T-Bone Walker

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About T-Bone Walker

Born in Linden, Texas, in 1910, singer and guitarist T-Bone Walker (né Aaron Thibeaux Walker) was one of the most important and influential blues artists in music history. Although he was taught by his stepfather, Marco Washington, to play various instruments, he was also a protégé of fellow singer and guitarist Blind Lemon Jefferson, guiding him to gigs around Dallas when Walker was a teenager. Walker released his first record for Columbia in 1929 as Oak Cliff T-Bone; his career took off after he relocated to Los Angeles in 1935, working for bandleader Les Hite while beginning to perform under his own name. An engagement in Chicago in 1942 kickstarted his solo career, and he started cutting records in 1945, pushing his blues and jazz roots toward a more urbane sound and pioneering the jump blues. In 1947 he recorded his most famous track, “Call It Stormy Monday,” a sultry ballad that rhapsodized heartbreak with unmatched poetry and pathos, a lamentation that, like his greatest recordings, addresses suffering with artful resignation. His blend of soulful singing, virtuosic guitar playing, and understated elegance solidified his status as a major touring artist through the 1940s and ’50s, driven by a string of hits for the Black & White and Imperial labels. Walker slowed down in the latter part of the 1950s, dropping a single classic album for Atlantic in 1959 that more or less summed up his accomplishments with remakes of old favorites that helped him reach a wider audience. Although Walker’s urban sound prevented him from capitalizing on the blues-folk revival of the early ’60s, he continued to tour and record sporadically throughout the 1960s. Health problems slowed his activity considerably in the 1970s, and a stroke in 1974 sidelined him until his death the following year.

Linden, TX, United States
May 28, 1910
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