Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spread Your Wings & Fly

On May 7th, the singer/musician John Walker (born John Maus) passed away. Not a household name, on this side of the Atlantic at any rate, he was one-third of a trio of young, unrelated Americans, who banded together, rechristened themselves in London and achieved a level of pop fame often compared to the heights of their fab contemporaries from Liverpool. (Beatles' fans were either better behaved, or their objects of affection hired superior security, as Walker Brother concerts were known to be aborted after a song or two due to an inability to keep the screaming gals off of the stage). Working within the pop styles of their day, the trio's signature sound was filled with swooning, lush melodies, belted out amidst the ever popular "wall of sound."  After three albums, they splintered into divergent solo careers, crossed paths again for a reunion (which produced, numerology geeks take note, another three albums), before drifting off in separate directions yet again . . .

I first came to the group several years ago through my love of the solo work of Scott Walker, who sung the lead vocals on the majority of the group's recordings. Scott Walker is one my favorite musicians, whose work I am continuously returning to for both comfort and inspiration. His presence dominates the trio, yet, John's contribution, singing the harmonies, should not be ignored. In addition, he did receive a handful of solo songs, which demonstrate a talent for singing in his own right. My personal favorite of these tracks is his rendition of "Blueberry Hill", which does not appear to be available on youtube. So instead, I'll offer a clip that I received from a friend yesterday with the news of John's death:


Now returning briefly to those Liverpool Lads, I have been told that George Harrison's difficulties with his group grew out of having to share the stage with both a Lennon and a McCarthy. Without the presence of that pair of dominating personalities, Harrison may have more naturally shifted into the central focus -- on the other hand, it may have been that sense of competition, which motivated him to become a stronger artist in the first place. Might the same be said of John Walker, who was the original lead vocalist of the trio until a Scott song shot up the charts? Perhaps. Regardless, he was a talented singer, who shall be missed.

Rest in Peace, John Walker    

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