Walker, part of the 2001 SPI relief concert, dies at 78

FILE - This Oct. 30, 2005 file photo shows Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker at a campaign fundraiser at Willie Nelson's ranch outside Austin, Texas. The Texas country singer and songwriter who wrote the pop song “Mr. Bojangles," has died at age 78. Family spokesman John T. Davis says Walker died Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 of cancer after battling throat cancer and other health issues for several years. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)

Late in 2001, South Padre Island was mourning 8 people killed and three others injured from the Sept. 15, 2001 Queen Isabella Causeway collapse—and the community was navigating the fallout of losing the Island’s only bridge access.

It was a time that stands out as an unforgettable memory for any Island resident of that time.

And on Nov. 28 of that year, country music superstar Garth Brooks played on the flats north of the South Padre Island Convention Centre to lift the community’s spirits in a free concert that was nationally televised. Despite the cold rain, the country music legend played to adoring crowds.

He also brought one of his own inspirations to the stage that night for a couple songs.

Jerry Jeff Walker, famous Texas singer and songwriter, performed alongside Brooks his hits “Mr. Bojangles” and “Texas On My Mind.”

Walker’s performance might have been on my locals’ minds as news surfaced that the songwriter died Friday, Oct. 23 at the age of 78.

“He had battled throat cancer for many years, and some other health issues,” family spokesman John T. Davis told The Associated Press.

Walker emerged from New York’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the 1960s and he was a founding member of the band Circus Maximus. He moved to Texas in the 1970s and in 1972 scored a hit with his version of the Guy Clark song “L.A. Freeway.”

Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band in 1973 recorded an album live in Texas called “Viva Terlingua” that became a classic of the country-rock scene. Walker had since released more than 30 albums.

In 1986, he formed independent music label Tried & True Music and released albums under it.

Walker was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2017, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, he told the Austin American Statesman in 2018.

“I guess I took my singing for granted, and now I don’t,” he told the newspaper.

In 2017, it was announced that Walker had donated more than 100 boxes of his music archives to The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, including tapes, photographs, hand-written lyrics and artifacts.

Walker’s survivors include his wife, Susan, son, Django, and daughter, Jessie Jane.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.