Junior Walker / June 14, 1931 - Nov 23, 1995

While he was much more than a two-trick pony, Junior Walker nevertheless can be immediately recognizable as a distinct saxophonist for the tunes "Shotgun" by his Jr Walker & the All-Stars and his guest appearance with his iconic solo on Foreigner's "Urgent".

He got his professional start playing jazz & R&B in his hometown of South Bend, IN before moving onto to Battle Creek, MI. His group signed with Harvey Fuqua as a producer in '61, with the group now being called Junior Walker & the All-Stars, before being bought out by Motown in '64. With members of the Funk Brothers now in the fold, the group hit big in '65 with "Shotgun", a #1 R&B hit. Another lasting hit, "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)", came in '69 as DJs picked up a song originally rejected by label brass for a single.

He worked with Brian Holland during the disco years and by '79 Walker had broken up the All-Stars and signed to Norman Whitfield's label Whitfield Records, achieving minimal success, before bringing back the All-Stars in the '80s. The collaboration with Foreigner happened when someone in the studio during the recording of "Urgent" suggested they add a sax, a "Junior Walker-type guy". As fate would have it, a member of Foreigner noted that Walker was playing in a club down the block. So they went and made him an offer he couldn't refuse and the rest is history. The '80s found Walker back on Motown, appearing in Madonna flicks and guesting on Saturday Night Live.

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, Junior Walker, Motown, reeds, soul!, soul/funk, Video, vintage footage

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