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Jerry Jeff Walker, a singer-songwriter who shaped the sound of Austin, Texas' country music scene, died on Friday (Oct. 23) at the age of 78, CNY News and Galleywinter report. No cause of death has been announced.
Born Ronald Clyde Crosby on March 16, 1942 in Oneonta, New York, the future Jerry Jeff Walker came of age around rock 'n' roll and the folk revival. After a stint with psychedelic rock band Circus Maximus, Walker flew solo with 1968 album Mr. Bojangles. Its title track remains one of Walker's best-known composition, due in part to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1970 version.
Walker relocated to Austin by the '70s. During his mainstream run with MCA and Elektra/Asylum, Walker elevated the work of his peers through covers of songs written by Guy Clark ("LA Freeway"), Ray Wylie Hubbard ("Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother"), Michael Martin Murphey ("Backslider's Wine") and Gary P. Nunn ("London Homesick Blues").
Per his website, Walker "served as a fountainhead and inspiration to younger musicians such as Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Jack Ingram and a moderately successful country tunesmith named Garth Brooks."
Another contribution to Texas music and the country genre as a whole came as the 1973 live album Viva Terlingua. Recorded in Luckenbach, the album sums up the songwriting brilliance of Walker and his Lone Star State peers while showcasing The Lost Gonzo Band, a legendary backing band featuring Nunn.
Read More: How Jerry Jeff Walker's 'Viva Terlingua' Shaped Outlaw Country Music
Other selections from Walker's massive back catalog include a trio of Top 20 country albums: Ridin' High (1975), It's a Good Night For Singin' (1976) and A Man Must Carry On (1977). Later offerings issued by Walker's own Tried & True Music include Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits (1998), which was recorded in Belize, and 2008's Moon Child.
Walker and his wife/manager Susan have a daughter named Jessie Jane and a son, fellow musician Django Walker.
For more on Walker's life and legacy, check out his memoir, Gypsy Songman.
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