Kix Brooks, of Brooks and Dunn, mourned the death of Jerry Jeff Walker. The songwriter passed away on Friday (Oct. 23) at age 78. Walker had a decades-long career as a singer and songwriter. But he’s perhaps best remembered as the writer for the classic song “Mr. Bojangles.”
In a Twitter post, Brooks expressed a heartfelt tribute to his friend. He revealed that Walker helped him land a gig in the 1970s when Brooks was just beginning his career. He also expressed thoughts for late songwriter Guy Clark who passed away in 2016.
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.”
In 2007, Brooks repaid Walker’s kindness with a tribute song called “The Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker.” The song featured on the Brooks and Dunn album Cowboy Town. The song also featured Walker.
For Artists Like Kix Brooks, Jerry Jeff Walker Was An Inspiration
Walker spent over six decades writing and recording music. He was prolific both as a songwriter and singer. In 2018, Walker released his last album It’s About Time. He was a staple in the music scene in Austin, Texas. There, he worked with artists such as Willie Nelson, Gary Nunn, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Todd Snider.
But Walker was born far away from Texas in Oneonta, New York on March 16, 1942. His birth name was Ronald Clyde Crosby. He started his music career in the 1960s playing in the Greenwich Village in New York City. But he soon left the city for the South afterward.
Walker found his inspiration for “Mr. Bojangles” while in New Orleans in 1965. Police officers had arrested Walker for public intoxication there. He spent the night in jail with a street performer, whose story inspired the lyrics for the song. The song proved both popular and iconic with several famous musicians putting their own spin on the tune. Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis Jr., and Neil Diamond were among them.
Walker is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Jessie Jane, and his son Django.