b. 1 September 1907, Scott, Louisiana, USA, d. 15 August 1968, Rayne, Louisiana, USA. Walker’s father was a well-known local fiddler and the boy took an early interest in music, choosing the accordion as his instrument. The family moved to Orange, Texas, where he and his brother, Elton Walker, a fiddle player, formed a band, the Walker Brothers. This was in the early 20s and they soon built a local following for their blend of Cajun and hillbilly music. They made their first recording for Bluebird Records in 1929, setting down ‘La Breakdown La Louisiane’ and ‘La Vie Malheureuse’. In the mid-30s the band won prizes and more fans at the National Folk Festival in Dallas, Texas. By this time, Walker had become a very accomplished accordion player, on a par with the better-known Nathan Abshire.
Despite his popularity, Walker could not make a living with his music and worked mainly as a rice farmer. For a while, the accordion fell out of favour as musical tastes changed and Walker’s secondary career as a musician declined even further. In time, though, the integral role of the instrument in the authentic Cajun sound became apparent and in the years following the end of World War II, Walker’s career took an upswing and he again recorded successfully. Some of his recordings were issued by offshoots of major labels, such as Bluebird and Brunswick Records, but most were cut for the specialist independents that proliferated in the region where he worked, including Vee Pee, Jin, Swallow, La Louisianne and Khoury’s, the latter operated in the mid-50s by Lake Charles entrepreneur George Khoury.
Walker’s group, the Wandering Aces, included in its ranks Lionel LeLeux, the noted fiddler. Among the songs Walker recorded are ‘Chère Alice’, ‘Reno Waltz’ and ‘Yeaux Noir’. The bulk of his repertoire was formed by his own compositions, all of which not only fit snugly into the Cajun tradition, but over the years have become a part of it.