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Country music singer Jerry Jeff Walker, the man behind the movie “Mr. Bogangels”, died Friday after battling throat cancer. He was 78 years old.
“He was at home until an hour before his death,” Susan Walker, his 46-year-old wife, told the Austin Statesman newspaper. “He went very safely, and we are very grateful to him.”
Born in New York in 1942, Ronald Clyde Crosby, Walker cut his teeth at the popular music scene in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. After spending a night in a drunken reservoir in New Orleans in the mid-1960s, Walker wrote “Mr. Bogangels,” which would become a hit and attract many covers by other famous artists including Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, and Sammy Davis Jr.
After moving to Austin in 1971, Locker had a major influence on the country music scene there, helping to create a musical genre known as the “Outlaw State” – a kind of fusion of rock and folk music – which Willie Nelson and others were famous at the same time. .
“Unlike Willie, Jerry Jeff is the hottest musician to have happened in Austin, Texas, I have to say,” Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel told the Tennessee newspaper. “It really brought this singer / songwriter look to its heyday in Texas. And for that, it’s going to be eternal, because there are all these kids today writing songs in this mode.”
Fans of Jimmy Buffett might have Walker to thank him for his relationship with Key West. In Buffett’s 1998 biography, Walker is credited with introducing “all the funky bars and watering holes” from Miami to Key West.
During his 51-year career, Walker released 36 albums. Avoiding what he viewed as sterile recording studios, Walker recorded many of his albums at home or in various ballrooms.
In the mid-1980s, Walker and his wife formed their own label, Tried & True Music, which they ran out of their home in Austin. The local label handled all Walker reservations, tour promotions, merchandise and publicity.
In a 2018 interview with The Statesman, Walker noted that he and his wife had done well to two people who didn’t know much about the music business.
“We make it out of the air,” Walker said, comparing his brand to that of the more well-known companies. “These people have no idea how things are going any more than we do.”