Charles Walker was born in Nashville July 12th, 1940. He was nicknamed 'Wig' by his mother because of his full head of hair as a kid. Like so many others from Charles background his singing began in Church and school.His professional musical journey began in his hometown with his first recording 'Slave To Love' released in 1959 on the Nashville 'Champion' label. He relocated to New York shortly afterwards and met record entrepreneur Bobby Robinson who cut some demos with Charles for his 'Fury' label. Soon afterwards, a chance meeting with the J.C Davis Band, who had played the famed Apollo Theatre, opening for Jackie Wilson led to Charles becoming their lead singer. During his time with the L.C Davis band he toured the country opening for many of the greats of the era, including Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Etta James, Wilson Pickett, and Little Willie John. With Charles as lead singer they recorded 'Sweet Sweet Love' and 'The Chicken Scratch' for Chess records. These cuts never become hits at the time, but their quality has endured that over the years they have become highly collectable. By 1965 Charles had split with the J.C Davis band and taking some of the key players with him formed 'Little Charles and The Sidewinders' . Through the help of Lloyd Price the group recorded 8 sides for Decca, but they didn't chart. The Sidewinders continued to record for more outre labels with names like Botanic, Drum and Red Sands. At one time Charles even had his own label, P R Gallery. If that's an odd name for a record company it's because it was named after a New York art gallery which Charles owned in the eighties. The Sidewinders and a solo album recorded for Lloyd Price in the 70s remains unreleased.
Throughout much of the 70s Charles' music career was on hold as he threw his efforts into his gallery, until he took a short stint as a songwriter for Motown in 1979. He then decided to relocate to Europe, with writing partner Barbara Perrie. Some of his earlier recordings had been reissued in Europe that created a demand for 'live appearances '. Charles spent most of the eighties in England and Spain with his career mostly in once again in limbo before returning to Nashville in 1993.Although reluctantly and not in the best of personal circumstances Charles found that he'd returned to a thriving blues/soul scene and quickly slipped back into the live circuit. Other legendary Nashville soul/blues recording artists were also making comebacks and Charles would often sit in on sessions with the likes of Earl Gaines, Roscoe Shelton, Johnny Jones, Al Garner appearing on Garner''s "Leavin' Tennessee" album on Black Magic; followed by his own disc for the label in 1999. It was picked up by Cannonball in early 2000 and retitled "Leavin' This Old Town".
"I'm Available" (Black Magic 1999)
Re-released as "Leavin' This Old Town" below.
"Leavin' This Old Town" (Cannonball)
1. Homewrecker Legs
Johnny Jones & Charles Walker "In The House" (Crosscut 2001)
1. I Can't Do That
"Number By Heart" (Zane 2003)
1. Number by Heart
***** Producer Fred James had asked: "How do you feel about making a deep soul album Charles, you know, songs with passion and fire and with a feel of the classic era when the sounds of Memphis and Muscles Shoals ruled". Mr. Charles Walker agreed and that is exactly what they did! This is deep southern soul with organ, horns, gutsy singing- the works; transporting you back to the days of Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Percy Sledge and even James Carr in their prime. No that's not hyperbole. Charles had released two other excellent cds in the last five years (2001's "Leavin' This Old Town" & the live disc with Johnny Jones from the Lucerne Blues Festival), but this is his masterpiece! What is most surprising about the sure quality and classic sound of the music is that the majority of the album is original- from the heartbreaking title track, to the chugging blues of "One's Man's Poison" to horn-fueled "Love & Tenderness". There are a few great covers (Elvis Costello's "Allison", Percy Sledge's "It Tears Me Up"), but it's all Charles Walker. Who says they don't make'em like they used to?
The Dynamites with Charles Walker "Kaboom" (Thirty Tigers 2007)
1. Intro (Body
"Still Finding My Way" (Deep Down 2007)
1. Not This Time
**1/2 The Deep Soul voice is in full force but the songs just aren't there. Too many clunkers like "Standin' In A Circle", "Hush Money" and "Chain Reaction". Making matters worse is that the better songs ("Love's Gonna Get You", "Not This Time") were recently cut by others. Preston Shannon on the former and Johnny Neel on the latter. It's got a real band, real horns, the whole deal so how can I complain? Like I said the material just doesn't live up to the performers or performances so it disappointments overall.
The Dynamites with Charles Walker "Burn It Down" (Thirty Tigers 2009)
1. Burn It Down
"Soul Stirring Thing" (Blues/SPV 2010)
1. Soul Stirring Thing
"Love Is Only Everything" (Redeye 2013)
1. So Much More to Do