In Memoriam: “Mr. Bojangles” Singer Jerry Jeff Walker
Beloved country singer Jerry Jeff Walker – best known for his oft-covered track “Mr. Bojangles” – died on Oct. 23 after a battle with cancer. He was 78.
Born Ronald Clyde Crosby and raised in Oneonta, New York, Walker cut his teeth busking and hitchhiking through the American South after going AWOL from the National Guard. He took the stage name Jerry Jeff Walker in 1966, and released 36 albums through his career, including his aforementioned favorite Mr Bojangles.
According to his memoir Gypsy Songman, “Mr. Bojangles” was inspired by “the memory of folks [Walker] met in jail cells in Columbus and New Orleans… And it just came out: ‘Knew a man Bojangles, and he danced for you…’”
In the days after his passing, a number of country stars memorialized Walker via social media.
“Me and Amanda Shires were backing up Todd Snider one night in Austin and Jerry Jeff jumped up and did ‘Mr Bojangles’ with us, and he took his shoes off when got onstage so he could dance,” recalled Jason Isbell via Twitter. He later added, “One day I’d like to be an old man who dances onstage like John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.”
Watch Snider’s full, Oct. 24 tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker and watch the aforementioned Snider/Isbell/Shires/ Walker collaboration below: