Johnny ‘Big Moose’ Walker, a big guy from Mississippi who left us in November 1999, at the age of 72, was part of the first blues generation, sharing this legacy with John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Earl Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thornton and few others. This wondrous keyboard player and singer dedicated three decades of his artistic life to the Chicago blues scene, but his best memories were those originated down south.
He was born in Stoneville, near Greenville, MS, and as a boy learned to play the organ in the local church, like his father before him. The young Johnny Walker played in Cleanhead Love’s band, with the Memphis-based bass player Tuff Green, then toured with Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson before serving in the U.S. Army in Korea 1953-55. On his return, Mr. Walker appeared in the West Coast to work with Lowell Fulson, then joined Ike Turner in Greenville.
Earl Hooker, Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett) and Johnny Littlejohn helped him enter the Chicago circle of the ‘60s, and there was not a better place and time for a bluesman. He connected with the pianists Sunnyland Slim and Johnny Jones and played bass with Otis Rush and Muddy Waters. Big Moose was featured on the Earl Hooker’s 1969 Bluesway album Don't Have To Worry. Bluesway producer Ed Michel was thrilled by Walker’s style, so much so to include him on his own album, Rambling Woman. Subsequently, Big Moose took part in the recording of If You Miss 'Im, I Got 'Im with John Lee Hooker and Earl Hooker.
In the 1970s and '80s Moose played with the guitarists Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young, Son Seals and, of course, Johnny Littlejohn, with whom he shared fifty years of history since their childhood in Mississippi. That was the period when Walker settled in Montreal, playing and living the party life of his, as comfortably as he did on the Chicago South Side. He became a well-known and beloved character of the Montreal music scene that still echoes his favorite Blueberry Hill.
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