Dave Walker

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For other people of the same name, see David Walker.
Dave Walker
Background information
Birth name David Walker
Born (1945-01-25) 25 January 1945 (age 71)
Walsall, West Midlands, England
Genres R&B, pop, rock, blues, heavy metal
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica
Years active early 1960s–1979
1986–Present Day
Associated acts Idle Race
Fleetwood Mac
Savoy Brown
Black Sabbath

David Walker (born 25 January 1945, in Walsall, West Midlands, England)[1] is a singer and guitarist for a number of bands; notably Savoy Brown and Fleetwood Mac. He shortened his name to Dave Walker. He started his career in the early 1960s with a Brumbeat R & B band called The Redcaps, who included his twin brother Mick Walker (born Michael Walker, 25 January 1945, in Walsall); and continued into the 21st century, with Donovan's Brain.

Other bands he played in include Beckett, Idle Race, Hungry Fighter, Raven, Mistress and Black Sabbath.


Early life[edit]

Walker was raised by his strict grandmother in a household where rock and roll was not allowed to be watched on television. His first experience with public singing came at a very young age at a Methodist church, where Dave volunteered to sing "Away in a Manger". As teenagers, Dave and his brother Mick formed a "backyard skiffle" group which played at weddings and youth gatherings.[1]


Walker started his career in the early 1960s with a Brumbeat R & B band called The Redcaps. He initially played rhythm guitar, and later took over as lead vocalist after Ronnie Brown "King" left. The band included Roy Brown and Mick Blythe on guitars, Alan Morley on drums, Mike Walker on bass and Mac Broadhurst on saxophone. They recorded three singles for Decca Records, who were trying to cash in on the success of The Beatles, as The Redcaps had opened for The Beatles in concert on four occasions.

Their first single, in 1963, was a cover of the pulsating Isley Brothers's "Shout" backed by "Little Things You Do" an original tune written by Walker and Roy Brown. However, Lulu had beaten The Redcaps to the British charts with her version of "Shout".

Their next single, in 1964, was a cover of Chuck Berry's "Talking About You" backed by "Come on Girl". It has been rumoured that guitarist Jimmy Page, later of Led Zeppelin, played on "Talking About You", in his early pre-Yardbirds London session days, but Walker has since said Page does not play on this track. The story behind the rumour being that Page was available, if needed, but Redcaps guitarist Roy Brown handled the lead parts himself.[2] The track was recorded in a different studio from where Page was working, on the day of the recording.

Their final single, "Funny Things" an original tune penned by Blythe backed by "Mighty Fine Girl", was also released in 1964 but after all three singles flopped, The Redcaps disbanded.

Between 1965 and 1969 Walker played in Beckett, a band which included Pete Oliver, Don McGinty and Colin Timmons. Beckett played three days a week at the Rum Runner nightclub in Birmingham, but they never recorded.

Early 1970s[edit]

Idle Race[edit]

In early 1970, Jeff Lynne left his original band, Idle Race, to join The Move as it evolved into the Electric Light Orchestra. Idle Race had built a substantial cult following in the Birmingham area, and wanted to continue after Lynne's exit.

To replace Lynne, Walker joined on lead vocals and Mike Hopkins on guitar. The rest of the line-up was Roger Spencer on drums, Dave Pritchard on rhythm guitar and Greg Masters on bass.

In 1970 this new line-up recorded two singles for Liberty Records; a cover of Mungo Jerry's skiffle hit "In the Summertime", ( which reached number one in Argentina) backed by an Idle Race original "Told You Twice". Their second single was a cover of Hotlegs' "Neanderthal Man" backed by another Idle Race original number "Victim of Circumstance".

Also in 1970, Idle Race recorded an album Time Is for Regal Zonophone, however Walker was incorrectly credited as "Richie Walker". Walker wrote two tracks ("I Will See You" and "And The Rain") and co-wrote two others ("Alcatraz" and "We Want It All") on this album. The album was a commercial failure and in 1971 Idle Race started to break up – Walker left and Steve Gibbons joined on vocals, and they evolved into The Steve Gibbons Band.

Savoy Brown[edit]

In 1971, guitarist Kim Simmonds, leader of blues rock boogie band Savoy Brown, lost the rest of his band – guitarist Dave Peverett, drummer Roger Earl and bassist Tony Stevens – who left to form Foghat with ex-Black Cat Bones guitarist Rod Price. Simmonds recruited Dave Bidwell (drums), Paul Raymond (keyboards/guitars – later of UFO and MSG) and Andy Silvester (bass) who had all just left guitarist Stan Webb's Chicken Shack. Dave Walker joined on vocals, to form the most commercially successful line-up of Savoy Brown to date.[citation needed]

They recorded the Street Corner Talking album in 1971 on Parrot/Deram Records, which included one of Savoy Brown's biggest hits "Tell Mama", written by Raymond, and they headlined a tour over Rod Stewart and The Grease Band in early 1971, as persistent touring was beginning to pay off for the Savoys.

The next album, Hellbound Train (Parrot/Deram), was their biggest-selling album to date, reaching the top 40 in the US while the title cut became a concert favourite.

Ex-Blodwyn Pig/Juicy Lucy bassist Andy Pyle replaced Silvester by the next album Lion's Share (Parrot/Deram) for which Walker wrote "Denim Demon". Lion's Share was released in late 1972, after Savoy Brown had previewed tracks on their extensive tours earlier that year. Before the late 1972 tour began, Walker quit Savoy Brown to join Fleetwood Mac.

In addition to the studio albums, two "official" live Savoy Brown albums from this era, also include Walker:- a 1972 New York City concert, Live in Central Park (Relix Records) 1985 (LP) and 1989 (CD); and Jack the Toad Live '70/'72 (Mooncrest Records) 2000 taken from Kim Simmonds' personal collection of live Savoy Brown recordings. Simmonds recordings are all from the same venue: The Gardens Edmonton, Alberta, Canada[3] but on different dates, and only two tracks include Walker.[4]

See Return to Savoy Brown

Fleetwood Mac[edit]

In August 1972 Danny Kirwan was fired from Fleetwood Mac and was replaced by Walker on vocals and Bob Weston on guitar. They joined Fleetwood Mac as they were struggling to record the Penguin album (1973, Reprise Records). Walker only appears on two tracks, his self-penned "The Derelict" (which was still apparently unfinished on release according to some reports, notably the lack of a bassline, hence John McVie's absence from the track) and a cover of Jr. Walker & the All Stars' Motown classic "(I'm A) Roadrunner".

The subsequent tour seemed to go well, and Penguin was the highest charting Fleetwood Mac album in the US at the time, clawing its way into the Top 50. However, during the recording of their next album, Mystery to Me, it was mutually agreed upon that Walker's vocal style and attitude "did not fit in" with Fleetwood Mac and by June 1973 he had left. If anything was ever recorded by Walker for Mystery to Me it was not used, and remains unreleased.

Hungry Fighter[edit]

In 1974 Walker rejoined Savoy Brown colleagues, drummer Dave Bidwell and bassist Andy Silvester and, together with guitarist Danny Kirwan (who Walker had replaced in Fleetwood Mac), they formed Hungry Fighter. Hungry Fighter only managed to play one live gig, at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England (which was not recorded), before folding.

Late 1970s[edit]

Raven and Mistress[edit]

Walker then moved to San Francisco and joined Raven (a band which in its short life had a revolving door of personnel but was fronted throughout by the late ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina). It is known that Walker did some live shows with Raven, but most accounts suggest Walker never recorded with Raven due to legal difficulties. (It was apparently due to these legal problems that they could not finish a record deal they were working on and the album Raven had recorded, without Walker.) In 1976 the album was put on the shelf but was eventually released as John Cipollina's Raven after the band split in 1980.

Walker and some ex-Raven members, joined a new "revolving door" band who called themselves Mistress (not to be confused with the later heavy metal band Mistress).

Mistress encountered legal difficulties as well, though Walker did demo a song he had co-written for the project called "High on the Ride". This track appears on the album, released after Walker had left, although it is unclear whether any Walker vocal takes from the demo sessions appear on the finished product. If they were used, they are uncredited. The album included a minor hit, with the ballad "Mistrusted Love" scraping into the US top 50 singles chart. Legal difficulties also caused the eponymous album recorded by Mistress (again without Walker) in 1977 to be shelved, but it was released in 1979 by RSO Records, nearly two years after Mistress broke up.

Black Sabbath[edit]

Tony Iommi remembered Walker from their days in Birmingham, and contacted Walker in San Francisco, asking him to join Black Sabbath, as singer Ozzy Osbourne had just left the band.[5]

On the flight from San Francisco to London in November 1977, and for the next three weeks, Walker wrote lyrics to the new music which the remaining members of Black Sabbath (guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Terry 'Geezer' Butler and drummer Bill Ward) wrote for their next album. No vocals were recorded with Walker, but the new line-up appeared on the BBC Midlands TV program "Look Hear" on 6 January 1978, performing their hit "War Pigs" plus an early version of what would eventually become "Junior's Eyes".

Shortly after this appearance, Osbourne decided to rejoin Black Sabbath, so Dave Walker was out before recording with the band. None of Walker's lyrics were used for Black Sabbath's resulting Never Say Die! album, because Osbourne would not sing any material written during his time out of the band. Geezer Butler thus resumed his traditional job as Black Sabbath's primary lyricist, and completely new lyrics for the album were written, including what became "Junior's Eyes". After the 1979 tour to promote the album, Osbourne was asked to leave, and was replaced by Ronnie James Dio.

After being fired from Black Sabbath in January 1978, Dave Walker more or less left the music business.

Later career[edit]

Return to Savoy Brown[edit]

After being out of the music business for eight years, in 1986 Kim Simmonds persuaded Walker to rejoin his revamped Savoy Brown, which included Al Macomber on drums and Jim Dagnesi on bass.

In 1987 Walker moved to Gallup, New Mexico where he lived until 1998 and Savoy Brown recorded the Make Me Sweat album, released in early 1988 on GNP Crescendo Records, followed in April 1989 by the Kings of Boogie album (also on GNP Crescendo).

Macomber was replaced by Pete Mendillo on drums, Lou Kaplan replaced Dagnesi on bass and Rick Jewett augmented the line-up on keyboards for the tour to promote Kings of Boogie, and in November 1990 a live album from this tour was released called Live And Kickin' (GNP Crescendo). These well received albums were produced by Neil Norman who sought out Dave's infectious comedic style.

However, by September 1991, Dave Walker had had enough of gruelling tours, so he left Savoy Brown again.

Donovan's Brain and later bands[edit]

Walker had a band called The Pleasure Chorizos in his later New Mexico days but nothing came from it.

By the late 1990s Walker had relocated to Bozeman, Montana, where he met up with an old friend from his San Francisco days, Ron Sanchez, who had (and still has) a psychedelic garage band called Donovan's Brain, who have an "open door" approach to personnel, jamming and making music.

The music Donovan's Brain were working on, harked back to Walker's Idle Race days, which interested him, so he got involved, although, with their "open door" approach, it is unclear if Walker was/is a "member" of Donovan's Brain or not.

In 1999/2000 he worked on a Donovan's Brain session for their Tiny Crustacean Light Show album (originally on Get Hip Records but now on Career Records), in which he did much of the backing vocals and some lead vocals.

He also played tambourine on a track by The Nomads (who were working in the same studio as Donovan's Brain on 24 May 1999) called "Top Alcohol", which was the "B-side" to their "The King of Night Train" single (White Jazz Records).

Walker sang on a rare Donovan's Brain track, "22 Lost Marbles" (which appeared on A Pot By Any Other Name, a free CD with issue 30 (Spring 2001) of the independent music magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope), and a Brain cover of a song "The Single #2", originally by the band Man. This cover appeared on a various-artists Man tribute CD Man, We're Glad We Know You: A Tribute to the Man Band (originally a private pressing, but now on Career Records).

Several tracks including Walker, that were left over from the TCLS sessions, were released in January 2003 on the Donovan's Brain album, The Great Leap Forward (Career Records)

On that same label, an album by Angie Pepper was released in 2003 on which Dave recorded backing vocals one track.

In 2004, Walker also contributed vocals to a cover of I'm Tired, on founder member of Savoy Brown John O'Leary's album "Sins". This album was re-released as "Two For The Show" in 2010 on the Acrobat label.[6][7]

In 2005 Walker recorded Mostly Sonny – A Tribute To Sonny Boy Williamson on The Mooreland Street Records label. Musicians included members of Peter Green's Splinter Group, The Kinks, Downliners Sect (Don Craine & Keith Grant) and former Yardbird Ray Majors on lead guitar. In addition former Savoy Brown member John O'Leary is featured on harmonica.

Walking Underwater[edit]

In 2007 Dave Walker recorded and released Walking Underwater, a CD featuring new material by Dave Walker, Bob Britten, and William O'Keeffe.

Dave Walker Band[edit]

Walker put together a new band with some of Montana's finest musicians. The new Dave Walker Band includes Chris Cundy (Piano, Keys, Hammond Organ), Jimmy Lewis (Guitars), Eddie Tsuru (Bass) and Mike Gillan (Drums). The band has been performing since January 2008 with appearances at Rockin' The Rivers Music Festival and Magic City Blues Festival.

CD "Crazy ALl the Time" released 17 July 2010.

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Dave Walker Page 2004". Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Dave Walker Q&A, October 12–25, 2000
  3. ^ Although Foghat's website shows the location as the Coliseum, this would not have been possible, as the Coliseum, now Rexall Place, did not open until November 1974.
  4. ^ One track is from November 1970, before Walker joined Savoy Brown, seven tracks are from October 1972, after Walker had left, but two tracks are from March 1972 when Walker was in Savoy Brown
  5. ^ Saulnier, Jason (30 December 2011). "Dave Walker Interview". Music Legends. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived 9 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "> Albums A-Z". Acrobat Music. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 

External links[edit]