Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority. - William Jennings Bryan

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

R.I.P. Billy Walker


On Sunday morning, Billy Walker, a country music legend and 46-year member of the historic Grand Ole Opry, was killed in a car wreck near Montgomery, Alabama. He was 77. CBS has the story here.

Also in the vehicle with him was his wife, and two band members.

His big hit songs were "Cross the Brazos at Waco," "Charlie's Shoes," "Funny How Time Slips Away," and "The Morning Paper."

Billy Walker was scheduled to be on the fateful flight in March of 1963 that took Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and Patsy Cline from the world. If not for switching tickets with Hawkshaw Hawkins (who had a private plane) so he could get home for a family emergency, he would have been killed along with the other three legends.

Mr. Walker was extremely underappreciated. He was really one of the few remaining entertainers. Not just singers or performers. Entertainers. He always put on an A-Class show.

I really liked Billy Walker. Three or so years ago, I sent him an e-mail telling him how I liked his songs, and asking if he would have any advice he could pass on to me (as I was, at that time, learning to play the guitar and sing country songs). To my surprise, he e-mailed me back, and gave me the advice to not try to learn to read music, and just to play it by ear--he called it "by heart"--which is what I did, and I'm glad I took his advice.

After that, I e-mailed him occasionaly, and he would e-mail me back, and, eventually, I was honored to call him my friend.

Mr. Walker was a very religious man, and I know that he's gone on to Heaven. The Heaven he talked about so often and was ready to see.

I just wish he didn't have to see it so soon.

-Neal

1 comment:

Palm Lake Opry said...

As Director of Marketing for Palm Lake Opry in Foley, Alabama, please allow me to pass along condolences to the families of all those involved in this tragic accident. Billy Walker, Charlie Lilly, Daniel Patton performed at Palm Lake Opry on Saturday, May 20, 2006, and what a joy it was to spend the day with these gentlemen, along with Billy’s wife, Bettie.