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Passings: Billy Joe Walker, Jr., Producer, Guitarist, Songwriter (1952 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Billy Joe Walker, Jr., who worked in many facets of the recording industry in Nashville, has died after a number of years of declining health.  He was 65.

Walker was born and raised in West Texas and taught himself to play guitar at an early age.  Billy left home at the age of 14 and ended up in Oklahoma City where he played in a number of bands before, eventually, making his way to Los Angeles.

Walker became a session player recording with the likes of Merle Haggard, the Beach Boys and Glen Campbell before producer Jimmy Bowen convinced Billy to move to Nashville. There, he worked in the studio with Ray Charles, Randy Travis the Dixie Chicks and many others.

Eventually adding producer to his resume, he discovered Bryan White and co-produced his first three albums, Bryan White (1994), Between Now and Forever (1996) and The Right Place (1997). He went on to produce albums for Travis Tritt, Mindy McCready,  Tracy Byrd, Mark Chestmut, Billy Ray Cyrus, Colin Raye, Pam Tillis and others.

As a guitarist, he played on records for Michael Nesmith, Karla DeVito, Amy Grant, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Rodney Crowell, George Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty and many more.

Walker also had some success as a songwriter, penning Eddie Rabbitt's number 1 single I Wanna Dance With You (1988) along with his B-b-b-Burnin' Up With Love (1984 / #3 Country).

Finally, he recorded seven New Age records including Warm Front (1993) which reached number 10 on the Billboard New Age chart.