b. Autry DeWalt II (a.k.a. Autry De Walt Mixon), 14th June 1931, Blythesville, Arkansas, U.S.A.
d. 23rd November 1995, Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.A.
Junior Walker was born Autry DeWalt II in Arkansa in 1931.
Some accounts list his birth name as Oscar G. Mixon.
Junior Walker took up the saxophone, inspired by the Blues and R & B bands he had heard in the early 50's, especially Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic, and Illinois Jacquet.
He grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and began playing the saxophone in high school.
Junior was soon performing in local Jazz and R & B clubs with his first band, the Jumping Jacks.
It was at this stage that he changed his stage name to Junior Walker, which was a childhood nickname.
Junior joined a trio led by drummer Billy 'Stix' Nicks, which also featured organist Fred Patton and vocalist and guitarist Willie Woods (b. 5th September 1936. d. 27th May 1997, from lung cancer).
The trio played around Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan.
Junior then took over the group after Billy joined the Army in the late '50's.
He relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan, and formed the group Junior Walker & the All-Stars.
The group featured Patton, Woods, and drummer Tony Washington.
Fred Patton was later replaced by Victor Thomas, and Tony Washington by Jack Douglas and, later, James Graves (d. 1967, drums).
The group then took up a residency in Battle Creek's El Grotto club.
By 1961 the group had achieved a prominent local reputation.
Signed, subsequently, to the Harvey label in 1961, they made their first recordings in 1962.
Harvey Fuqua's labels then became part of the Motown stable during 1964.
In 1965, Junior released the single 'Shotgun' (a song that Junior sang on by default, as the original singer didn't show up for the recording), which was followed by hits such as 'Shake And Fingerpop' 'How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)' and 'Road Runner'.
'Shotgun' topped the R & B charts and reached the pop charts in the Top Five.
shotgun - 1965 / soul session - 1966 / road runner - 1966 / live! - 1967
In 1969, Junior had reached the peak of his career with the U.S. Top 5 hit, 'What Does It Take To Win Your Love'.
home cookin' - 1969 / gotta hold on to this... - 1969 / what does it take to win your love? - 1969 / live! - 1970 / a gassss - 1970 / rainbow funk - 1971
From 1972 onwards the All-Stars recorded only sporadically.
'Hot Shot' in 1976, produced by Brian Holland, indicated an attempt to reach into the Disco market.
Two albums followed that year, his first recordings as a solo artist.
In 1979, he relocated to Whitfield Records.
In 1981, Junior recorded a guest solo performance on Foreigner's Top Five hit 'Urgent.'
moody jnr. - 1971 / peace and understanding is hard to find - 1973 / hot shot - 1976 / sax appeal - 1976 / whopper bopper show stopper - 1976 / smooth - 1978 / back street boogie - 1979 / blow the house down - 1983
Junior returned to Motown in 1983, releasing 'Blow The House Down', which featured the mid-tempo 'Closer Than Close', his version of the Foreigner song 'Urgent' along with his take on the Willie Hutch song, 'In And Out'.
He continued to tour through the '80's and '90's, sometimes including his son, in his performances, Autry DeWalt III playing drums.
Junior Walker lost a two-year battle with cancer on Thursday the 23rd of November 1995 and passed away at his home.
In his latter days, Junior had problems walking as a result of the disease, reports stated.
Billy 'Stix' Nicks continued to tour with a version of the All-Stars after Junior's passing.
Junior's final resting place is Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.A.
Shotgun (Soul Records 1965)
Soul Session (Soul Records 1966)
Road Runner (Soul Records 1966)
Live! (Soul Records 1967)
Home Cookin' (Soul Records 1969)
Gotta Hold On To This Feeling (Soul Records 1969)
What Does It Take To Win Your Love? (Soul Records 1969)
Live (Soul Records 1970)
A Gassssssss (Soul Records 1970)
Rainbow Funk (Soul Records 1971)
Moody Jnr. (Soul Records 1971)
Peace And Understanding Is Hard To Find (Soul Records 1973)
Hot Shot (Soul Records 1976)
Sax Appeal (Soul Records 1976)
Whopper Bopper Show Stopper (Soul Records 1976)
Smooth (Soul Records 1978)
Back Street Boogie (Whitfield Records 1979)
Blow The House Down (Motown Records 1983)