May 7, 2011 – John Walker was born John Joseph Maus on November 12th 1943 in New York City from German parents who had fled from the Nazis and war-torn Germany, but moved to California in 1947.
He began learning saxophone, clarinet and guitar as a child, and by the age of 11 also began acting and appearing in TV talent shows. He had a role in a regular sitcom, Hello Mom, and small uncredited parts in the movies The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) and The Missouri Traveler (1958). He became a friend of Ritchie Valens, and was an honorary pallbearer at Valens’ funeral. In 1959 the family moved again, to Inglewood, where he made the acquaintance of David Marks and Dennis and Carl Wilson, helping to teach them guitar. He began using the name John Walker at the age of 17, because he was unhappy at how people pronounced his real name.
From 1957 onwards, he worked as singer and guitarist with his sister, as the duo John and Judy. They recorded several singles for the Aladdin, Dore, Arvee and Eldo labels between 1958 and 1962. In 1961, they formed a backing band and performed as John, Judy and the Newports, until the band split up after an engagement in Hawaii.
They then met Scott Engel, who had been playing bass in The Routers, and, with drummer “Spider” Webb, formed a new band, Judy and the Gents. Maus obtained an ID card in the name of John Walker, in order to perform in clubs around Los Angeles while under the legal age to do so. In 1963, Walker and Engel, with two other musicians, toured the Midwest as “The Surfaris”, although the group included none of the musicians who played on the Surfaris’ records. Walker also released his first solo record, “What a Thrill”, on the Almo label, with The Blossoms as backing singers.
After singing at local venues, John went on to form The Walker Brothers in 1964 along with bassist Scott Engel, and drummer Al “Tiny” Schneider. American singer, songwriter and guitarist,
Their song “Make It Easy On Yourself”, reached No.1 in the UK chart in September 1965. The following year they had their second UK No.1, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”, it was also their biggest hit in the US, where it made No.13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In early ’68, The Walker Brothers split up and John began performing solo releasing a single, “Annabella”, and the album, ‘If You Go Away’. In 1974, he reformed The Walker Brothers and in 1975, they released an album, No Regrets and recorded two further albums together, Lines and Nite Flights.
In 2000, he set up his own record label and released a CD, You. He toured Britain again as part of a nostalgia package tour in 2004, and released an album, Silver Sixties Tour 2004.
He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2010 and sadly dies from the disease on May 7, 2011 at age 67.