Ernest Clayton Walker Jr. was born in Beaumont, Texas, to Ernest and Danna Walker on August 19, 1969. Walker, the oldest of five children, grew up in Vidor with his father, who gave him his first guitar at the age of nine.
Walker started competing in talent shows when he was fifteen years old. He stopped by a local radio station after finishing his duty as an overnight desk clerk at a Super 8 Motel to present a cassette of a song he had composed. Despite the fact that the station’s standards forbade self-submitted cassettes from being broadcast, the morning disc DJ played Walker’s song and claimed it was “too wonderful to pass up.”
Walker started working at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company facility after graduating from Vidor High School in 1986. He started traveling as a musician at the age of nineteen, performing at several local bars and finally landing a job as the house vocalist at the Neon Armadillo in Beaumont. James Stroud, a record producer and the head of Warner Music Group subsidiary Giant Records, found him in November 1992. Late in the year, Walker joined with Giant.
Walker’s self-titled first album was produced by Stroud and released in 1993. “What’s It to You,” written by Robert Ellis Orrall and Curtis Wright, was the album’s first single, charting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts and No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s follow-up, “Live Until I Die,” was released late in the year and earned Walker’s second straight No. 1 in early 1994. The number 11 single “Where Do I Fit in the Picture,” which was originally the B-side of “What’s It to You,” followed those two hits. “Dreaming with My Eyes Open,” a song that was also used on the soundtrack of the 1994 film The Thing Called Love, was the album’s third No. 1 success. “White Palace,” a bonus track from the album, reached at number 67 on the country charts despite not being issued as a single.
The Recording Industry Association of America awarded Clay Walker platinum status for sales of one million copies. It reached number 8 on the Billboard 200, number 2 on the Top Country Albums chart, and number 8 on the Top Heatseekers chart.
Allmusic’s Larry Powell awarded the album a four-and-a-half star rating, describing Walker’s vocals as “high-energy” and reminiscent of Conway Twitty. Walker was also nominated for two awards in 1994: the TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow award and the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist award.
Career in music
Walker’s self-titled first album was produced by Stroud and released in 1993. “What’s It to You,” written by Robert Ellis Orrall and Curtis Wright, was the band’s debut single, and it charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts and No. 73 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s follow-up, “Live Until I Die,” was released late in the year and earned Walker’s second straight No. 1 in early 1994. The number 11 single “Where Do I Fit in the Picture,” which was originally the B-side of “What’s It to You,” followed those two hits. “Dreaming with My Eyes Open,” a song that was also used on the soundtrack of the 1994 film The Thing Called Love, was the album’s third No. 1 success. “White Palace,” a bonus track from the album, reached at number 67 on the country charts despite not being issued as a single.
The Recording Industry Association of America awarded Clay Walker platinum status for sales of one million copies. It reached number 8 on the Billboard 200, number 2 on the Top Country Albums chart, and number 8 on the Top Heatseekers chart. Allmusic’s Larry Powell awarded the album a four-and-a-half star rating, describing Walker’s vocals as “high-energy” and reminiscent of Conway Twitty. Walker was also nominated for two awards in 1994: the TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow award and the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist award.
If I Could Make a Living and Hypnotize the Moon (1994–1996)
Walker’s second album, If I Could Make a Living, was released in 1994. The title tune (co-written by Alan Jackson, Keith Stegall, and Roger Murrah) and 1995’s “This Woman and This Man” were both No. 1 singles. The latter song lasted two weeks at the top of the charts, making it his first multi-week success.
The number 16 song, “My Heart Will Never Know,” followed. In May 1995, If I Could Make a Living was certified platinum, reaching number two on the country albums list. “Walker has broken free from Nashville’s most recent generation of perfectly manufactured cowboys,” according to Gordon Ely of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In 1995, Walker started touring as a headliner in the promotion of the record.
Walker released Hypnotize the Moon, his third studio album, in late 1995. Hypnotize the Moon had two consecutive number two successes with “Who Needs You Baby” (which Walker co-wrote) and the title track, followed by the number 5 “Only on Days That End in ‘Y'” and the number 18 “Bury the Shovel,” despite none of its songs reaching the top 40. In 1996, Hypnotize the Moon was certified platinum, making it Walker’s third platinum album in a row.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine awarded this album a four-star rating, stating that it was his “most confident, unified record to date” and that he provided a “consistently great performance.” Walker did not have a unique musical identity, according to Entertainment Weekly’s Alanna Nash, but the song selection was solid, earning a B+. Country Standard Time’s Richard McVey II described it as a “throwback” in sound to Walker’s first, while USA Today claimed it lacked the “verve” of that album.
Walker was playing basketball with a buddy in 1996, having just finished the recordings for his fourth album, when he started to feel numbness, facial spasms, and double vision. He had multiple sclerosis, according to magnetic resonance imaging (MS). Walker then started modifying his diet and treating his MS with a daily injection of Copaxone, which put his MS into remission.
In early 1996, Nu Millennia Media published Self Portrait, an interactive CD-ROM that comprised five of Walker’s songs as well as 30 minutes of video footage. He subsequently released Rumor Has It, his fourth album, in 1997, which he co-produced with Stroud. Its first single, the title tune, went on to become his sixth and final No. 1 hit of the year.  Other songs from the album included the number 18 smash “One, Two, I Love You,” as well as the number 4 and 2 hits “Watch This” and “Then What?” The latter also charted at number 65, marking his first appearance on the Hot 100 since “What’s It to You.
Rumor Has It was certified platinum, much like his previous three studio albums. Outside of “I Need a Margarita,” Larry Stephens of Country Standard Time gave this album a mainly unfavorable review, calling the tracks “cookie-cutter.” Allmusic’s Thom Owens agreed that it was predictable, but praised Walker’s ability to “make even terrible material sound terrific,” giving it three stars out of five.
With a live performance of Earl Thomas Conley’s 1983 hit “Holding Her and Loving You,” Walker peaked in April 1998. This version was on the charts for nine weeks, peaking at number 68. He released his sixteenth single, “Ordinary People,” a month later.
It was one of two new songs on his Greatest Hits album, which peaked at number 35. The other new song, “You’re Beginning to Get to Me,” debuted in August 1998 and peaked at number 2 on the country chart and number 39 on the Hot 100 in January 1999, the same month that Greatest Hits was certified gold. Walker also played a sold-out event at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1998.
Walker’s 1999 album Live, Laugh, Love was produced by Doug Johnson, who replaced Stroud as president of Giant Records. In terms of production and promotion, Connie Baer, the label’s senior director of marketing, stated that she wanted to raise Walker’s profile as an artist because she and Johnson believed he didn’t have the same level of recognition as other artists with similar albums sales and chart success.
The number 16 country and number 74 mainstream smash “She’s Always Right,” co-written by Lonestar’s lead vocalist Richie McDonald, was the album’s first single. Following this, the title tune charted at number 11 in the country and number 65 in pop. The album’s third and most popular song, “The Chain of Love,” was written by Rory Lee Feek and Jonnie Barnett and reached number three in the country and number 40 on the Hot 100.
It and the fourth song, “Once in a Lifetime Love,” both charted as a result of unintentional playing when “Live, Laugh, Love” was ascending the charts. When it was released, “Once in a Lifetime Love” became his lowest-charting song, peaking at number 50. A studio version of the Earl Thomas Conley cover was also included on the album.
On Allmusic, Erlewine scored the album three stars, saying that it “never truly separates itself from its predecessors,” but that it “has its moments.” Country Standard Time’s Brian Wahlert agreed that the album was uneven, noting that the greatest songs were “She’s Always Right,” “The Chain of Love,” and the Conley cover, but that the remainder “treads no new ground.” Billboard’s Deborah Evans Price was more complimentary, noting that it captured the excitement of his live performances and that he “let free” with soul singing on “This Time Love.”
Walker contributed two songs to Giant’s Believe: A Christmas Collection, a multi-artist Christmas music CD published in late 2000. Both of these songs — a rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” and the original “Cowboy Christmas” — charted on the country chart, reaching number 51 and number 70, respectively.
Say No More and Christmas in 2001–02.
Walker’s twenty-third single, “Say No More,” was released for Giant in early 2001. Say No More was the first single from his sixth studio album, which was also named Say No More. “Say No More” reached number 33 on the country chart, while the album’s sole song, “If You Ever Feel Like Lovin’ Me Again,” co-written by Jerry Kilgore, reached number 27. Giant’s parent company, Warner Bros. Records Nashville, marketed the latter song after Giant dissolved in late 2001. Walker collaborated on the album alongside Byron Gallimore and Blake Mevis, as well as session guitarist Brent Mason.
A song Walker penned in high school was featured on the album, as well as a version of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba.” “The compassion on this album is so expressive that it makes you want to go straight out and embrace the one you love,” Maria Konicki Dinoia of Allmusic said in her review. Mike Clark, a reviewer for Country Standard Time, saw it as a move to a more country pop-oriented sound, calling it “full of terrible lyrics and overblown production clichés.”
Walker penned and recorded a song for the Houston Texans, an expansion club in the National Football League, in 2002. The song, titled “Football Time in Houston,” was the team’s official fight song during its first season. He told CMT that he dedicated the song to the city of Houston and that he performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the team’s home opener every season.
Despite the fact that he departed Warner Bros. for RCA Records’ Nashville branch in May 2002, Warner Bros. released Christmas, a Christmas music album, in September of the same year. In January 2003, Walker lifted a version of José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” to number 49 on the national chart.
Personal Profile Clay Walker
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Number: (615) 297-7002
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Sharon Eaves Management
Clay Walker Fan Club
2813 Azalea Pl
Nashville, TN 37204
Clay Walker address information:
Sharon Eaves Management
Clay Walker Fan Club
(Official Fan Club)
2813 Azalea Pl
Nashville, TN 37204
Phone: (615) 297-7002
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