Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker was born in San Francisco on Christmas Day 1949 and raised in a house filled with blues music. After picking up his first guitar at age 12 and playing music with his cousins for a few years, Walker started playing professionally at 16 with such luminaries as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Fred McDowell, and Earl Hooker.

Later, living in San Francisco with Michael Bloomfield led to opportunities to jam with the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Electric Flag. Eventually, Bloomfield turned him on to the Chicago scene, where Walker soaked up the sounds of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Otis Rush.

In 1975, he switched gears and became a member of the gospel group the Spiritual Corinthians, with whom he played guitar, wrote songs, and toured for the next 10 years before returning to the blues. He signed with HighTone Records in 1986 and released five acclaimed albums over the next six years. For his efforts, he was awarded W.C. Handy Awards in 1988, ’89, and ’90 as Contemporary Blues Artist of the Year. He later moved to the Verve label and released seven more recordings.

Walker’s Jubilee performance spotlights tunes from Silvertone Blues (1999). That album took him all the way back to his roots, with stirring acoustic performances and stinging, stripped-down electric tracks that vividly display his most traditional leanings.

This artist appears in Jubilee #712: Joe Louis Walker.