AUSTIN, Texas — Austin musician and outlaw country pioneer Jerry Jeff Walker has died at age 78, according to multiple sources including American Songwriter and The Hollywood Reporter.
Most widely known for writing "Mr. Bojangles," Walker is known to Texans as something of a founding father of the outlaw country sound alongside contemporaries like Willie Nelson and Gary P. Nunn.
Walker was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, New York. He was part of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene before adopting his new name in 1966 and writing "Mr. Bonjangles" in 1968, based on a stint in a New Orleans drunk tank.
Walker's version of the song only reached No. 77 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, but the version recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970 was a big hit and the song has been recorded by well over 100 artists since.
In the early 1970s, Walker moved to Austin and "reinvented himself as a Lone Star country-rocker," according to his official website. His website states he has been a "fountainhead and inspiration" to younger musicians such as Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Jack Ingram and Garth Brooks.
Walker recorded a string of mainstream records for MCA and Elektra before forming his own independent record label, Tried & True Music, in 1986.
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