AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess) — Texas singer-songwriter and outlaw country pioneer Jerry Jeff Walker died in Austin, Texas on Friday. He was 78.
His former publicist John T. Davis told the New York Times that Walker died of cancer but did not provide additional details about the cause of death. Walker revealed in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer.
Walker is best known for writing his 1968 hit “Mr. Bojangles” which tells the melancholic story of an alcoholic New Orleans tap dancer and would become his most covered song.
Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneota, New York, Walker did a brief stint in the military before pursuing the life of an itinerant musician, busking for a living throughout the American South.
In the mid 1960s, he landed in the folk scene of New York City’s Greenwich Village, where he co-founded the band Circus Maximus with Bob Bruno. The group scored several modest hits before creative differences prompted Walker to return to a career as a solo artist and releasing his debut solo album Mr. Bojangles in 1968.
In the early 1970s, he settled in Austin where he helped to shape the Outlaw Country scene with the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Guy Clark.
In 1974, Walker married Susan Streit, with whom he partnered for the launch of Tried & True Records. Streit went on to found Goodknight Music and Tried & True Artists to handle his management and bookings, respectively, for Walker.
In his later years, Walker staged an annual birthday bash in Austin at the Paramount Theatre and at Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas which grew to become legendary events that featured some of the biggest names in Outlaw Country.