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Joe Louis Walker /USA/
After eleven years one of the greatest stars ever played at BLUES ALIVE 68-year-old American guitar veteran Joe Louis Walker is coming back. He has been recording with Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, and Shemekia Copeland. He is the two-time holder of the most prestigious Blues Music Award and two Grammys (for the albums with B.B. King and James Cotton). His discography numbers twenty-three solo albums, countless compilations, and guest appearances on perhaps dozens of albums by other artists.

Joe Louis Walker was born in 1949 in San Francisco. He first took the guitar at the age of eight, at only sixteen he was considered at the local scene as a luminary. During his apprenticeship he had the opportunity to play with celebrities such as John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, and the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. Walker was part of the hippie’s scene in Haight Ashbury, San Francisco, where he made friends with the famous guitarist Mike Bloomfield. The relaxed atmosphere of the late sixties had also its dark sides, and Walker became addicted to drugs as many of his fellows. A sad event made him change his lifestyle - the tragic death of Mike Bloomfield. Joe Louis Walker totally despised blues music, graduated from college, and turned his mind into "higher spheres" when he performed with the Spiritual Corinthians gospel quartet.

Only after his performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1985, Walker decided to return to the blues roots and started Bosstalkers. A year later, he released his debut album Cold Is The Night, which became a sensation with music reviewers. In 1993 the breakthrough guitar album was Blues Survivor, which entailed the eclectic era of Joe Louise Walker when the influences of gospel, jazz, soul, fun and rock were absorbed into a very specific, purely personal form.

Another major album in Joe Louise Walker's discography is undoubtedly the Great Guitars of 1997, which was one of the best-selling blues albums of decades. Walker invited to the studio a long line of music celebrities of several generations: Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Otis Rush, Robert Lockwood Jr., Matt "Guitar" Murphy and Steve Cropper.

A number of balanced albums released by Walker for the established labels Verve, Telarc or JSP was unfortunately interrupted by an unplanned pause. At the turn of the millennium, Walker's personal life had fallen into a deep crisis due to his traumatic divorce, there had been only a little step to his re-addiction to drugs and alcohol after twenty years of strict abstinence. Walker moved to France for two years, and after returning to the US in December 2005, he went into rehab voluntarily. He mastered the problems and returned with a motto "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" on his "endless tour" and recording studios.

Since his first concert at BLUES ALIVE in 2007 he has released five more albums. A major step in his career was signing a contract with the influential Chicago label Alligator for two albums Hellfire and Hornet's Nest, both produced by Tom Hambridge, known as the "right hand" of Buddy Guy's recent albums. The last Walker album Everybody Wants A Piece (2015) for the label Provogue was produced by Paul Nelson, a guitarist and producer linked to Johnny Winter's last active years. Like many of his albums before, it got the Grammy Award nomination.

 

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