Jerry Jeff Walker Dead At 78

Paul Natkin Archive/Getty Images

Jerry Jeff Walker Dead At 78

Paul Natkin Archive/Getty Images

Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker, best known for writing the 1968 song “Mr. Bojangles,” has died, Rolling Stone reports. He passed away Friday following a battle with throat cancer. He was 78.

Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, New York, Walker played in local bands from a young age. When he graduated high school, he took off to travel across the country, busking for a living while making his way through New York, New Orleans, Florida, and Texas. His most famous song and first hit, “Mr. Bojangles,” was inspired by a homeless street performer he met in a New Orleans drunk tank. It would go on to be covered by Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond, Sammy Davis Jr., and more.

After adopting the stage name Jerry Jeff Walker and palling around the Greenwich Village folk scene for a few years in the mid-’60s, Walker settled in Austin, Texas. There, he became associated with the nascent outlaw country scene and other artists like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Michael Martin Murphey. He recorded a string of albums for MCA and Elektra, including the beloved 1973 live album ┬íViva Terlingua! with the Lost Gonzo Band.

Walker was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2017. He released his final album, It’s About Time, a year later. He is survived by his wife and manager Susan Streit, their daughter Jessie Jane, and their son Django Walker, who is also a musician. Revisit some of his work below.

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