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  1. #1
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    Junior Walker and the Funk Bros.

    When Junior Walker recorded his saxophone breaks, did he do that instrument part when the Funk Bros. recorded their parts? Or did Junior do the sax playing at the same time he did the vocals? What did the Funk Bros. think of Junior's sax playing? Why didn't he do any sax breaks on other Motown artist's records? I read somewhere that Berry Gordy told people to leave him alone. I was thinking about this as I was listening to "Come See About Me" by Junior and the All Stars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stingbeelee View Post
    When Junior Walker recorded his saxophone breaks, did he do that instrument part when the Funk Bros. recorded their parts? Or did Junior do the sax playing at the same time he did the vocals? What did the Funk Bros. think of Junior's sax playing? Why didn't he do any sax breaks on other Motown artist's records? I read somewhere that Berry Gordy told people to leave him alone. I was thinking about this as I was listening to "Come See About Me" by Junior and the All Stars.
    I'm afraid that I don't know the answers, but after your brilliant post I certainly want to know.

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    There are some live performances by Jr Walker and the All Stars on YouTube recorded in France and the UK. These guys were just brilliant and Walker could really play live, along with his band. I seem to remember reading somewhere that JW recorded with his own band but really I have no idea. If you watch the YouTube stuff, the drummer is pretty special.

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    OK - it's 1967 at the Ram Jam Club in Brixton, London - for some reason made it's way onto Frech TV. There's a few different clips, all well worth watching. Those guys could play, sing, dance and move.

  5. #5
    So, I'm going to put a few things out there for consideration until someone else who probably REALLY knows responds. Over the years of discovering Motown, I've had some of the same questions about how they recorded Junior. I have to believe Junior would have recorded his sax parts after the Funk Brothers recorded the basic tracks. I say that because on the whole, usually you'd record your basic rhythm track first, then the horns [[and strings if you wanted 'em) would be recorded at separate sessions. This would provide for better separation between instruments, give you a cleaner sound and also give the producers more flexibility to the get the mix they wanted. So, I would think Junior would have done his sax at a different dub-in session as well.

    Also, consider, the Motown acts were constantly touring and it was hard getting them into the studio, so it would be extremely difficult trying to schedule recording sessions when Junior was available. The Motown Way was to have the music recorded and ready for whenever the artist could come in and record.

    Another thing I've considered is that Junior's sax parts always sound perfectly balanced and at even level, sound-wise. I'm thinking if he tried to sing and then play that sax solo, maybe you'd hear a slight drop in the sound of his vocals as Junior maneuvered from singing to playing the sax. Just a thought.

    As far as Berry's saying "leave him alone" do you remember the context, what was going on when he said that? I think I remember reading that too, and I believe it had to do with discussions about Junior going through Motown's Artist Development department. Honestly, who would even think of "sprucing up' and refining Junior's performing style. Berry liked Junior's rough and ready sound and probably didn't want to tamper with it. Junior was one of the few artists at image-conscious Motown who was allowed to just be himself.

    Your question opens up so many other questions because keep in mind too, some of Junior's albums featured cuts with the Funk Brothers as well as with the actual All Stars. Things he did with the All Stars may have been done all at the same time, no over dubs. After awhile, you get to where you can tell me when it's the Funk Brothers and when it's the All Stars.

    Hopefully someone will know more about how they recorded Junior.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 09-14-2022 at 04:52 PM.

  6. #6
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    May not help much but this is from Classic Bands

    Junior Walker

    Junior Walker was born Autry DeWalt Jr. in Blytheville, Arkansas on June 14th, 1931. Some accounts list his birth name as Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr., and say his name was changed at some point during his early childhood. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana where he became a proficient saxophone player, studying the methods of some of the prominent sax players of the time. During his teens, DeWalt joined a group called The Jumping Jacks and began to perform in local clubs, calling himself Junior Walker.
    During the mid-1950s, Junior's long-time friend, drummer Billy Nicks, asked him to join his band, The Rhythm Rockers, who had just landed a steady gig at a local TV station in South Bend, Indiana. The group also included Fred Patton on keyboards, and Willie Woods on guitar and vocals. After Nicks was drafted into the United States Army, Walker persuaded the others to relocate from South Bend to Battle Creek, Michigan. While performing in Benton Harbor, the ensemble found drummer Tony Washington to replace Nicks, and Victor Thomas eventually took over for Fred Patton. The band took up a residency in Battle Creek's El Grotto club. It was at the El Grotto that they were noticed by Johnny Bristol, who recommended them to Harvey Fuqua, formerly of Harvey And The Moonglows. By this time, Fuqua was running his own fledgling record label called Harvey. Fuqua liked what he heard and signed the band, who then changed their name to Junior Walker's All Stars in 1962.

    The Harvey label was soon bought out by Motown and the group found itself recording with Soul Records, changing their name again to Junior Walker And The All Stars. Around this time, drummer Tony Washington left and was replaced by James Graves. Soul was a subsidiary of Motown and all of the group's subsequent recordings in the U.S. were released on the Soul label, although they had some Tamla/Motown hits on the charts in the U.K. In March, 1965, the band scored their first big hit with a dance tune that Walker had written called "Shotgun", which marked Junior's vocal debut. In fact, the only reason he sang the song was that the vocalist he'd hired didn't show up for the session, and he was somewhat flabbergasted by the label's decision to leave his vocal intact. Berry Gordy's instincts proved right, when "Shotgun" topped the R&B charts and hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two more efforts also cracked the chart in '65, "Do The Boomerang" [[#36) and "Shake And Fingerpop" [[#29).

    In 1966, James Graves left and was replaced by Walker's old friend Billy Nicks. The hits continued with tunes like "I'm a Road Runner" [[#20 Pop), "How Sweet Is Is [[To Be Loved By You) [[#18), "Pucker Up Buttercup" [[#31 Pop), "Come See About Me" [[#24 Pop) and "Hip City - Pt 2" [[#31 Pop). Toward the end of the '60s, seeking to diversify their approach, the All-Stars began recording more ballad material, complete with string arrangements and Walker vocals. That approach resulted in the group's second Hot 100, Top 5 hit, the R&B number one "What Does It Take [[To Win Your Love)" which helped refuel Walker's career in 1969. He landed several more R&B Top Ten hits over the next few years, including a cover of The Guess Who's "These Eyes", which went to #16 on the Pop chart, also in '69. Musical tastes changed in the '70s and the final Top 40 hits for Junior Walker And The All Stars were "Gotta Hold On To This Feeling" [[#21 Pop) and "Do You See My Love [[For You Growing)" [[#32 Pop) in 1970.

    Walker resurfaced as a solo artist during the Disco era, working with producer Brian Holland beginning in 1976 with the single "Hot Shot". A pair of albums followed. In 1979, Walker joined up with another former Motown mainstay, signing with producer Norman Whitfield's Whitfield label, though without much success. Walker returned to the spotlight in 1981 with a guest solo on Foreigner's Top Five hit "Urgent". Two years later, he re-signed with Motown and recorded "Blow the House Down". His melodic style was now being absorbed into a new generation of R&B-flavored Jazz instrumentalists.

    Junior continued to perform in the '80s and '90s, often with his son Autry DeWalt III on drums. Sadly, Junior Walker developed cancer in 1993 and as his health deteriorated, he had difficulty walking. He died on November 23, 1995 in Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 64. In the wake of his death, Billy Nicks continued to tour with a version of The All-Stars. Drummer James Graves was killed in a car accident in 1967, and guitarist Willie Woods passed away in 1997 at the age of 60. Victor Thomas died November 28th, 2010 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

    Junior Walker's classic hit "Shotgun" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002 and the entire group was inducted into the Michigan Rock And Roll Legends online Hall of Fame in 2007. "Shotgun" was voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2010.

  7. #7
    Saw Junior Walker & the All Stars live in Manchester around 1970, give or take a year, [[sadly the only Motown act I ever got to see) and can confirm he could very easily sing and play sax on the same song, sometimes playing sax lying on his back. His son was also playing drums back then [[he had 2 drummers playing together, can't remember who the other one was).

  8. #8
    On some tracks you can also hear Mike Terry's sax in the background. Would this make it necessary or not for Junior to play alongside The Funk Brothers?

  9. #9
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    Berry Gordy has said that Shotgun was recorded with Jr's band. But the finished track just didn't have the punch Gordy wanted so the Funk Bros were brought in. They also backed Jr on several of the followups like Shake and Fingerpop and Road Runner.

    As far as Jr backing others, it was tough getting him into the studio because he lived in the country and didn't believe in telephones. The company always had to dispatch a car or send a wire to set up session time so I guess it was just too complicated to get him there for other artists.

    Remember too, Jr was ten to twelve yrs older than the other Motown artists and didn't "hang" with them.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed H View Post
    OK - it's 1967 at the Ram Jam Club in Brixton, London - for some reason made it's way onto Frech TV. There's a few different clips, all well worth watching. Those guys could play, sing, dance and move.
    I presume that this show was staged on Monday October 23rd, 1967 -- see attached ad. I had been to see Junior & the Allstars ' the Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester a few days earlier -- Saturday 14th October. My experience that night is documented in Chapter 6 of the book THE IN CROWD -- THE STORY OF THE NORTHERN & RARE SOUL SCENE.
    Name:  JnrWalkerUKLndnOct67.jpg
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    Last edited by jsmith; 09-16-2022 at 04:31 AM.

  11. #11
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    The above book is still for sale on Amazon [[& no doubt other US sites too) ...
    https://www.amazon.com/Crowd-Story-N...p%2C166&sr=1-1

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    Another UK show undertaken by the group on that tour ...
    The Saville Theatre, London was run by Brian Epstein at the time -- NEMS.
    Name:  SavilleThAd.jpg
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    Last edited by jsmith; 09-16-2022 at 10:55 AM.

  13. #13
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    Stevie Wonder was over here doing gigs at the same time as Jnr ...
    I saw Stevie @ the Mojo, Sheffield & Jnr @ the Twisted Wheel, Manchester.
    Name:  UKgigs67StevieWJnrWalker.jpg
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    Last edited by jsmith; 09-16-2022 at 02:52 PM.

  14. #14
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    I’ve always been fascinated how speedily Junior went from blowing to singing and back, sometimes it seems he even overlaps himself tho over years of re-listening carefully I don’t think he actually does. So whenever I saw him live [[Birmingham England, London etc) I watched very carefully and HE DID switch in nanoseconds. In the same way Stevie and all those blues giants switched instantaneously to their harps. One of those musical magical phenomena. Wanted to say how it blows me away but, you know . . . .

  15. #15
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    The song "Nothing From Nothing" credited to Jr. Walker & the All Stars on Motown Unreleased digital 1967 is a demo according to DFTMC. It is not Junior singing and it does not have a sax break. Does anybody know who it is. Could it be Hank Cosby? If this has been discussed before please forgive me.

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