Peter Walker


Born 1938, Boston, Massachusetts, Peter’s two quintessentially 60s LPs for Vanguard Records can best be described as Eastern raga-folk. Inspired equally by flamenco and a performance of Indian world-fusion sitarist, RAVI SHANKAR, on a stint in San Francisco, WALKER plied his psychedelic passions under the wing of said SHANKAR and sarod player Ali Akbar Khan at the turn of the 60s. Now mentally attuned to his acoustic guitar from playing in and around the Cambridge and Greenwich Village scene during the first half of the 60s (culminating as musical director for L.S.D. guru TIMOTHY LEARY and his Celebration), WALKER was ready to unleash his debut exploration, RAINY DAY RAGA (1967) {*7}. From `Morning Joy’ to `River’ via `White Wind’ (and not forgetting an improv of LENNON-McCARTNEY’s `Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, WALKER and sidekick percussionist BRUCE LANGHORNE (ex-DYLAN) took the listener on a cosmic trip to the land of a new genre, space-folk.
Utilising this manifesto on another solo sojourn, the bearded plucker realised another set, “SECOND POEM TO KARMELA” or GYPSIES ARE IMPORTANT (1968) {*6}. Probably not everyone’s proverbial cup of herbal tea, his importance to the likes of peers and followers such as SANDY BULL and JAMES BLACKSHAW was plain to hear on such intricate and meticulous playing as on `I & Thou’, `Gypsy Song’ and `Southwind’. Sadly, it was to be WALKER’s last effort for nearly four decades, his worldly prowess subsequently proving more worthy across in Spain, although he’d settled enough to raise his family in New York; torch-folk singer KAREN DALTON was a close friend when she died, allegedly of AIDS, in 1993. With a sufficient amount of new recordings (at least four were contributed to a Tompkins Square tribute set, A RAGA FOR PETER WALKER (2006) {*7}), the flamenco man had a somewhat lengthy comeback period; ECHO OF MY SOUL (2008) {*6} recalled his halcyon days of yore and was a good account of where he sat musically nowadays. Note: not to be confused with Australian rock artist/singer of the same name.
Brushing over the largely ignored and often overlooked NYLON AND STEEL {*5} and OCTOBER IN WOODSTOCK {*5}; released simultaneously in December 2008, it would be JACK WHITE that resurrected WALKER’s long-lost career via LIVE AT THIRD MAN (2015) {*7}. Cut in Detroit, the set rekindled the finger-picker’s street-cred by leaps and bounds, a turn around that saw Woodstock’s HARMONY ROCKETS (aka Sean “Grasshopper” Mackowiak of MERCURY REV) call him up to co-headline extracurricular album, “Lachesis / Clotho / Atropos” (2018).
Devastatingly, 80 year-old Peter subsequently lost everything (his dog Zorro, his guitars, art work etc.) in a fire at his home. Almost immediately, a campaign was set up to raise the necessary funds to rebuild his haven – his “Ark”.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Apr2015-Jun2019

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