picture of Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker
Johnny 'Big Moose' Walker
Johnny (* 1927 in Stoneville/MS) was a Chicago blues pianist and organist. He acquired his best-known stage name in his childhood in Greenville, MS, derived from his long, flowing hair. He learned to play several instruments, including the church organ, guitar, vibraphone and tuba.
 
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 US Army from 1952 to 1955, serving during the Korean War. In 1955, billed as Moose John, Ultra Records released the single "Talkin' 'Bout Me". 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. 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. In 1960, he accompanied Junior Wells on his best-known recording, "Messin' with the Kid". The following year Walker played on James' recordings of "Look on Yonder Wall" and "Shake Your Moneymaker". In 1962, Walker played on Waters' 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.
 
By 1969, Walker had rejoined Earl Hooker and played on the latter's album Don't Have to Worry. After Hooker's death in 1970, Walker played backing for Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young and Louis Myers. His debut album, Ramblin' Woman, was issued in 1970 by ABC. He provided piano accompaniment on Andrew Odom's album Farther on the Road and on If You Miss 'Im...I Got 'Im, by John Lee Hooker, featuring Earl Hooker.
 
Alligator Records utilised Walker's playing on their Living Chicago Blues series of recordings. He toured Europe in 1979 with the Chicago Blues Festival. His second album, Blue Love, was released in 1984. He later toured in New Zealand and Canada. He recorded with Son Seals and performed at the Burnley Blues Festival, in England, in 1991. Walker had a stroke prior to this engagement, and subsequent strokes left him unable to perform. He died in November 1999.
 
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Discography
Deluxe Edition
Alligator Records ALCD5611
compilation
Son Seals, vocals, guitar Henri Ford, alto sax, baritone sax
Reggie Allmon, tenor sax
Bill McFarland, trombone
Dan Rabinowitz, trumpet
Kenneth Cooper, trumpet
Paul Howard, trumpet
Dan Rabinowitz, flugelhorn
Red Groetzinger, flute
Lacy Gibson, guitar
Mark Weaver, guitar
Steve Plair, guitar
A.C. Reed, tenor banjo
John 'Big Moose' Walker, organ
Sidney James Wingfield, organ
Tony Zamagni, organ
Alberto Gianquinto, piano
King Solomon, piano
John Riley, bass
Johnny Gayden, bass
Noel Neal, bass
Harry 'Snapper' Mitchum, bass
Bert 'Top Hat' Robinson, drums
Charles L. Caldwell, drums
David D. Anderson, drums
Dave Russell, drums
Ray 'Killer' Anderson, drums
Tony Gooden, drums
Willie Hayes, drums

 
Sound Samples
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