Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today’s Classic 45 (or in this case, 78) takes us back nearly seventy-one years for the debut effort of the “Tall Texan”, Billy Walker. Though never attaining the same level of superstardom as the top acts of his era, Billy still enjoyed a long, successful career as a hit maker, and performer (he was a Grand Ole Opry regular), staying active until his death in a 2006 car accident.
It was September 1949, when Billy’s very first record hit the market. He had just joined Capitol Records, who signed Billy on the recommendation of Hank Thompson.
“Headin’ For Heartaches” was Billy’s first effort; a song that he also wrote that features a medium up tempo, pure Country sound. What I found interesting about this record is how much the then-twenty-year-old Walker sounded like Eddy Arnold. Even the accompaniment is similar to what was heard on Arnold’s records of the day. If you played it without telling people who it was, some would think it was Eddy singing.
While “Headin’ For Heartaches” wasn’t a big hit, it did start Billy on his career in records. He would release a few more singles with Capitol, but none were hits and by 1951, he had left for Columbia, where he would stay until 1965. In addition, Billy would also spend time with Monument, RCA Victor, and MGM. His first hit single wouldn’t come until 1954’s “Thank You for Calling”, which became his first top ten single that Summer. From then, through 1976’s “Don’t Stop in My World (If You’re Just Passing Through)”, Billy Walker would have thirty-eight top forty Country hits on Billboard, including sixteen top ten hits. One single would climb to number one, 1962’s “Charlie’s Shoes”, but seven others would peak at either two or three, including “A Million and One”, which spent a month at number two in 1966. “Cross The Brazos At Waco” (1964), “Bear With Me A Little Longer” (1967), “When A Man Loves A Woman” (not the Percy Sledge song; 1970), “She Goes Walking Through My Mind” (1970), “Sing Me A Love Song To Baby” (1972), and “I’m Gonna Keep On Lovin’ You” (1971) were his other top three successes.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.