Noted West Coast blues singer-guitarist Phillip Walker died of heart failure July 22 in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 73.
Walker learned to play guitar as a teenager, and fell under the sway of such Lone Star musicians as T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. At 17, he joined the band of Louisiana zydeco musician Clifton Chenier, with whom he toured for two years. He went on to play with Memphis R&B singer Rosco Gordon and Texas border town guitarist Long John Hunter.
After relocating to California and cutting his first singles for J.R. Fulbright’s Elko label, Walker hooked up with producer Bruce Bromberg and songwriter Dennis Walker (later responsible for Robert Cray’s ’80s hits). The pair contributed to the guitarist’s records for Vault, Fantasy, Joliet and Playboy.
After a stint with Rounder Records, Walker recorded for Bromberg’s Hightone label and New Orleans’ Black Top Records. During the ’90s he was associated with Chicago’s Alligator Records, where he cut “Lone Star Shootout” with labelmates Hunter and Lonnie Brooks in 1999. His last album was 2007’s Delta Groove release “Going Back Home.”