Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Phillip Walker - Walking with Frankie

Phillip Walker (February 11, 1937 – July 22, 2010) was an American electric blues guitarist, most noted for his 1959 hit single, "Hello My Darling", produced by J. R. Fulbright. Although Walker continued playing throughout his life, he recorded more sparsely.

Phillip was the seventh of twelve children of Malvin and Viola Weber Walker, sharecroppers who were married at ages 14 and 13 and began raising a family when they were only children themselves. Malvin was a smart hardworking farmer who always managed, somehow, to keep a roof over the heads of his family. Malvin could fix anything, and Phillip seems to have followed in his dad's footsteps with a mechanical aptitude nothing short of amazing. When Phillip was 8 years old his family moved to Port Arthur, Texas. It is this combination of Louisiana Creole, French, and Indian (his mother’s mother was full-blooded Cherokee), and Texas western gunslinger that combines to prod Phillip’s unique speech patterns, accent and dialect. His mother spoke in the French Creole dialect (Cajun) of the area.

Things went smoothly in Port Arthur for a while, but by the time he was 12 years old, his father’s health had begun to fail and the biggest and strongest boys were expected to get the crops in. From that time, as happened in so many poor families, attendance at school became sporadic, and Phillip’s formal education was essentially finished. Phillip’s uncles, (his mother’s five brothers, including Uncle Phillip Weber), all played in bands in the 20’s and 30’s and often came around and played guitar; musicianship runs in the family. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown is a second cousin. [For the record, Aaron “T-Bone” Walker, who also had a full-blooded Cherokee grandmother does not appear to be related to Phillip, though it has been documented otherwise in quite a few places and there is some question.] Phillip became interested in music at a young age. Not being able to afford a guitar of his own (his work in the fields earned no cash), Phillip constructed his first instrument from a cigar box, using the thinnest wire he could find (carefully and secretly removed from the family’s window screens) for strings. He had a natural ear and a God-given musical talent, and became very good quite early. He spent every spare minute, when he wasn’t working in the fields or helping herd or brand cattle, learning his instrument. He would play softly into the middle of the night, and to this day rarely sleeps more than 5 hours at a stretch.

Musically, Mr. Walker is an innovator. He breaks the rules. He makes it work. And what he brings to the places he goes is an All-American zest for life, evident at all times in his "up close and personal" music. Phillip seems to also contradict the rules in that his live performances are every bit as good as his recordings, if not better! Infused by the energy of the crowds he draws, he and his band create an environment with their music where people just can't help getting up and dancing their blues away. When questioned by the blues traditionalists as to how his music can be called "blues," Walker most often responds: "Why not?"

Todays tune "Walking with Frankie" is taken from Walker's final studio release is "Going Back Home" (2007).

More info @

Official Phillip Walker Web

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