blend between rock and folk music was also made popular by Willie Nelson and others around the same time.
“Other than Willie, Jerry Jeff is the most important musician to happen to Austin, Texas, I would have to say,” Ray Benson of of “Asleep at the Wheel” told the Tennessean. “He really brought that folksinger/songwriter form to its height in Texas. And for that, he’ll be eternal, because there’s all these kids today that write songs in that mode.”
Walker first found out that he had throat cancer in 2017. He told the Austin American Statesman in 2018 that he had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
“I guess I took my singing for granted, and now I don’t,” he told the newspaper.
An announcement came in 2017 that Walker had donated more than 100 boxes of his music archives to The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. Some of the donations included tapes, photographs, hand-written lyrics and artifacts.
Walker’s survivors include his wife, Susan, daughter, Jessie Jane, and son, Django.
“He was at home until an hour before his passing,” his wife of 46 years, Susan Walker, told the Austin American-Statesman. “He went very peacefully, which we were extremely grateful for.”