Note: this Jimmy Walker is not the black Blues artist or Country musician of the same name listed here
Born in the Bronx, New York, I started singing on the neighborhood street corner, harmonizing acapella versions of radio hits with three friends and later adding drums and guitars, learning along the way, playing local events and parties. We called the group the CASTLE KINGS after Castle Hill Ave., the street where we started singing. We recorded a demo of a couple of songs and peddled it to several record companies. Mickey Addey of Dot records wanted to sign us after a chance meeting in front of Dot records with AHMET ERTEGUN of Atlantic records who was listening to the group singing harmony while waiting for a ride. Ahmet offered the band a meeting and within a week signed the group to a contract. After a year and several recordings with people like Tommy Dowd, Phil Ele, PHIL SPECTOR and with a wealth of experience and great memories, the group split up and went its own way.
I moved to Bergenfield, New Jersey, and worked as a truck driver for a couple of years. On a Saturday afternoon, I heard the KNICKERBOCKERS playing a gig for the local volunteer fire dept. on Memorial Day and was knocked out by their tight powerful sound and knew that I wanted to join their band. A few weeks later, I got a call from the bass player John Charles, looking for a drummer. As luck would have it, they asked me to join and the Knickerbockers were on their way. After playing up and down the East Coast, we hit it big locally in the Tri Cities area of Albany, Schenectady and Troy where we met songwriter JERRY FULLER in a club in Albany, he was booked as a singer promoting his own career. Recently discharged from the army, travelling to New York City to open an East Coast office of Four Star Publishing, a successful publishing company in Los Angeles. He signed the group to a record deal with CHALLENGE records and began his own career as a producer. He recorded the band in New York and got a regional hit that he wrote called “All I Need Is You” with me singing lead. That led to performing as an opening act in concerts with Roy Orbison, Peter & Gordon, Manfred Mann and the Rolling Stones amongst others, gaining valuable experience, playing in front of thousands of young people in major venues.
Jerry convinced us to come out to California to try to get the band to make it nationally. The group went to L.A where Jerry got us booked at a Hollywood nightclub called THE RED VELVET where we performed for a month and quickly became popular with the SHINDING TV crowd and L.A Disc Jockey B. Mitchell Reed of KFWB. Jerry recorded the band at Sunset Sound with engineer Bruce Botnick. The song was “LIES” penned by guitarist Beau Charles and saxophonist Buddy Randell. B Mitchell Reed played it on his show and within two weeks, the song was played nationally and within a month, was a smash hit. For two years, the Knickerbockers did concerts all across country including two tours with the DICK CLARK “WHERE THE ACTION IS” TV show, featuring Paul Revere & the Raiders and old friends the Rascals. We became regulars on “Where The Action Is”, also appearing in “SHINDING”, “SHIVAREE”, LLOYD THAXTON, HULLABALLU, AMERICAN BANDSTAND and many other TV shows.
I then accepted an offer by BOBBY HATFIELD to replace BILL MEDLEY with the RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS. For the next four years, we played major venues such as the Coconut Grove in L.A, the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and many concerts at major Universities throughout the U.S, as well as Japan and the Philippines. We recorded an album called “REBIRTH” on which I played drums on all the tracks and wrote one of the songs called “Nobody’s Gonna Take Me”. We also appeared on several TV shows including GLEN CAMPBELL GOODTIME HOUR, THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS, STEVE ALLEN, JOEY BISHOP and SAM RIDDLE. During this period, Jerry Fuller signed me to a COLUMBIA record deal and I recorded several singles. Also at that time I recorded a final solo album with Challenge records.
After leaving the Righteous Brothers, I joined a Californian band called FATBACK with former Righteous Brothers’ guitarist BARRY RILLERA and his brother Butch Rillera, also formerly with the Righteous Brothers as the drummer. The band added to my musical knowledge in Jazz, Latin and the Blues. After a few years, an offer came from one of the many contacts made with the Brothers. A sax player, JIM WALLER, asked me to play drums with a band he was putting together in Fresno called OASIS. The band was one of the best musical events in my career and did concerts with Roberta Flack, the Commodores, the Temptations, Tower Of Power etc. I got in touch with my old friend Jerry Fuller who recorded the band at Wally Heiders in San Francisco and did an album. I wrote and sang all the songs with guitarist Coleman Head. Although it was a good album, it only did well locally. During this time, I met BRUCE CONTE, guitarist with TOWER OF POWER, who later recruited me to play drums and sing with his band HOT STREET. The band did very well playing venues all throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from Santa Rosa to San Luis Obispo, down to Fresno and the inner city of San Francisco and Oakland.
Around 2004, I relocated to Las Vegas and teamed up with an old friend, JEFF PALMER, whom I knew from my days with Oasis in Fresno. Jeff is a successful businessman who kept his hand in music and his keyboard playing. He built a home studio, recording his own style of original Jazz compositions. We collaborated on my original material and produced “PLAYING TO WIN” released in 2009. Around the same time, I put together my own band consisting of keyboardist PAT MARLIN, guitarist TIM MANION, bass player CARL GOTTMAN and saxophonist DEWEY DEHRAN. We played in local venues, including BB KING'S, gaining notoriety and building a fan base.
I moved back to California two years ago and performed with various musicians including the great Blues player ALVON JOHNSON and bass player BILL McCUBBIN. Guitarist Tim Manion now lives in Los Angeles. We teamed up to work on a new album with several songs of my own material. We recorded it in a great little studio in Sebastopol owned by musician and engineer JOHN SIMON. My good friend BOBBY SANTA CRUZ joined us on bass, BERNIE RIVERA on saxophone and John playing the keyboard and piano parts. It's called "Still There In My Soul". I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we did making it!
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