The Walker Brothers





Although many fans believed that The Walker Brothers were siblings from England, they were actually neither. Before they formed, John Maus had performed and recorded several unsuccessful singles as a duo with his sister Judy. Scott Engle had been with an instrumental band called The Routers who scored a Billboard #19 hit with "Let's Go (Pony)" in 1962. Maus and Engle came together with two others billed as The Surfaris, although none of them had played on any of that band's hit records. By early 1964 the pair had formed The Walker Brothers Trio by adding drummer Al Schneider, who was left behind when they signed with Mercury Records. As a duo, The Walker Brothers landed a steady gig at Gazzari's in Hollywood, and appeared on the TV shows Shindig! and Ninth Street A Go Go. Later that same year they met drummer Gary Leeds, who had been with a pre-hit version of The Standells and more recently toured the UK with P.J. Proby. He convinced John and Scott that their blend of Blues and Rock would go over well in England, and with financial backing from Leeds' step-father, the three traveled to England in February, 1965.

Before long the band came to the attention of record producer and A&R man Johnny Franz who signed them to the Mercury affiliate, Philips Records. Their first release, "Pretty Girls Everywhere" failed to chart, but the follow-up, "Love Her" made the British Top 20 in June, 1965, at a time when the English music scene was exploding. For their third single, they chose to cover a Burt Bacharach and Hal David ballad called "Make It Easy on Yourself", which had been a Billboard #20 hit for Jerry Butler in 1962. Scott Engel, who had by now started calling himself Scott Walker, recorded the tune with studio musicians and a full orchestra. By August, the single had cracked the UK Top 10 and on September 25th it reached number one. As with many UK hits of the time, the record quickly crossed the Atlantic where it shot up the American charts to reach #16 in early December. Ireland and Canada also embraced the song, and it became a huge hit in both of those countries, selling over a million copies world-wide.

A song called "My Ship Is Coming In" was next out of the gate, and proved to be another UK smash when it reached #3. Stateside however, the record enjoyed only a one week stay on the Hot 100 where it stalled at #87 in January, 1966. By now, The Walker Brothers were a huge success in England, with some reports saying that their fan club was even bigger than that of The Beatles. Their next single, a cover version of a Franki Valli song written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio called "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", returned The Walker Brothers to the top of the UK chart in mid-March. Once again, record buyers in America took notice and the tune rose quickly up the Billboard singles chart to #13 during a three month run. It also cracked the Top 20 in seven other countries.

Then, as quickly as their star had risen, it seemed to fall even more rapidly. After a couple of other minor UK chart hits, The Walker Brothers' work visas ran out and they were forced to leave the country for no less than six months. Following a tour of Great Britain with Cat Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck and Jimi Hendrix in late 1967, they toured Japan the following year. By now however, the grind of touring, internal strife and artistic differences had taken their toll, and the band split up and the end of that Oriental trek. All three continued to record as solo artists, with Scott's career being by far the most successful. He released four albums that did well in England, with the second, "Scott 2" topping the UK album chart in 1968. A single called "Jackie" reached #22. He also enjoyed a career as a record producer, as well as dabbling in Classical and eventually Country music. Gary formed a band called Gary Walker And The Rain, who released a handful of modestly selling singles in 1968. John released a forty-five called "Annabella", which reached #24 in the UK, but follow-ups did not do as well.

By late 1974, the trio agreed to reform The Walker Brothers. The next year saw them release an album called "No Regrets", from which the title track rose to #7 in Great Britain. Two more LPs, "Lines" and "Nite Flights" did not fare as well, and when their contract with GTO Records expired, they again went their separate ways.

John went on to establish his own recording studio in California and began customizing guitars. In 2000, he founded his own record label and released a CD called "You". He toured Britain again as part of an oldies tour in 2004, and released an album called "Silver Sixties Tour 2004". In 2007 John released two new CDs, "Just For You" and "Songs Of Christmas And Inspiration". He played Great Britain again in 2009 as part of an oldies tour and in 2010 with The Dakotas. In 2010, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and died at his Los Angeles home on May 7th, 2011.

Scott kept a low profile over the next few years, not releasing any new material until 1984's "Climate of Hunter", which bore little resemblance to his earlier work. It wasn't until the early 1990s that his first four albums were issued on CD with the compilation "No Regrets - The Best of Scott Walker And The Walker Brothers 1965-1976" hit #4 on the UK album chart. Two years after that he appeared on a song called "Man From Reno", a duet with Goran Bregovie that he co-wrote for the soundtrack to the movie Toxic Affair. In May, 1995 he released his first studio album in eleven years called "Tilt", and although no singles were issued from the collection, the CD itself climbed to #27 on the UK album chart. The following year Scott recorded Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away" for the soundtrack to the film To Have And To Hold,. In 1998, longtime fans were delighted when he returned to the ballad style that made him famous on a David Arnold song called "Only Myself To Blame", which was included in the James Bond blockbuster The World Is Not Enough. That same year he composed and produced the music for the Leos Carax film Pola X, which was later released as an album. He wrote and produced two songs for German singer/actress Ute Lemper's 1999 album "Punishing Kisses". 2000 saw him organize the London South Bank Centre's summer music festival, Meltdown, and although he did not perform himself, he did write the music for The Richard Alston Dance Project item Thimblerigging. He served as a producer for an album called "We Love Life" in 2001 for the UK band Pulp. For that effort, he received an award from Q magazine in October, 2003. The release of a retrospective box set, "5 Easy Pieces", consisting of five discs that spanned his work with The Walker Brothers, his solo career, and songs he wrote for Ute Lemper, followed in 2005. On May 8th, 2006, Scott released the CD "The Drift", which was well received by fans and critics alike. Later that year he was honored by Mojo magazine with the MOJO Icon Award for "having enjoyed a spectacular career on a global scale." A documentary film, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man was shown on BBC1 in May, 2007. He continued to write music for other artists, including English singer/songwriter Bat for Lashes who recorded a song called "The Big Sleep" for her 2009 CD "Two Suns". He also found the time to score the production of the play Duet For One, which was staged in the Linbury Studio in June 2011. In 2015 Scott composed the score for the historical mystery drama film, The Childhood of a Leader, which won two awards at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival.

After The Walker Brothers split for the final time, Gary Walker retreated from public life. He opened a business making model castles made from sand and his own secret blend. The company eventually expanded to include the hands of babies, children and newly-weds.

John and Gary Walker reunited for the first time in twenty-seven years at the White Rock Hotel in Hastings, UK on July 16th, 2005, where they performed two of their old numbers, "Twinkle" and "Dizzie Miss Lizzy". Gary returned to the White Rock Hotel in December of that year to join Chris Black & Blackcat for an extended set. In March, 2006, Universal Music celebrated the 40th anniversary of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" by re-issuing a a four track CD single and a commemorative limited edition vinyl single. That was followed by the five CD box set, "Everything Under The Sun" that July.

For more, be sure to read Gary James interview with Gary Walker.