Bill Walker (music director)
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May 28, 1927 |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Occupation(s)||Composer, arranger, producer, musical director|
William Alfred “Bill” Walker (born May 28, 1927) is an Australian-born American composer and conductor. Born in Sydney, he attended the University of Sydney's Conservatorium of Music before moving to South Africa.
In 1959, he began working at RCA Records in Johannesburg, South Africa. One of Walker’s tasks was to arrange, conduct and record cover versions of songs that were popular in America. While there, he worked with many country stars who were touring Africa, including Jim Reeves. Reeves also filmed the movie Kimberley Jim in South Africa, for which Walker wrote the score. Reeves offered Walker the post of musical director on a new television series he was set to host. Walker moved to the United States and arrived in Nashville, TN just in time to learn that Reeves had died in a plane crash.
Walker decided to stay in the U. S. and apply for citizenship. Once settled in Nashville, he connected with Chet Atkins, who was working with artist Eddy Arnold. Atkins asked Walker to do orchestral arrangements for Arnold's album My World, which contained the #1 single "Make The World Go Away". That record became Walker's first gold. Walker also arranged orchestra scores for concerts and television appearances.
In the late 1960s, Walker got offered the position of musical director for the Johnny Cash Show on ABC. Cash would end every show by shouting, "Good night, Bill Walker!"  The show lasted for 58 episodes. Walker continued as music director for other Johnny Cash television specials after the series was cancelled, including Johnny Cash's Christmas specials.
The Bill Walker Orchestra was also featured on The Statler Brothers Show on TNN, for the show's entire seven-year run. The Statler Brothers Show was the top-rated show on TNN during its entire tenure. Walker also directed the music for three of the Statler Brothers' TV specials.
Walker's other TV credits include Music Hall America, Nashville Remembers Elvis on His Birthday, Ann-Margret...Rhinestone Cowgirl and the Music City News Awards, among others.
In the late 1970s, Walker started Con Brio Records with his son, Jeff Walker. The label won “Best New Label” from Billboard Magazine in 1977. Bill handled A&R and producing while Jeff handled operations. Later, in 2007, Jeff founded the digital distribution label GMV Nashville primarily as a way to re-release the Con Brio titles. Con Brio's roster included Don King, Terri Hollowell, and Dale McBride, among others.
Walker currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, singer Jeanine Ogletree.
- Bresnick, p. 42
- Bresnick, p. 42-43
- Bresnick, p.43
- Cusic, p. 152
- “Arnold Profile: Conquerer [sic?] of 2 Musical Worlds”. Billboard Magazine 5/28/66, 92 pages, Vol. 78, No. 21, p. 6, ISSN 0006-2510
- Cusic, p.152
- “Studio Track.” Billboard Magazine 7/15/72, 60 pages, Vol. 84, No. 29, p. 8, ISSN 0006-2510
- “Judge Rules for Bill Walker In Suit Against Fargo And Others.” Billboard Magazine 12/14/74, 72 pages, Vol. 86, No. 50, p. 51, ISSN 0006-2510
- Industry Profile: Jeff Walker
- Bresnick, Paul and Jonathan Lethem. Da Capo Best Music Writing. Da Capo Press, 2002.
- Cusic, Don. Discovering Country Music. Praeger, 2008.