Jerry Jeff Walker

POSTED: October 26, 2020

Jerry Jeff Walker has died at the age of 78, from complications arising from throat cancer.

I have had his music in my life since my student days and, for whatever it might seem worth, my favourite album of his remainsWalker’s Collectibles, a stoned delight from the 1974, although it does not appear to appear in many other people’s lists.

I have seen him live twice and the time that sticks in my mind happened sometime in the nineteen eighties at the Oval pub in South London. He and Guy Clark had a tour of Europe in which they both appeared solo: a cheap and cheerful tour involving two economy seats and two acoustic guitars.

The night I saw them Jerry Jeff Walker went on first and then after the interval Guy Clark appeared, too drunk to do anything except sit there and grin. After a few failed attempts to introduce a song, and then a few failed attempts to say anything remotely coherent, Jerry Jeff Walker reappeared with his guitar and a stool, and sat down next to Guy Clark.

Within a few minutes he had manged to make it appear almost as though the whole thing formed part of their act. He talked and Guy Clark nodded along, and then he started one of Guy Clark’s songs, and took the lead while Guy Clark joined in as and when he could.

It helped that Jerry Jeff Walker had recorded a number of Guy Clark songs, but it still seemed a remarkably selfless act of friendship. By the end of the evening Guy Clark had sobered up enough to take charge of some of the songs, and they formed a genuine double act.