The Walker Brothers were a highly acclaimed pop trio from Los Angeles based in England that became famous during the mid 1960s. They are best known for their lushly orchestrated renditions of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David ballad, "Make It Easy On Yourself" (1965), and the Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio-penned pop rocker, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" (1966). While the British Invasion was taking the U.S. by storm, The Walker Brothers became a top act in the U.K. where, for a time, their popularity rivaled that of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Formed in 1964 by lead singer/guitarist John Maus (November 12, 1943 - May 7, 2011) and first known as The Walker Brothers Trio, the original lineup also consisted of drummer Al "Tiny" Schneider and bassist/vocalist Scott Engel (January 9, 1943 - March 22, 2019) who later became the group's lead singer. Maus and Engel signed to Mercury Records as The Walker Brothers and released their first single in early 1965, a cover of Eugene Church's "Pretty Girls Everywhere." They became the house band for the Gazzari's Club in Hollywood and appeared on such TV shows as "Shindig!" and "Ninth Street A Go Go." Gary Leeds (drums, vocals), a former member of The Standells, came on board in 1965 and joined Maus and Engel onstage for the first time in Wolverhampton, England later that year. The trio signed with Philips Records, a U.K. affiliate of Mercury, and their popularity in England began to take off with their second single, a cover of The Everly Brothers' "Love Her," making the U.K. Top 20. Although none of the members were related or originally born with the Walker surname, they adopted The Walker Brothers as their moniker
simply because we liked it. John Maus had gone by the name of John Walker since his teens, and much like The Ramones, Scott Engel and Gary Leeds soon after followed suit and became known professionally by the Walker surname.
The Walker Brothers debuted on the U.S. Pop/Rock charts in 1965 with "Make It Easy On Yourself," with lead vocals provided by Scott Walker and full orchestral backing augmented by session musicians. This smash became a Top 20 hit, topped the U.K. charts, and soon after went gold. The Walker Brothers had a second Top 20 hit in 1966 with "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)," another U.K. chart topper in which Scott Walker lent his signature baritone lead vocals. Other hits included "My Ship Is Comin' In" (1966), which made the U.K. Top 5, plus "(Baby) You Don't Have To Tell Me" (1966) and "Another Tear Falls" (1966), the latter of which was The Walker Brothers' final charting song in the U.S. Their string of hits, which continued on the U.K. charts through 1975, also included the Scott Walker-penned "Deadlier Than The Male" (1966), their covers of Lorraine Ellison's "Stay With Me Baby" (1967) and The Ronettes' "Walking In The Rain" (1967), and "No Regrets" (1975).
The Walker Brothers first disbanded in 1968, and each member went on to pursue solo careers. They reformed in 1974 and released several albums that included "No Regrets" (1975), the title track of which became a Top 10 U.K. hit. After the trio's final split in 1978, Scott Walker went on to become a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, composer, avant-garde musician, and record producer. David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and Brian Eno are among the many musicians who have expressed admiration for his work and/or cited him as a major influence. John Walker continued his solo career and moved back to the U.S. in the late 1980s. He went on to customize electric guitars, established his own recording studio and publishing company, and resumed touring and recording in 2004. Gary Walker has continued to perform actively in England to the present day and is The Walker Brothers' last surviving member.
- For more info about The Walker Brothers and John Walker, visit thewalkerbrothersjohnwalker.com.
- The New York Times remembers Walker Brothers founder John Walker.
- The BBC remembers influential musician Scott Walker.
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The Walker Brothers
- Make It Easy On Yourself 1965
(This song was previously a hit for Jerry Butler (1962) and later also became a hit for Dionne Warwick (1970).)
- The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) 1966
(This song later also became a hit for Nielson/Pearson (1981).)
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