In a recent piece titled The Perfect Song For Geezers, I mentioned that the song — Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” — was actually recorded for the first time by country singer Billy Walker. I also made a mental note at that time to feature the guy known as the Tall Texan in a later post, so here we go.
William Marvin Walker was yet another Texan who found his way to a musical career, inspired by singing stars like Gene Autry. Still just a teenager by the post-wars years, Walker began find work in Dallas-area music shows. With a little help from Hank Thompson he soon signed his first recording contract, and even though big sales eluded him for a few years, by the early 1950s he was beginning to show up on the charts.
In 1954 he cracked the Top Ten with “Thank You For Calling” and was getting some attention, but he didn’t really click big-time for another few years, after he’d moved to Nashville and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. He’d also smoothed out his honky-tonk sound a little and soon began to spin some real hits, including his only chart-topper, “(I’d Like to Be In) Charlie’s Shoes.”
Walker would go on to chart a number of Top Ten records in subsequent years, including a few that almost reached the top. Some of his best were “A Million And One,” “Bear With Me A Little Longer,” and “She Goes Walking Through My Mind.” He was also a master of the Tex-Mex cowboy song, with hits on songs like “Cross the Brazos at Waco” and “Matamoros.” And even though he would slow down in later years, he continued to entertain fans right up until his death from a car accident in 2006. He was 77.