SAN MARCOS, TX – Legendary Texas music artist Jerry Jeff Walker has donated his archive to The Wittliff Collections. Walker’s archive is a major acquisition for the newly-formed Texas Music Collection, and comprises more than 100 boxes of materials spanning Walker’s entire career, featuring master tapes, photographs, hand-written lyrics and artifacts.
Throughout his career, Walker has traveled the world with songs that paint a picture as vivid as any artist and tell stories as well as any novelist. He emerged from New York City’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the late ‘60s where he was a founding member of the band Circus Maximus. The band recorded two albums before splitting up. Soon after, Walker recorded his first solo album, the seminal album “Mr. Bojangles.” The album and song solidified Jerry Jeff a rising star.
With his stock on the rise, Walker re-located to Austin in the early ‘70s with the likes of Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm and Asleep at the Wheel. He immediately became a key figure in Austin, and his historic 1972 album “Viva Terlingua!” helped establish the Austin music movement.
After a string of records for MCA and Electra in the ‘70s, Walker formed his own record label, Tried & True Music, in 1986. This gave him the creative freedom to record more personal and revealing albums. It also allowed him the opportunity to give back. In 1999, he and his wife Susan established the Jerry Jeff Walker Tried & True Foundation, whose mission was to support education in popular music. Over time the foundation has grown to include scholarships for promising young musicians as well as to fund musician support organizations such as the SIMS Foundation and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. The Tried & True Foundation continues its mission to this day.
Throughout his more than 40-year career, Jerry Jeff Walker has played for U.S. presidents, celebrated the music of peers such as Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and inspired a generation of musical artists.
Walker has supported The Wittliff Collections from their inception, having donated song lyrics and custom boots as well as performing his music at The Wittliff’s dedication ceremony in 1991. He has also played at each of The Wittliff’s major fundraising events, including last year’s “Lonesome Dove” Reunion in Fort Worth.
“Jerry Jeff has been a dear friend to the Collections from its birth in 1986,” said Bill Wittliff, who with his wife Sally founded The Wittliff Collections. “Now his gift is the founding archive of our new collection to preserve and highlight singers and songwriters of Texas. I cannot imagine trying to build a Texas Music Collection without Jerry Jeff.”
The Jerry Jeff Walker archive at The Wittliff will provide a valuable resource to students of music and culture from all backgrounds, and it will historically preserve a piece of our culture to be enjoyed, studied and interpreted for decades to come. Select items are on display now in The Wittliff, and a major exhibition is planned for the Spring of 2018.