‘The Waltons’: Jason Actor Jon Walmsley Traded Acting for Music, is Now a Successful Blues Musician

by Matthew Memrick
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There was no drop-off after Jason Walton actor Jon Walmsley left “The Waltons,” and he launched a successful career as a blues musician.

The 65-year-old Walmsley picked up his guitar and made a second career for himself. He went on to play all kinds of music over the years, including 1980s soft rocker Richard Marx.

Walmsley still came back for Walton reunions in the 1980s and 90s. He also lent his voice to Christopher Robin for Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” short film series.

“The Waltons” Actor Appeals To Fans

Jon Walmsley says his blues stylings are new to fans, but the music inspired him from his time on “The Waltons.”

IMDb said that Walmsley appeared on every episode of the long-running show with Ben Walton actor Eric Scott. 

“I remember listening to early rock n’ roll first, and I started playing guitar at age eight,” Walmsley told Billboard magazine. “I didn’t realize until I was about 13 that the thing I loved about early rock n’ roll was the bluesy elements.” 

The actor said Elvis Presley influenced him, and he came up with his own “very swampy” version of “Hound Dog.” He also covered songs from B.B. King (“Three O’Clock Blues,” “The Thrill Is Gone”) for his 2017 record “Goin’ To Clarksdale.”

Covering King’s music was challenging for the musician. He had so much respect for the blues legend and the song’s iconic status he didn’t want to mess it up. He wanted to do it with lots of care.

Walmsley gave it a shot and considered the version successful. He told Billboard that “it has a sound and an ambiance” unlike any other on the CD. He admits he doesn’t quite know how the song progressed but loved its final version.

It’s almost as if the song to him was “meant to be on the album.”

“Waltons” Actor Inspired By Trip to Mississippi

A Memphis Western Film Festival gig helped inspire Walmsley’s record. In fact, it was a couple of gigs that the actor did with his wife Marion in tow.

Walmsley said the couple went early one year and took a Blues Trail trip through the Mississippi Delta. When they stopped in Clarksdale, he said he “just got inspired, and it was time to do a blues project.”

Merle Haggard Left A Mark On “Waltons” Star

Musicians flocked to the long-running show when it began in September 1972, and Walmsley was right there in the middle of it. The influences rubbed off on the actor, and he even performed at the Grand Ole Opry a couple of times. 

In October 1976, Country Music Hall of Fame member Merle Haggard guest-starred on the series in the role of musician Red Turner. The young actor said that working with the legendary performer was an unforgettable experience. 

Outsider.com