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The Walker Brothers

Biography

A hugely popular act in mid-1960s England, the Walker Brothers eked out two well-remembered hits in America -- this in spite of the fact that the trio hailed from the U.S. (Famously, they predated the Ramones' conceit of being brothers by a decade. Like the Ramones, none of the Walkers was born with their nom du stage.) Their influence, however, remains considerable, and Scott Walker's solo work is revered by subsequent generations of avant-pop fans.

The story goes that Walker (ne Engel), John Maus and Gary Leeds formed their act in California and deliberately aimed for British success. It was a reversal of the then-normal way of doing things -- although Jimi Hendrix would follow a similar trajectory not long after -- and it worked. Hysteria soon accompanied the Walkers' every move, and fan magazines were packed with their stories and pictures.

The Walker Brothers' style was nearly pre-Beatles pop, with more than a hint of cabaret in Scott's lead vocals. The act dealt in classically memorable songs, quickly hitting with a version of soul man Jerry Butler's Bacharach-David-penned hit "Make It Easy on Yourself" in 1965. They followed it with measured, dramatic takes on "My Ship Is Coming In" (originally recorded by "Monkey Time" star Major Lance) and an obscure Frankie Valli cut, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," a few months later, proving their mastery of the style.

Inter-group disagreements and ebbing commercial fortunes led to the Walkers' split in 1967. Scott's TV appearances and ornate solo albums kept him in the limelight for a few years; a U.S. compilation of his post-breakup recordings, It's Raining Again, appeared in 1996. The electronic-pop outfit Scott 4 took its name from one of Walker's legendary discs, while Julian Cope has often spoken of the man's "godlike genius." Gary Leeds also continued with a new band, the Rain. The Walker Brothers reunited a decade after their first triumphs, making one last mark on the British Top 10 with a cover of Tom Rush's "No Regrets."
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