Billy Joe Walker Jr. is one of the most prolific talents in Nashville. Indeed, it would be easier to list the people Walker hasn’t produced or played with than to try and chronicle all those who have benefited from his expertise.
Walker discovered Bryan White and produced his first three albums, which spawned several No 1's. He produced Pam Tillis’ Greatest Hits, featuring the No. 1 single “All the Good Ones Are Gone,” as well as her Every Time CD. And he produced Travis Tritt’s platinum album Down the Road I Go—garnering a No. 1 with “Best of Intentions,” along with four top-5 singles—as well as his follow-up project, Strong Enough.
Walker has also spearheaded chart toppers for Tracy Byrd; hit singles for Mark Chesnutt and Collin Raye; and albums for Tammy Cochran, Brad Martin and others. He produced Billy Ray Cyrus’ gospel release, The Other Side, which was nominated for a Dove award. Billy Joe's most recent cut is the bonus track "Chill" on Blake Shelton's upcoming CD, "Red River."
He stays inspired by continuing to create records, saying simply, “I love doing it.” Walker is currently producing a forthcoming album by Byrd and working with new artist Shelley Skidmore.
As a writer, Walker has had over 100 songs recorded, including Eddie Rabbit’s No. 1 “I Wanna Dance with You” and No. 3 “B-B-B Burning Up with Love.” His catalog includes songs by Jerrod Neimann, Billy Currington, Trisha Yearwood, John Anderson, Van Zant, and Tanya Tucker.
Walker is also a renowned smooth jazz guitarist, having recorded seven instrumental albums for Geffen, MCA and Liberty Records, achieving two adult contemporary No. 1s and several top 10s.
Born and raised in West Texas, Walker taught himself to play guitar and read music at an early age. He left home at 14, honing his chops in lounge bands and country joints in Oklahoma City before moving to Los Angeles. There he worked as a session player for artists such as Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard and the Beach Boys, as well as for Beatles producer George Martin. He also performed on TV and movie soundtracks featuring Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.
At the urging of legendary producer Jimmy Bowen, Walker moved to Nashville and began playing on the albums of country artists including Ray Charles, Hank Williams Jr., Randy Travis and the Dixie Chicks. After contributing his skills to literally hundreds of sessions, Walker recorded his own albums, which naturally led to producing.
With more than three decades in the music business, Walker has witnessed many changes in the industry, but continues to prefer a traditional approach to making records. “Tracks are still cut live in Nashville and that’s a major plus,” he says. “I love recording with faces in a room, instead of stacking tracks, one guy at a time. I want to know what the music’s going to sound like before I leave the studio.”