Johnny "Big Moose" Walker

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Johnny "Big Moose" Walker
Birth nameJohn Mayon Walker
Also known asBig Moose, Busy Head, Moose John, J. W. Walker[1]
Born(1927-06-27)June 27, 1927
Stoneville, Mississippi, United States
DiedNovember 27, 1999(1999-11-27) (aged 72)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresChicago blues, electric blues[2]
Occupation(s)Pianist, organist, bassist, singer
Instrument(s)Piano, organ, bass guitar
Years active1947–1991

Johnny "Big Moose" Walker (June 27, 1927 – November 27, 1999) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues pianist and organist. He worked with many blues musicians, including Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Lowell Fulson, Choker Campbell, Elmore James, Earl Hooker, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Dawkins and Son Seals.[2]

Walker was primarily a piano player but was also proficient on the electronic organ and the bass guitar (he played the bass guitar when backing Muddy Waters). He recorded solo albums and accompanied other musicians in concert and on recordings.[2]

Life and career[edit]

John Mayon Walker was born in the unincorporated community of Stoneville, Mississippi, partly of Native American ancestry.[2] He acquired his best-known stage name in his childhood in Greenville, Mississippi, derived from his long, flowing hair.[1] He learned to play several instruments, including the church organ, guitar, vibraphone and tuba.[2]

He began his musical career as a pianist, in 1947, touring with various blues bands and backing such notable artists as Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Elmore James, Lowell Fulson and Choker Campbell. Walker served in the United States Army from 1952 to 1955, serving during the Korean War.[2] In 1955, billed as Moose John, Ultra Records released the single, "Talkin' 'Bout Me".[3] His own recordings, released under various names, were unsuccessful, but Walker started working more consistently in the mid-1950s, notably backing Earl Hooker and Elmore James.[2] Walker moved to Chicago in the late 1950s and over the next decade accompanied Sunnyland Slim, Otis Rush, Muddy Waters (for whom Walker played bass guitar), Ricky Allen, Little Johnny Jones, and Howlin' Wolf.[4] In 1960, he accompanied Junior Wells on his best-known recording, "Messin' with the Kid".[5] The following year Walker played on James's recordings of "Look on Yonder Wall" and "Shake Your Moneymaker". In 1962, Walker played on Waters's recording of "You Shook Me". During the 1960s, a couple of obscure Chicago-based record labels, Age and The Blues, released Walker's solo singles.[1]

By 1969, Walker had rejoined Earl Hooker and played on the latter's album Don't Have to Worry (ABC Bluesway).[1] After Hooker's death in 1970, Walker played backing for Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young and Louis Myers.[1] His debut album, Ramblin' Woman, was issued in 1970 by ABC. He provided piano accompaniment on Andrew Odom's album Farther on the Road[6] and on If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im, by John Lee Hooker, featuring Earl Hooker.[4][7]

In December 1979, Willie James Lyons played guitar on Walker's album, Going Home Tomorrow.[8]

Alligator Records utilised Walker's playing on their Living Chicago Blues series of recordings.[1][9] He toured Europe in 1979 with the Chicago Blues Festival.[4] His second album, Blue Love, was released in 1984.[10] He later toured in New Zealand and Canada.[4] He recorded with Son Seals[2] and performed at the Burnley Blues Festival, in England, in 1991.[4] Walker had a stroke prior to this engagement, and subsequent strokes left him unable to perform.[4] Evidence Music reissued Blue Love in 1996, with five bonus tracks.[10]

Walker lived in a nursing home in Chicago before his death, at the age of 72, in November 1999.[1]


Solo albums[edit]

Year Title Record label
1970 Ramblin Woman ABC
1979 Going Home Tomorrow Isabel Records
1984 Blue Love JSP
1994 Swear to Tell the Truth JSP


Collaboration albums[edit]

Year Title Record label
1979 Lefty Dizz featuring Big Moose Walker Black & Blue


As sideman[edit]

With Earl Hooker

With John Lee Hooker

With Lightnin' Hopkins

With Curtis Jones

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker". 1927-06-27. Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker: Biography, Credits, Discography". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  3. ^ "Moose John, 'Talkin' 'Bout Me' / 'Wrong Doin' Woman'". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Tony Russell (2000-02-03). "Big Moose Walker". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  5. ^ Danchin, Sebastian (2001). Earl Hooker: Blues Master. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 132–133. ISBN 1-57806-306-X.
  6. ^ "Andrew Odom, Farther on the Road: Credits". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  7. ^ "John Lee Hooker, If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im: Credits". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  8. ^ "Illustrated Isabel Records discography". Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Various artists, Living Chicago Blues, Vol. 1: Credits". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  10. ^ a b Thomas, Stephen (1996-09-03). "Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker, Blue Love: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  11. ^ Koda, Cub. "Lefty Dizz, Lefty Dizz with Big Moose Walker: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  12. ^ "Lefty Dizz, Lefty Dizz feat. Big Moose Walker". Retrieved 2013-03-11.

External links[edit]