Jr. Walker & The All Stars were a highly acclaimed R&B group led by tenor saxophonist Autry DeWalt Walker (June 14, 1931 - November 23, 1995) that became famous during the late 1960s. Their unique sound came from Walker's howling killer sax solos alternated with his powerful, gritty lead vocals. Their best known songs include the funky dance smash, "Shotgun" (1965), and the soulful, lovelorn ballad, "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" (1969).
Born in Blytheville, Arkansas and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Walker began playing the saxophone in high school and by the mid 1950s, had formed his first band, The Jumping Jacks. The band that would later come to be known as Jr. Walker & The All Stars was made up of members of The Jumping Jacks and those of The Rhythm Rockers, a group led by drummer Billy Nicks. In addition to Walker, the lineup also included James Graves (drums), Victor Thomas (organ, keyboards), and Willie Woods (guitar), with a number of personnel changes. In 1961, Walker and his band were discovered by Johnny Bristol (of "Hang On In There Baby" fame), who brought them to the attention of Harvey Fuqua, leading to a contract soon after with Fuqua's same-named label. Walker followed Fuqua to Motown and remained with the legendary label throughout most of his recording career with the All Stars.
Jr. Walker & The All Stars debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1962 with the bluesy instrumental, "Cleo's Mood," which was later followed with the similarly-themed "Cleo's Back" (1965) and "Cleo's Mood" (1966). Their fame took off in early 1965 with the Walker-penned "Shotgun," which topped the R&B charts and became a Top 5 Pop/Rock hit. They had their other greatest hit in 1969 with the Johnny Bristol/Harvey Fuqua/Vernon Bullock-penned "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)," another R&B chart topper that also made the Pop/Rock Top 5. Their long string of hits on both charts also included "Shake And Fingerpop" (1965), "(I'm A) Road Runner" (1966), "Pucker Up Buttercup" (1967), "Hip City - Pt. 2" (1968), "Gotta Hold On To This Feeling" (1970), "Do You See My Love (For You Growing)" (1970), and "Walk In The Night" (1972). Other top hits included their renditions of Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want) Part 1" (1966), Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" (1966), The Supremes' "Come See About Me" (1967), The Guess Who's "These Eyes" (1969), and Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy" (1970). Jr. Walker & The All Stars' final entry on both charts came in early 1973 with "Gimme That Beat (Part 1)." Junior Walker later also had two solo hits on the R&B charts with "I'm So Glad" (1976) and his cover of Rose Royce's "Wishing On A Star" (1979).
In 1979, Junior Walker went solo for a short time before re-forming the All Stars in the 1980s. His saxophone wizardry can be heard on Foreigner's 1981 smash, "Urgent," and he later recorded his own version of this song for the All Star's 1983 album, "Blow The House Down." Walker's many honors and accolades included being inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1995, and his group's signature song, "Shotgun," was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2007, Jr. Walker & The All Stars were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
- The Independent remembers famed R&B saxophonist Junior Walker.
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Jr. Walker And The All Stars
- Come See About Me 1967
(This song previously topped the charts for the Supremes (1964) and also became a hit for Nella Dodds (1964).)
- Do The Boomerang 1965
- Do You See My Love (For You Growing) 1970
- Gotta Hold On To This Feeling 1970
- Hip City - Pt. 2 1968
- How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) 1966
(This song was previously a hit for Marvin Gaye (1965) and later also became a hit for James Taylor (1975).)
- Pucker Up Buttercup 1967
- (I'm A) Road Runner 1966
- Shake And Fingerpop 1965
- Shotgun 1965
(This song later also became a hit for Vanilla Fudge (1969).)
- These Eyes 1969
(This song also became a hit for the Guess Who (1969).)
- What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) 1969
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