How ‘The Waltons’ Star Jon Walmsley Paid Tribute to Bo Diddley Through Music

by Keeli Parkey
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“The Waltons” was a television show that told the stories of three generations of one family. One of the actors who played one of the members of the younger generation on the beloved family drama was Jon Walmsley. He brought the character of Jason Walton to life.

After “The Waltons” came to an end, Walmsley switched careers. He moved from acting to music. Walmsley has worked as a composer and a musician. He toured with Richard Marx during the 1980s. He has even played on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

While he performed on one of the biggest and most important stages in country music, Jon Walmsley is not known as a country music artist. He is actually a blues artist. And on one of his albums, he paid tribute to another blues artist. This other artist was the legendary Bo Diddley.

Walmsley talked about this during a June 2017 interview with Billboard. With the album, which was titled “Goin’ To Clarksdale,” Walmsley went back in time. “The Waltons” star used old songs that were made popular by artists such as Bo Diddley. One of the songs on the album is “You Can’t Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover.”

‘The Waltons’ Star Jon Walmsley Experienced a Classic Blues Song During a Monkees Concert

That track was Willie Dixon’s, but it was Diddley who made it popular. Interestingly though, it wasn’t Bo Diddley’s version of the song that brought it to Walmsley’s attention.

“Oddly, the first time I had ever heard this song was at a Monkees concert in 1967. My parents took me – at this point I was already playing guitar and acting – to a Monkees concert at the Hollywood Bowl,” “The Waltons” star explained. “At one point in the show, each guy in the (Monkees) had a solo tune, and Mike Nesmith’s solo tune was ‘You Can’t Judge a Book.’ He put the guitar down, and just sang and played maracas.”

At that young age, Jon Walmsley was not aware that the song was “the blues.”

“This was before I realized it was the blues,” Walmsley also said. “Bo Diddley had a fellow in his band named Jerome, who was so important to him that he wrote a song with his name in it. I had to play maracas on my version – as well as some blues harmonica on it as well.”

His album, “Goin’ To Clarksdale,” was a labor of love for “The Waltons” star.

“I played all the instruments on the album, and recorded it and mixed it myself. It was mastered by Brad Vance, a friend of mine, in L.A.,” Jon Walmsley also shared. “My goal was to create that old, raw blues feeling. So, I played everything and went for it, and left the mistakes in – just like the old records!”

Outsider.com