The Ultimate Motown Band! Jul 19, 2004 21:26:50 GMT -5
Post by Motorcity on Jul 19, 2004 21:26:50 GMT -5
Autry De Walt, Jr. (born Oscar G. Mixon) first picked up a saxophone while in high school; inspired by Louis Jordan Walker. After graduating high school, he began playing jazz around the local clubs in South Bend, Indiana. He played with various bands; Jumping Jacks and The Stix Nix, led by future All-Star, Billy "Stix" Nicks. After relocating to Battle Creek, Michigan, it was at the that time that he formed Jr. Walker & The All Stars. By the late 50s, the group consisted of:
- Jr Walker- Tenor Saxophone and lead vocals
- Vic Thomas- Keyboards
- Willie Woods- Guitar
- James Graves- Drums
While playing clubs in the area, the group was noticed by future Motowner, Johnny Bristol. Bristol knew Harvey Fuqua, who had his own label at the time, and recommended the group to Fuqua; Fuqua liked the group and signed them to his Harvey label. In 1963, Motown acquired both his Harvey and Tri-Phi labels, and Jr Walker & the All Stars began recording for the Soul subsidiary in 1964.
The group became Soul's first hit artists with "Shotgun",written by Jr. Walker, in 1965. Holland-Dozier-Holland penned future hits; "(I'm a) Road Runner" and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" both released in 1966. By that time, James Graves had departed and Billy "Stix" Nicks returned to the band after a stint with the Army.
Other party hits included; 1965's "Do The Boomerang" and "Shake and Finger Pop"; 1967's "Pucker Up Buttercup" and "Come See About Me"; 1968's "Hip City, Part Two".
Walker, who never considered himself a singer, was taken aback when producer/songwriter and old acquaitance, Johnny Bristol, offered the group the ballad, "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" in 1968. The following year found Bristol continuing to be persistent in his vision, to which Walker reportedly let him know,
"Man this ain't my bag!"
Bristol continued pushing, Walker relented and the group ended up with another hit! More hit ballads followed; 1969's "These Eyes";1970's "Gotta Hold On To This Feeling"And "Do You See My Love (For You Growing)"; 1972's "Walk In The Night".
Jr. Walker and the All Stars remained at Motown until sometime in 1977, recording for a short time with writer/producer Norman Whitfield's Whitfield label; and returning to Motown briefly in 1983. Jr. Walker also provided the saxophone solo for "Urgent", a hit for the group Foreigner.
The band, renamed Jr. Walker and his All Stars, continued to tour through out the '90s.
Jr. Walker passed on November 23, 1995, after a battle with cancer. He will forever be remembered as the only instrumentalist to record for Motown, under his own name.