In the late 1950s, Brooks, known then as Guitar Junior, cut a series of Gulf Coast proto-rock and roll hits for the Goldband label, now considered swamp rock classics. After becoming a local star, he hitched a ride with Sam Cooke's touring caravan and got off in Chicago in 1960. Because Chicago already had a Guitar Junior, he changed his name to Lonnie Brooks and jumped head first into the Chicago blues scene. He joined Jimmy Reed's touring hand, and also recorded singles for Mercury, Chess and other labels, before Capitol released Brooks´ first album Broke And Hungry (under the name Guitar Junior) in 1969.
the 1960s and 1970s Brooks performed regularly in some of Chicago's toughest
clubs, playing blues, rock, and R&B (and backing up strippers) for
audiences composed of pimps, hookers and gangsters. Although he was forced
to perform other artists' hits, he was never without a gig. His big break
came in 1978, when Brooks blasted out four songs on Alligator Records'
Living Chicago Blues anthology. By now he had fashioned his own sound
- a vibrant mix of rock n´ roll, R&B, funky Creole boogie, country
twang, and hard Chicago blues, a style his band dubbed "voodoo blues"
'The success of these songs led him to a full recording contract with
the label and a series of stellar albums, each loaded with Brooks' signature
guitar playing and rich, expressive
Don Robey of Duke Records in Houston (homeof Bobby Bland and Junior Parker) released Hunter's first single in 1954. After moving to Houston in 1955 in an attempt to capitalize on his Duke single, Hunter relocated west to El Paso two years later. In El Paso, Hunter met up with his friend from Port Arthur, a young guitar player named Phillip Walker. The two crossed paths often, some times as band mates, sometimes as competitors, always leaving their audiences hungry for more. Before long, Hunter crossed the border into Juarez, Mexico where he found local stardom at the colorfully rowdy Lobby Bar, a wild nightspot which attracted a volatile clientele of soldiers, tourists, frat boys, prostitutes and cowboys. For the next 13 years, Hunter played seven nights a week at the Lobby Bar from sundown to sun up, shaping a revered position for himself as the reigning king of rocking West Texas blues.
Word of Hunter's blistering blues attack and wild sense of showmanship (he often played one-handed while actually swinging from the rafters above the stage) began to spread around Texas. Musical legends like Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, Lightning Hopkins, Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, Bobby Fuller, James Brown and Buddy Holly all sought out Hunter when they were anywhere near El Paso/ Juarez. Even though Hunter recorded several singles for the Yucca label from 1961 to 1963 (these singles were later released as Texas Border Town Blues on the Dutch Double Trouble label in 1986), he chose to remaln in Juarex (where he was treated like royalty) until the Lobby Bar finally closed down. After working the West Texas blues circuit throughout the 1980s, Hunter began to get his first taste of a larger audience with the critically acclaimed 1992 release of Ride With Me (reissued on Alligator), recorded for the now defunct Spindletop label.
Hunter's true breakthrough came with the 1996 Alligator release Border Town Legend, which received glowing features and reviews in GuitarPlayer, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Post, LivingBlues, Blues Revue and many other publications. With an increased national and international presence through numerous high-profile appearances, including The Chicago Blues Festival, Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival, The Long Beach Blues Festival, and tours of Europe and Hawaii, it is easy to see why The Chicago Tribune raved, "Hunter's ability is too big for just Texas." His 1997 follow-up, Swinging From The Rafters, lifted his star even higher, as the Boston Herald declared, "The raw force of Hunter's feral, Texas blues is undeniable, and his legendary showmanship comes across even on a recording." Blues Revue declared, "Hunter burns as hot as a mid-August Texas afternoon."
After recording two singles for Elko, Walker began playing regular nightclub gigs throughout Los Angeles. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the West Coast's finest guitar players, and in1969, be even joined Little Richard's band for a brief period. He met producer Bruce Bromberg and Bromberg's songwriting partner, Dennis Walker (writers and producers of Robert Cray's hits), that same year, and began an association that would carry on into the late 1980s. Together they worked on a string of singles that were released on Vault, Fantasy, Bromberg's Joliet Records and the new Playboy label. Walker toured Europe extensively, and went on to record albums for Joliet, the Japanese P-Vine label and Rounder. Walker's next recording wasn't until 1988, when Hightone released Blues, an album that was the first to feature the Dennis Walker composition Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (which later became the title track of a best-selling album for Robert Cray). Walker released an album in 1992 on the British JSP label before signing with Black Top Records in 1994 and cutting two successful albums,1995's Working Girl Blues and 1997's I Got A Sweet Tooth.
A triumphant performance at the 1996 Chicago Blues Festival (which found Walker reunited on stage with Long John Hunter in a fiery set) put him in front of 100,000 people, and proved Walker to be an artist of unequaled power and emotion.
According to Guitar Player Walker´s music is "big Texas blues meets West Coast cool... Walker roughs up B.B. King shouts, T-Bone Walker jumps, Cajun stomps and Lowell Fulson swing with terse, cutting guitar."
Written by Marc Lipkin
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