Joe Louis Walker

Joe Louis Walker
Joe Louis Walker

Known as JLW, Californian blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Joe Louis Walker’s early influences include T-Bone Walker, BB King, Amos Milburn and Meade Lux Lewis.

Walker began playing guitar at the age of eight and had built quite a reputation by the time he was sixteen and been influenced by music he encountered as a young teenager, including James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. He played with such artists as John Lee Hooker, Buddy Miles, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Steve Miller, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and many more. After the death of his close friend Mike Bloomfield, he forsook the world of blues to enrol at University and get a degree in Music and English. JLW returned to his blues roots in 1985 and the following year released his debut album, Cold is the Night and undertook a world tour. Four more albums followed between 1988 and 1992, The Gift, Blue Soul, Live at Slim’s Vol 1 and Live at Slim’s Vol 2. In 1988 and 1991 JLW won Contemporary Male Artist of the Year Award.

By 1993 he’d left the High-Tone label for Polygram and released the album Blues Survivor and the same year JLW duetted with BB King on his Grammy Award-winning Blue Summit album. The song was a JLW original, Everybody’s Had the Blues. The self-named JLW album was released in 1994 as he played many of the world’s music festivals including Montreux and Glastonbury. Steve Cropper produced three More Joe Louis Walker albums during the second half of the 90s, Blues of the Month Club, Great Guitars and Deep in the Blues, a Grammy-Award winner for ‘best Traditional Blues Album.’ There were another nine albums between 1998 and 2006 and in the 2000s he released albums on Stony Plain Records and Alligator Records, including the much-praised Hellfire. Joe Louis Walker was inducted into the Blue Hall of Fame in 2013, the same year being nominated in four categories for a Blues Music Award. His 2015 album Everybody Wants a Piece was also nominated for a Grammy,

In 2002 JLW performed Who Do You Love on the Bo Diddley Tribute album Hey Bo Diddley…A Tribute! Fitting then that his copy of Buddy Holly’s J-45 is Bo Diddley.

“The presentation to me, of the replica of Buddy Holly’s acoustic guitar, was such a beautiful experience and and I’m very grateful to the Buddy Holly Educational Fund, Maria Elena Holly, Peter Bradley Snr & Jnr.”

Beth Nielsen Chapman