Joe Louis Walker, was born in 1949 in San Francisco where as a young man he had access to a great number of artists of many musical genres. He roomed for a time with Mike Bloomfield, guitarist with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, who introduced him to Jimi Hen- drix, the Grateful Dead, and Muddy Waters. Soon he was opening for Waters, which led him to visit Chicago to explore the blues. But he turned away from it all and joined the Spiritual Corinthians gospel group as their guitarist. Following an appearance with them at the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and a personal conversation he had had with Willie Dixon in California, Walker became inspired to take up blues again.
He fashioned a more contemporary blues which incorporated many of his diverse musical influences, and with his band the Boss Talkers, he toured extensively before issuing Cold Is the Night (HighTone, 1986), his debut recording as a blues artist. The results garnered him a 1988 W.C. Handy award for Best Contemporary Male Artist Several of his subsequent recordings (24 albums to date) have featured collaborations with other first-tier artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, and his former band mates, the Spiritual Corinthians. Walker contributed guitar to James Cotton’s, Deep in the Blues, a Grammy Award winner for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1996. On his Great Guitars (Verve, 1997) he stood toe-to-toe with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Ike Turner, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Rush, Matt Murphy, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Taj Mahal.
In 2013, Walker was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. In addition that year, Walker was nominated in four categories for Blues Music Awards. His most recent album, Everybody Wants a Piece (2015), was a Grammy nominee.