Oct. 24, 2020 – But it’s “Mr. Bojangles” that gave Walker his greatest success and paved the way for him to record ¡Viva Terlingua!. Written and recorded by Walker for his 1968 album Mr. Bojangles, the song became a Top 10 hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970, with artists as varied as Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond, and Sammy Davis Jr. all recording versions.
In keeping with his outsider approach to the music business, Walker launched his own record label, Tried & True Music, in the Eighties with his wife Susan, who served as his manager and booking agent. He documented his career in the 1999 autobiography Gypsy Songman, recalling his relationships with Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson.
Still, Walker remains most identified for his contributions to the Texas music scene and to country music in general. The dance hall door that adorns the cover of ¡Viva Terlingua! hangs on display in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
“‘Outlaw country’ made it sound like you had to go to jail to be an artist, but it’s just that some people like Waylon and Willie were outside the business [norm],” Walker told Rolling Stone. “People said, ‘We’re different, but we’re not hillbilly country.’ We didn’t blacken our teeth and wear baggy pants, we just liked cowboys and played like that.”