Tuesday, 10 May 2011
John Walker RIP
John Walker, who died on May 7 aged 67, founded The Walker Brothers, the American trio which came to Britain in the 1960s and briefly rivalled in popularity The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
6:25PM BST 09 May 2011
The Walker Brothers specialised in heavily-produced, booming, often lachrymose ballads which — along with their good looks — found particular favour with teenage girls. The group consisted of John Walker on guitar, Scott Engel on bass and Gary Leeds on drums; they were not related, and each adopted the surname Walker.
Their hits included The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore; Love Her; Make it Easy On Yourself; and My Ship Is Comin’ In. John Walker and Scott Engel provided the vocals, although the latter was always regarded as the more charismatic. John himself admitted: “I haven’t got the same kind of depth to my voice that Scott has, but I do have a good voice for the up-tempo discs. ”
John Walker was born John Joseph Maus on November 12 1943 in New York, but the family moved to California when he was three. He began as a child actor, appearing alongside Betty Hutton in the television sitcom Hello Mom, but in 1957 formed a duo, John and Judy, with his sister. They later met Scott Engel, and, with “Spider” Webb on drums, performed as Judy and the Gents.
John began using the professional name Walker when he was 17 . By late 1964 he, Engel and Gary Leeds had formed The Walker Brothers in Los Angeles — and it was Leeds, who had toured Britain with PJ Proby, who is said to have suggested that they try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic. It was an era when the ambition of most British bands was to crack the American market.
“Gary said we could do really well there,” Scott recalled later. “I wanted to get out of America anyway and go to Europe because I’d always been a European film freak. I wanted to see if I could meet Ingmar Bergman and a few other people. So the three of us came over and started going slowly broke. Nothing was happening and we were freezing to death. Straight from California to this in February 1965.”
In June that year, however, the group had its first big success, reaching the Top 20 with Love Her. They appeared on the television show Thank Your Lucky Stars, on which they were mobbed by female fans, and their next single, Burt Bacharach’s and Hal David’s Make It Easy On Yourself, went straight to No 1 that August. At Christmas the group was at No 3 with My Ship Is Coming In, and in March 1966 they scored their second No 1 with The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.
This proved to be the height of The Walkers’ popularity. Relations between John and Scott were becoming strained, and in April 1967 they played what turned out to be their last British gig, at the Granada in Tooting. Scott announced that he was leaving the group, John Walker remarking: “If Scott quits then that’s it as far as I’m concerned – he is the Walker Brothers.”
John Walker came up with a solo hit, Annabella, and a couple of albums, If You Go Away and This Is John Walker; Scott embarked on his own successful solo career.
In 1975 The Walker Brothers re-formed and attempted a comeback, and a single — a version of Tom Rush’s No Regrets — made the UK’s Top 10. But three albums later, in the late 1970s, they again went their separate ways.
In the late 1980s John Walker moved to San Diego, where he established his own recording studio. He also formed his own publishing company and record label. He remained popular in Britain, where he toured as part of a Silver 60s show until his health declined. Last December he was diagnosed with liver cancer, but he continued to work until only a few weeks ago, making his last concert appearance in Los Angeles in March.
In 2009, with Gary Leeds, he published a book, The Walker Brothers: No Regrets — Our Story.
John Walker was four times married, and is survived by his fourth wife, Cynthia, and by two sons and two daughters.
John Maus RIP
John was a good guy and very talented. He'd seen it all, although I hate to see him go. For any of you who don't know much, here's some info about John.
He was Born John Maus 11/12/43 in NYC, he died 5/7/11 in Glendale, Ca (Liver cancer)
John's family moved to California in 1947 and he was a child actor in TV and film. He appeared in the TV shows Peck's Bad Girl, Playhouse 90, Eddie Fisher Xmas Special, Hey Mom, and in the films The Eddie Duchin Story (1956) and Missouri Traveller (1958).
In 1958 he formed the singing duo "John and Judy" with his older sister Judy Maus. "John and Judy" signed to Dore Records and had a So. Cal radio hit with the song "Hideout". They also recorded for the Arve and Admiral labels. John befriended and performed locally with Richie Valens in 1958. He became the first guitar teacher for Beach Boys Carl Wilson and David Marks in 1959. John partnered with singer/bassist Scott Engel in 1962. They changed their name to The Walker Brothers in 1964 and became a top draw at Gazzari's nightclub on Sunset Blvd. The Walker Brothers were regulars on TV's Shindig! in 1964/65 and were signed to Mercury Records in late 1964 by Nik Venet. John and Scott joined with drummer Gary Leeds of the Standells, who became the third Walker Brother in 1965. The trio moved to the U.K. Feb 1965. John also married popular singer Kathy Young in 1965.
The Walker Brothers released their classic hits "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", both reaching #1 in the U.K. in 1965 and 1966. After two years of massive success they broke up following a 1968 tour of Japan. John Walker released solo material for Phillips Records in 1968 and a 1969 solo LP on the Carnaby label in 1969. He recorded an unreleased solo LP with Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman producing, recorded in France in spring 1971 with appearances by Keith Richards, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Nicky Hopkins. The Walker Brothers reunited in 1974 with their hit record "No Regrets". In the 1980's John performed in the Monster Rock and Roll Show oldies UK tour with Screaming Lord Sutch, Dave Dee and others. In the 2000's John performed regularly in the UK as a popular oldies act backed by The Dakotas.
We've lost a very important connection to the earliest days of the Beach Boys, and one of the major stars of sixties pop/rock. John's harmony voice and his cool guitar licks made an impact. I'm gonna miss him.
-Jon Stebbins (author of Dennis Wilson: The Real Beach Boy and The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks, One of the Founding Members of the Beach Boys)