T-Bone Walker Interview

“To be the best, I’d have to stick with my style. I can’t get away from it. That’s the reason why I don’t do rock-n-roll, which they’ve been trying to get me to do it, but I’ll get away from my style.” … “The old-timey blues is beginning to come back and rhythm and blues is beginning to come back.” – Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker

  • T-Bone Walker with mother Movelia Jimerson interviewed by Chris Strachwitz 00:00
Interviewees: T-Bone Walker and Movelia Jimerson (mother)
Interviewer: Chris Strachwitz
Date: 8/31/1961
Language: English

This is an interview originally recorded for research purposes. It is presented here in its raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interview are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission.

See below photo gallery for a transcript

T-Bone Walker Interview Transcript:

A Note About the Transcriptions: In order to expedite the process of putting these interviews online, we are using a transcription service. Due to the challenges of transcribing speech – especially when it contains regional accents and refers to regional places and names – some of these interview transcriptions may contain errors. We have tried to correct as many as possible, but if you discover errors while listening, please send corrections to

Chris Strachwitz:   Would you mind, maybe, if you would talk with me a little bit. Maybe you can remember some of the people better, especially way back, maybe even before you…

T-Bone Walker:   Well, my mother remembers quite a few of them.

Strachwitz:   Would you just mind maybe just …

Movelia Jimerson:   [inaudible 00:00:14]

Walker:   My step-father was a bass player.

Jimerson:   Coley

Walker:   Coley Jones.

Strachwitz:   Okay, let us just sit down.

Walker:   Let’s see, who was all in this group at the time when I was a kid?

Jimerson:   Marco.

Walker:   Marco.

Jimerson:   Johnny.

Walker:   Johnny.

Jimerson:   And Will.

Walker:   Will Green. He was a guitar player. And Blind Lemon and my uncle Jessie played clarinet.

Jimerson:   He played clarinet.

Walker:   … string band around here [inaudible 00:01:00]

Strachwitz:   What was the name of this group?

Walker:   [inaudible 00:01:04]

Jimerson:   [inaudible 00:01:07]

Walker:   They didn’t have no name too much [inaudible 00:01:09]

Jimerson:   I don’t think they had a name.

Walker:   At that time, it just a big bunch of old-timers playing string instruments and so on, at the time when I first…

Strachwitz:   I guess I’d like to start, the first thing is, when were you born and where?

Walker:   Oh, I was born in a place called Linden, Texas.

Strachwitz:   Linten? L-E-

Jimerson:   L-I-N-D-E-N.

Strachwitz:   L-I-N-T-E-N.

Jimerson:   D.

Walker:   D-E-N, Linden.

Strachwitz:   Linden, Texas.

Jimerson:   Cass County?

Strachwitz:   Which …?

Jimerson:   It was in Cass County.

Walker:   In Cass County.

Strachwitz:   Cass County, and when was it?

Walker:   1910.

Strachwitz:   In 1910. Would you mind me asking you your birthday?

Walker:   28th day of May.

Strachwitz:   28th day of May. When did you first start playing?

Walker:   Oh, I’ve been playing ever since I was around 13, I think. I started out with a medicine show when I was about 13 or 14, wasn’t it?

Walker:   Uh-hum (affirmative).

Strachwitz:   Oh yeah, what did you do in this medicine show?

Walker:   I played a banjo and ukulele and did singing at the time.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   Yeah.

Strachwitz:   You played a banjo at that time?

Walker:   Yeah. At times when school was out, you know. I worked at this medicine show. They paid me, I think it was $15 a week, wasn’t it?

Jimerson:   [inaudible 00:02:17]

Walker:   They send my mother 10, give me 5. They used to say, what was it, Big B Tonic, wasn’t it, mom?

Jimerson:   [inaudible 00:02:24]

Walker:   Yeah, Big B Tonic, that was my first show.

Strachwitz:   Big B Tonic.

Walker:   Then, my first record I made was with Columbia, wasn’t it. It was about the time when I was about 16 years old.

Strachwitz:   Oh I was going to ask you about this: back in the 20s there was a Columbia record [crosstalk 00:02:37]

Walker:   I think the name of the blues was ‘Trinity River Blues’, ‘Wichita Falls Blues’. I made that, I guess I was about 15, 16 years old. They sold pretty good. I didn’t get too much out of it, but me being a kid, I was happy to get to make it.

Strachwitz:   Yeah, man, so you was pretty young.

Walker:   Right, yes.

Strachwitz:   Where did you get most of your style from or where did you first learn from? Was there anybody in particular that you liked?

Jimerson:   His father was a guitar picker.

Walker:   My father was a guitar player too.

Strachwitz:   What was his name, if you.

Walker:   His name was Rance Walker.

Jimerson:   Rance.

Walker:   Ransom Walker

Jimerson:   Ransom Walker.

Strachwitz:   Ransom Walker.

Walker:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Strachwitz:   Did he play any particular numbers that you remember or what was…

Walker:   Nothing but a bunch of old-timey blues he used to play all the time. He was never a professional.

Jimerson:   No.

Walker:   He was a never a professional. He just played for himself. He never went out to play too much. My step-father was the one who was on the professional side.

Jimerson:   Um-hm

Strachwitz:      What was his name?

Walker:   Marco Washington.

Strachwitz:   Marco Washington. Did he play around that area, as you say professionally?

Walker:   He did professional around Dallas.

Jimerson:   Around Dallas.

Walker:   They go around like Abilene, Texas, and nothing but Texas. They seldom went out of the state.

Strachwitz:   Can you recall any of the numbers that they played in those days that you particularly remember?

Walker:   Well, they just do the old numbers, like, way back, like the Bessie Smith numbers and things like that. They used to do all those little things. I can’t remember now. They used to write they own blues. It’s been so long ago til I can’t remember those numbers. I remember the… I think was one number they made that they used to play all the time. I was trying to think of this blues. They played in E Natural all the time, but I can’t remember the name of the… A matter of fact, they make up their blues and things. They could play in practically any thing.

Jimerson:   Mm-hmm (affirmative). Everything that’d come out…

Walker:   Anything that’d come out.

Jimerson:   They could hear on records.

Strachwitz:   But I mean, before they made records, what type of songs did they … They did hear them from other singers or did they just…?

Walker:   Well no, they did their own blues and things like that. They write up their own lyrics and things and make their own blues up. I remember Uncle Johnny he could play anything. He’s about the only one, he just about the only one that could read music in this bunch.

Jimerson:   …Casey now he could…

Walker:   Casey came up with me though.

Jimerson:   Yeah, I know.

Walker:   I’m talking about before me.

Strachwitz:   Casey …?

Walker:   A cousin of mine. He played quite a bit of guitar, banjo too.

Strachwitz:   What was his last name?

Walker:   Casey Smith.

Strachwitz:   Casey Smith. He’s one of your cousins, and is he about your age or is he older?

Jimerson:   They’re pretty close round…

Walker:   About the same. About close the same age.

Jimerson:   [crosstalk 00:05:41]

Strachwitz:   When do you think this banjo went out of style? Certainly you [crosstalk 00:05:46] more.

Walker:   I started changing banjo. I was working with Lawson Brooks in 1930 or 1929.

Jimerson:   I was going to say, you played banjo up until…

Walker:   Around 29.

Jimerson:   … around first of the ‘30s

Walker:   Yeah, first of the ‘30s I played banjo, which I could play guitar too.

Jimerson:   You used to be on, what was it, WRR with that band?

Walker:   Yeah. Lawson Brook. I played banjo and double on guitar. Like 16 pieces.

Strachwitz:   Oh yeah. Was that just a string band or horns..?

Walker:   No. This was big band.

Strachwitz:   When was this? During the …?

Walker:   This was late 20s and 29, early 30s.

Jimerson:   WRR

Strachwitz:   Is that right? And you brought this over, which stations?

Jimerson:   WRR.

Walker:   WRR. I think we were the first [    ] that been on there

Strachwitz:   Is that right? When did you first run into Blind Lemon? You remember where you…

Walker:   I’ve known him since I was a kid.

Jimerson:   He known him all his life.

Walker:   All my life. I used to lead him around Central Avenue. That’s before he even started making records.

Strachwitz:   Do you remember what kind of a fellow, what he looked like?

Walker:   Well, he was a heavyset, [inaudible 00:06:55] fellow. I guess he’s about close to 6 feet tall and he was very heavy. I guess he weighed around 200.

Jimerson:   Pretty near.

Walker:   Pretty near 200 pounds.

Strachwitz:   Did you learn any songs from him that you particularly liked?

Walker:   Well no, I didn’t. Actually, I was doing dancing quite a bit. I used to be quite a bit of a dancer, see. Tap dancing. I used to go around with him and tap dance with him. Many years ago, they used to walk up on porches and start playing and serenade.

Jimerson:   Serenade.

Walker:   Walk up and people be home and they’d come up on the porch and they would start playing soft music. Mandolin and guitar and bass, maybe two guitars.

Strachwitz:   Did you know this group called The Dallas String Band, used to work around Dallas? I think Coley Jones was in it?

Walker:   That’s practically the same one.

Strachwitz:   Was that the same?

Walker:   That’s the same band, yes. It’s the same outfit.

Strachwitz:   I see. Can you remember any of the fellows in that band? The only time I’ve ever heard them was they made a couple of records once.

Walker:   Coley was in, Will Green was in on it. Then my step-father.

Strachwitz:   What did Will Green play?

Walker:   Played guitar.

Strachwitz:   Played guitar.

Walker:   Coley played mandolin.

Strachwitz:   Coley played mandolin.

Walker:   Sometimes they’d have two mandolins.

Strachwitz:   Who was the other mandolin player?

Walker:   Johnny Mark or Johnny Smith.

Strachwitz:   Johnny Mark and Johnny. Remember any of the other people who were with that group?

Walker:   They had one fellow that played a trumpet. Frenchie, he worked with him a little while. He’s old-timer. They called him Frenchie. I don’t got his name. He played the trumpet. He was out of New Orleans.

Strachwitz:   Is that right, uh?

Walker:   That’s been when I was a kid.

Strachwitz:   I’m interested because there’s a record also, an old Columbia, back in the ’20s, it was called Frenchie’s String Band. You think that was the same group?

Walker:   That’s probably the same Frenchie. He’s dead now.

Strachwitz:   He played a real nice trumpet.

Walker:   Real nice trumpet, yeah. He was a heavyset, light-skinned fellow. He’s dead now.

Strachwitz:   But you don’t remember what his name was?

Walker:   All I remember is Frenchie right now. That’s all I ever did know was Frenchie.

Strachwitz:   What other instrument did they have in that group? Can you remember anything?

Walker:   They had a mandolin and two guitars, and a trumpet, and sometime they’d use clarinet.

Jimerson:   Bass.

Walker:   And bass. Then sometimes they’d have two mandolins and then sometimes they’d have a violin.

Jimerson:   Violin

Walker:   When the violin was in there.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever play with any string bands? You say that you played with this big band over that radio station that broadcast, but you ever play with just a pure string band? Or were you mostly dancing at this time?

Walker:   I mostly was dancing when I was a little kid when my father was in the string band. Sometimes I’d play with them, you know, because we could play. But we were so young that they didn’t take us out too much with them.

Strachwitz:   Did you make music your business most of your life?

Walker:   Yes, I did.

Strachwitz:   Every since you…

Walker:   Practically all my life I’ve been in it.

Strachwitz:   When did you run into Texas Alexander? I guess he’s…

Walker:   During the same time. Around the same time. He used to come up and play a lot down around Central Avenue, he used to come down and play.

Strachwitz:   Was this in, which town?

Walker:   Dallas, Texas.

Strachwitz:   Dallas. Was this Central Tracks you were talking?

Walker:   Central Avenue, yes, Central Tracks, that’s right.

Strachwitz:   …that was a pretty rough area.

Walker:   It was pretty rough up and down that track. Texas Alexander, I think actually he came from around Louisiana. I don’t actually think he’s from Texas.

Strachwitz:   Who did he have playing with him? He just sang.

Walker:   He played by himself mostly when I was a kid. He used to come up and play the blues by himself and sing.

Strachwitz:   Is that right? He just stood there and sang? He didn’t have anyone play guitar with him?

Walker:   He played his own guitar.

Strachwitz:   Was that right?

Walker:   Yeah.

Strachwitz:   I never heard of that. Hmm. Who were some of the other fellows that you remember, blues singers in those days, that you ran across on Central Tracks or near there?

Walker:   Well, in those days, I ran across … Used to have a fellow named Kelly. What was Kelly’s name, used to sing the blues all the time. Mom, do you remember Kelly used to sing the blues all the time? He sang the blues with the Oklahoma Blue Devils long years ago.

Jimerson:   [inaudible 00:11:07]

Walker:   I guess he was in before generation was even thought about. He died when I was a kid. I can’t remember Kelly’s name though, but he was one of our best blues singers then in Texas. My step-father was quite few blues too.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever know this fellow called the Howlin’ Wolf, the original… I don’t know, Funny Paper Smith was the other name…

Walker:   Yes. Howlin’ Wolf, he played guitar too.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever see him around there?

Walker:   Yes, I saw him quite a bit.

Strachwitz:   Do you have any idea where he came from?

Walker:   I don’t know exactly where he come from.

Strachwitz:   Did you know this fellow named Black Boy Shine? I think he played mostly in Southern Texas, I think around Houston.

Walker:   I didn’t know him. I’ve heard of him but I didn’t know too much about him. He was from around Houston, Texas.

Strachwitz:   When did you really start making the guitar your main work rather than the dancing? When did you switch?

Walker:   I started around my early 20s, around I’d say the late 20s. I started around 29 I was playing banjo with the band and then I had to change into guitar in order to play with the band, because if you couldn’t double you couldn’t play with the band. You had to play banjo and guitar. Then the bass player had to play bass and tuba to get in the band. So that’s when I began to change from banjo to guitar. That was around, I’d say around ‘30 or ‘31.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever hear of a Wright Brothers’ String Band?

Walker:   No, I didn’t know them.

Strachwitz:   Let me see. Your first record you made back with Columbia. When were your next records that you made then?

Walker:   I didn’t make no more records after that up until around 1940.

Strachwitz:   Around 1940, and which company?

Walker:   I was with Freddie Slack.

Strachwitz:   With Freddie Slack, then Capitol?

Walker:   Then Capitol.

Strachwitz:   Then you did later for Comet and Black & White.

Walker:   No, I think they bought the masters. I’ve only recorded for … Black & White was my first company after I left for Freddie Slack. Then after that, I think Capitol bought some of the masters and Comet bought some of the masters. No, I take that back. I left here 1939 with Les Hite’s band. I made my first record. Then my next record was Les Hite, “The T-Bone Blues’ “I take that back. I remember now, when I went back east from here.

Strachwitz:   What company was that for?

Walker:   We were with Varsity.

Strachwitz:   With Varsity.

Walker:   Varsity Recording Company. ‘The Old T-Bone Blues’. Then Jordan made it after that. Louis Jordan. [inaudible 00:14:07] around here somewhere.

Strachwitz:   Mm-hmm (affirmative). What sort of place did you play when you were in your early days dancing and playing the banjo? Did you play mostly outdoors at … Let me ask you one thing; where were you raised? Was it out in the country or more in the city?

Walker:   No, I was raised in the city.

Strachwitz:   Right in…
Walker:   Right in the heart of Dallas, yeah.

Strachwitz:   In Dallas. Well, I guess then you played mostly for private parties or was it…

Walker:   Private parties. We used to play for… They had these root beer stands, they used to have these root beer stands, and we used to play out in front of these root beer stand. They paid a salary and so much tip for us to work. I worked with my father at the time, like, Weber Root Beer and all that kind of stuff. Then we used to play private parties for clubs and country clubs and so on like that, and dances.

Strachwitz:   When did these so-called juke joints start coming in? Just beer joints where bands started playing in. Can you remember when that started getting to be the thing for bands to play in?

Walker:   That started later after when I was practically grown, I guess, before these joints started happening. They didn’t have bars and things when I was coming up, because the town was dry in Dallas. Then they didn’t do too much playing in the joints.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever sing church music and stuff?

Walker:   I never did.

Strachwitz:   You never did.

Walker:   No, I never sang any spirituals at all.

Strachwitz:   I see. Did you know this fellow Son Jackson in Dallas?

Walker:   Yeah, yeah.

Strachwitz:   When did he start out? Do you remember when?

Walker:   Son Jackson was kind of a late comer, too. I’d say that I met Son Jackson it was 20 years ago. I’d say about 20 years ago.

Strachwitz:   After the war?

Walker:   After the war. It was after the war.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever know a fellow named Alex Moore? He’s a piano player. Whistlin’ Alex Moore they called himself. I think he played …

Walker:   No, I didn’t know him, personally. I never met him.

Strachwitz:   I hate to throw all these names at you. How about Black Ace? Did you ever hear of a fellow?

Walker:   No, I heard of him but I never had a chance to meet Black Ace. Like, Lonnie Johnson I met.

Strachwitz:   Where did you first meet Lonnie?

Walker:   Dallas. He came there with his show when I was a kid at Ella B. Moore’s Theater.

Strachwitz:   Is that right? What sort of show was it? Do you remember the name of it?

Walker:   It was a big stage show they brought there and he was the star of the show. At that time, his records were very hot.

Strachwitz:   Was this in the late ’20s?

Walker:   This was in the early ’30s. Yeah, it was the late ’20s. I’d say, the late ’20s.

Strachwitz:   Was it just music or did they have kind of vaudeville?

Walker:   Vaudeville.

Strachwitz:   Yeah. Um-hmm. Oh, when   did you run into Mance Lipscomb? Remember I asked you about him.

Walker:   This was after I got started I met him. I don’t know exactly what year it was that he was working, he worked with me. So many of them has worked with me since I’ve been on the road, it’s hard for me to remember all of them.

Strachwitz:   I was just wondering, what would you tell us maybe what your future plans are? I see you’re going up to San Francisco now to…

Walker:   Yeah. I’m going up to San Francisco now to work in theater for Barbara at Sugar Hill. From there, I don’t know yet because I got some records I got to make as soon as I get the material. And I’m getting a band together up there and I’m supposed to go October 1st to Junction City, Kansas, and from there on I’ll just hit the road, I guess through Texas  and everywhere. One night stands.

Strachwitz:   Tell me about the material you’re going to get together. How do you usually do this? I mean, I’m kind of curious. Do you…

Walker:   Well, some of the material I write myself. Then a lot of people come by with some nice material that I take that uses it.

Strachwitz:   Yeah. I imagine that after all you’ve been in it so long, you probably base a lot of it on the older type blues?

Walker:   Yeah. To be the best, I’d have to stick with my style. I can’t get away from it. That’s the reason why I don’t do rock-n-roll, which they’ve been trying to get me to do it, but I’ll get away from my style. They beginning to get, come back. The old-timey blues is beginning to come back and rhythm and blues is beginning to come back.

Strachwitz:   But you prefer working with a band?

Walker:   Yeah. Well, I don’t know, 5, 6 pieces be enough. I don’t care too much for string band. But I use just the rhythm sections and myself sometimes. 4 pieces. piano, bass, drums and guitar.

Strachwitz:   Who are you going to have at Sugar Hill with you? Just yourself?

Walker:   No, I got 4 pieces, 5 pieces in there with me.

Strachwitz:   Are they local from here or are they from?

Walker:   They’re from Frisco. I got them together up there. Boy’s named Gene [Killian]. I worked with at an after hours party. He’s a piano player. Very nice piano player. The bass player and the drummer I don’t know. I just met them once.

Strachwitz:   I’m particularly interested in some of the old-timers that you knew.

Walker:   Well, I worked with Louis Armstrong.

Strachwitz:   Oh is that right?

Walker:   Yeah. Just on the same bill.

Strachwitz:   On the same bill.

Walker:   I worked on the same bill with Cab. I worked on the same bill with Duke. Same bill with Count Basie. I was just doing my own act. I had an act at the time, see. I played the guitar back…

Strachwitz:   Yeah, I think I seen a picture.

Walker:   [inaudible 00:20:04] and all that stuff, and sing the blues.

Strachwitz:   Did your son ever make any records of his …?

Walker:   No. My son works for the board of education. My nephew plays. Everybody thinks…

Strachwitz:   Who’s this Little T-Bone?

Walker:   Well, that’s who they think’s my son, but he’s not my son. He’s my sister’s boy.

Strachwitz:   I see. His real name is?

Walker:   R.S. Rankins.

Strachwitz:   R.S. Rankins?

Walker:   Rankins, uh-huh.

Strachwitz:   Rankins. He made one for here local, Miltone Records I think? Was that his?

Walker:   No. That was somebody just took my name.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   And just used it. That was not even my nephew. My nephew has been working with me up until about two years ago. He used to travel with me. Played two guitars on stage with him, with the act I taught him. First he started working for me. Then I begin teaching him how to play guitar, then I started him on stage with me.

Unidentified woman:   Good morning.

Walker:   Good morning.

Strachwitz:   Let’s see what else we can think of that you… Is there anything that you would like to mention, especially how things were different maybe in the old days or do you have any thoughts about…

Walker:   No. All I can say is that I got my start with the medicine show and my biggest break was with Cab Calloway. I left in ’33 with Cab Calloway. I worked with him about 3 or 4 weeks.

Strachwitz:   Did you dance in that?

Walker:   No, I played. I played the banjo and the guitar and played all, just about 7, 8 instruments on the stage.

Strachwitz:   Which year was this roughly?

Walker:   Around ’33.

Strachwitz:   Around ’33. Then from there you went on your own?

Walker:   On my own, yeah.

Strachwitz:   I was wondering, what kind of work did you enjoy most? Was it when you did an act or when you just played?

Walker:   I did it with … With the act I enjoyed it more.

Strachwitz:   Is there much demand for that type of entertainment now or…?

Walker:   Yeah, especially for clubs where they have the shows. They love the act. The theaters and nightclubs where they have shows and like the Rhumboogie. I worked for  Rhumboogie. for about 3 years, ’42-’45 one spot I did this act and everything.

Strachwitz:   You also mentioned you knew Smokey Hogg. Did you know him here in town or where did you run across him?

Walker:   No, I met Smokey Hogg in Texas. I didn’t know him here.

Strachwitz:   What sort of guy was he? See I’m trying to find out something about him, nobody knows anything apparently. He just was a…

Walker:   Smokey Hogg is a tall, heavy … He’s kind of heavy set tall boy, and he’s still here. I think he’s still here.

Strachwitz:   He’s still here.

Walker:   He didn’t play no instrument, though, the one I’m talking about.

Strachwitz:   There must be a different guy then.

Walker:   Probably is. I remember one Smokey but I didn’t know him to play guitar.

Strachwitz:   Yeah, that’s the one I’m…

Walker:   I didn’t meet him. This one I know is … They called Smokey Hogg, a tall boy that sang the blues around here. I think he’s on a bread wagon or something like it, driving it now.

Strachwitz:   Is that right.

Walker:   He was singing the blues for a long time.

Strachwitz:   He called himself…

Walker:   He called himself also Smokey Hogg, yeah.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   Well, everybody going around using different names. Just like the Little T-Bone that you saw on a record. I don’t even know him. He just used that name. Quite a few of them uses the name all through Texas.

Strachwitz:   Did you ever run across a fellow named Bumblebee Slim here in Los Angeles?

Walker:   I didn’t know him. No, I didn’t know Bumblebee Slim. I know one Slim that plays the harmonica. I don’t know if they called him Bumblebee Slim or not.

Strachwitz:   Fillmore Slim?

Walker:   I think I called him Harmonica Slim.

Strachwitz:   Harmonica Slim. Yeah, I think he … Who would you say are some of the better old-time blues players around here or you think there are any?

Walker:   You mean around here?

Strachwitz:   Yeah.

Walker:   Well, I don’t think I know any. Practically all of them are practically dead that did all the blues. I recall quite a few of the old-timers that played Dixieland, like Kid Ory was a good friend of mine.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   Yeah, in Dixieland.

Strachwitz:   During the war, did you play mostly here or …?

Walker:   I did quite a few USO shows

Strachwitz:   Oh you did.

Walker:   … during the wartime.

Strachwitz:   Did you have a band then?

Walker:   Yeah, I had a little group. I had about 6 pieces. We did mostly USO shows until I went to work in Chicago, then I worked there for ’42-’45, whatever I said. From ’42 to beginning, ‘til the war was over I was there.

Strachwitz:   I guess since you mostly acted in the early years, or danced, you weren’t too much interested in the songs that people sang?

Walker:   No, not at the time.

Strachwitz:   When did you first realize that, I guess, there was something to catching on to some of those older material and maybe making something else out of it, which I’m sure…

Walker:   After I started making records and I began to get some of the old songs they made years ago, and I started to make them over, like “In the Evening When the Sun Go Down” and “I Want a Little Girl” and things like that. I used new arrangements on them. Which these numbers I knew long years ago, but I didn’t do too many of them. Most of the stuff I do was written by somebody or I wrote them myself.

Strachwitz:   How long did you live in Dallas? How long did you…

Walker:   From two years old up until I was … I left there in ’33, I’d say I was about…

Jimerson:      He was about 18 months old when I carried him there.

Walker:   I was about 18 months old, my mother carried me there, and I left there when I was about 20 what, 25, 24?

Strachwitz:   Where was he born? Where you born …?

Walker:   Linden, Texas.

Strachwitz:   That’s right, you mentioned that.. Is it just outside, not too far from Dallas?

Walker:   Well, actually no. No, it’s closer to Texarkana about 230 mile out of Texarkana, so I would say it’s close to 200 miles from…

Jimerson:   Dallas.

Walker:   Dallas.

Strachwitz:   Then you lived on how long in Dallas you said again?

Walker:   From 18 months up until I was about 24.

Strachwitz:   Okay, 24, and where did you move then? Did you come to Los Angeles?

Walker:   Well…

Jimerson:   He did.

Walker:   Oh, yeah, I left with Ida Cox one time, didn’t I? Ida Cox show.

Jimerson:   Yes, but you just didn’t go away to stay. You were going out a lot.

Walker:   I went out a lot on different shows and come back.

Strachwitz:   Oh is that right. Ida Cox, did you work with her? Where’d that take you, you remember?

Walker:   That took me around, just around the area of Texas and Oklahoma around. like, little towns like Abilene and Albany, Texas, and Brown, Texas.

Strachwitz:   Is that right. Who organized that? Did she have a manager or…?

Walker:   It as her show. She had a manager, but it was Ida Cox show. Her and husband, Jesse Crump, he played the piano.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   Yeah.

Strachwitz:   Do you remember him?

Walker:   He’s in Frisco now. I got to go up and see him, because I heard he was kind of sick.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   Yeah. It’s been, oh, I guess it’s been almost 30 years since I saw him.

Strachwitz:   Do you remember any other shows? You mentioned the first medicine show that you went on and then Ida Cox. Do you remember any others during the ’30s maybe?

Walker:   Well no more than I left home with Cab, that’s the only one I remember. I left to Houston and San Antone, places like that with him on a theater tour.

Strachwitz:   Then when did you finally move to Los Angeles?

Walker:   I come to Los Angeles in 1935.

Strachwitz:   1935. And you’ve lived here … I mean, but you travel a lot?

Walker:   Yeah, but I’ve been here ever since.

Strachwitz:   Could you possibly describe the style that they played, that your stepfather, your father played, or was it more like the way Mance Lipscomb played or what type of thing was it? Do you remember? I guess we already talked about his style.

Walker:   It was just some old-time blues they used to do do…

Jimerson:   I tell you somebody who still plays that style and he’s on [inaudible 00:29:31]. What is his name? He’s a white fellow.

Walker:   Is that right?

Jimerson:   Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. He plays on these cowboy shows.

Strachwitz:   Merle Travis or something?

Jimerson:   Yeah. He still play that style. Merle Travis.

Walker:   Same style.

Strachwitz:   Because some people have told me that Merle Travis plays that style.

Jimerson:   That’s the same style.

Walker:   The same style.

Jimerson:   That’s the same style.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Jimerson:   I used to pick myself.

Strachwitz:   Is that right?

Walker:   She played.

Jimerson:   Same style.

Strachwitz:   What type of songs did you…

Jimerson:   Whatever I could think of and sing. The blues, all the blues and things practically was in Merle Travis style. He still plays it.

Walker:   In those days, people mostly made up their blues anyway. They didn’t use, probably catch the, or hear a man be playing, you don’t what verses he’s going to put into the blues. He just will sing it and make up his verses as they go along. At that time, there wasn’t too much recording going on at that time no way, see.