Junior Walker and The All Stars Biography
Junior Walker & The All-Stars
Junior Walker & The All Stars were a soul band for the Motown Label.
Junior Walker, known for the song Shotgun, was an influential member of the Motown Records stable of the 1960’s. Born Autry Dewalt II, in Blytheville, Arkansas, he grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He received his first saxophone from his uncle and he would immediately being playing in high school and local bands. The first band he joined was called ‘The Jumping Jacks.’ By the 1950’s, he joined the band The Rhythm Rockers, started by his longtime friend Billy Nicks. Nicks would later be drafted into the US Army, so the band decided to relocate to Battle Creek where they regularly played at The Grotto. Thanks to exposure from playing at The Grotto, Walker and his band-mates would sign with Harvey Fuqua, who had recently started his own record label. In 1962 they changed their name to Junior Walker & The All Stars. Harvey’s record label was purchased by Motown Records, and the group would wind up recording with Soul Records.
They would release 16 Studio Albums between 1965 and 1983. His stepfather gave him the nickname Junior and when he became a professional musician in 1962, he adoped the stage name Junior Walker. Three Albums (Shotgun, 1965, Soul Session, 1966, and RoadRunner, 1966) would place in the Top 10 US R&B Charts. Eight of the Albums would place in the US Top 200. He would also produce two Live Albums, 4 Compilations and 37 Singles.
After graduating from high school, Junior would play in local Jazz and R&B Clubs. By the late 50’s he formed Junior Walker & The All Stars, the name which was inspired by a fan who would exclaim “You Guys Are All Stars” after a performance.
Walker was one of popular music’s most recognized saxophonists. Bill Clinton said, “I never will forget playing a saxophone riff with Junior Walker. It was a great thing. And I always loved that.” The band is credited with recording some of Motown’s most enduring hits. He was an important influence on many preeminent sax players, including David Sanborn, Jimmy Vivino and Geoffrey Himes. “Junior Walker and King Curtis were the two biggest influences on me,” Himes said. ” … Junior was more animated, and he got straight to the point. He knew it wasn’t how many notes you play but what each note says—quality, not quantity.”
By the summer of 1969, ‘What Does It Take To Win’ was released and would go on to be the bands biggest hit. The song hit the top five on the Hot 100. It would also place in the top ten for the US Cash Box Top 100, US Billboard Hot Black Singles.
During the 70’s Disco Era, Junior would perform as a solo artist
In 2002, Shotgun was inducted into Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also voted a Legendary Michigan song in 2010.
He continued to perform thoughout the ’80’s and ’90’s. His last tour was with The Temptations, the Foup Tops. He died at the age of 53 due to cancer in 1995.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Were Junior Walker and The All Stars?
Junior Walker & the Allstars were an American Motown soul group who achieved their greatest fame in the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s lineup consisted of Jr. Walker (born Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr.; saxophone), Ronnie Smith (drums), Billy Nicks (trumpet) and Tony Washington (trombone). The group’s signature song, “Shotgun”, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965.
Where Was Junior Walker Born?
Junior Walker was born in Blytheville, Arkansas.
What Happened To Junior Walker and The All Stars?
The group originally formed in the early 1960s as the house band for the legendary Motown label. The group scored their first major hit with the song “Shotgun,” which reached number one on the Billboard R&B charts in 1965. The group continued to have success throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, scoring several more hits including “I’m a Road Runner,” “Do You See What I See,” and “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love).” The group’s last major hit came in 1972 with the song “Daddy’s Little Girl.” The group disbanded shortly after, with lead singer JR Walker pursuing a solo career.
What Hits Did Junior Walker and The All Stars Have?
“Shotgun,” “Cleo’s Mood,” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” are some of the hits by Junior Walker and the All Stars. The group was formed in 1960 in Bandon, Mississippi, and they were one of the most successful Motown acts of the 1960s. They continued to perform and tour throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and they were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.