Aaron “T-Bone” Walker
Born Aaron Thibeault Walker in May of 1910, T-Bone single-handedly revolutionized western culture as a whole, and modern music in particular, by introducing the electric lead guitar into the blues. His fluid phrasing in both instrument and voice have gone on to form the foundation which legends like Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Duane Allman, and Jimi Hendrix have freely admitted to building their own legacies upon.
It is ironic then, that a musician of such far-reaching influence as T-Bone would have first made a name for himself by letting his feet do the talking as a dancer, first for his stepfather’s weekend band and then later for the legendary Cab Calloway. But his fancy footwork served him well, for it not only made him a fantastic showman, but endowed him with a unique mastery of rhythm and timing. While he only lent his now signature vocals to the 1940 cut “T-Bone Blues”, a pair of recordings for Capitol Records two years later, “Mean Old World” and “I Got A Break Baby” respectively, revealed how his innovative guitar work could embellish his impassioned vocal delivery, effectively establishing a musical dialog that would be retold throughout the ages.
But it was his first offering to Black & White Records in 1947 in that embedded his music into the imaginations of musicians and audiences the world over. “They Call It Stormy Monday” not only became a radio mainstay, but can be effortlessly cited as the epicenter of the enormous blues explosion of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, and thus the subsequent invention of a new genre called “rock n’roll” thereafter. Not content with one classic under his belt, for the next ten years T-Bone embarked on a breathlessly prolific string of hits, including “T-Bone Shuffle”, “West Side Baby”, “Glamour Girl”, “Strollin’ With Bones”, “The Hustle Is On”, “Cold Cold Feeling”, “Blue Mood”, “Vida Lee”, “Party Girl”, “Railroad Station Blues”, “Two Bones And A Pick”, “Blues Rock” and concluding with “Shufflin' The Blues”.
He spent most of the ‘60s by mesmerizing audiences throughout Europe and rang in the ‘70s by winning a Grammy for the album Good Feelin’. Though T-Bone would leave this world a few years later in body, his spirit lives on not only in the generations to come that will discover his artistry, but also through his daughter, Bernita Walker, who has dedicated her life to affecting social change in her own way via two Los Angeles-based organizations: Project Peacemakers, a domestic abuse agency that offers support groups, education, and anger management courses; and Another Step Up, which focuses on at-risk teenage women. Both organizations can be reached at (323) 291-2525.