The British Walkers

The British WalkersFrom: Washington D.C., MD, USA

The British Walkers weren’t actually British. They were an American band whose sound was influenced by The Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Kinks. Forming in 1964, The British Walkers lasted only four years, breaking up in 1968. The band’s debut single was “I Found You,” released on Try Records. The song was written by Bobby Howard (vocals, harmonica, keyboard) and Roy Buchanan (lead guitar). Roy had actually started writing the song years before as a love song to his wife. The B-side was a remake of the Bo Diddley classic “Diddley Daddy.”

Buchanan would go on to become a Washington D.C. area legend, greatly renowned for his blues guitar prowess. It is believed that he was asked to replace Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones. Buchanan wasn’t a member of The British Walkers for very long. There were several occasions in which he was not at a gig, and would be found at home locked up in the closet. In 1988, Roy hanged himself in his jail cell after being arrested for public intoxication – at least, that is the “official” cause for his death. Bruises to Buchanan’s head were never explained, but it has been documented that Buchanan was beaten by the local police before his arrest. In 2003, Rolling Stone declared Buchanan one of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time,” landing the #57 spot.

John Hall was another prominent member of The British Walkers. Hall joined the band briefly in 1967 towards the end of their career. Hall gained fame for co-writing the song “Half Moon” for Janis Joplin. Hall was also a guiding force behind the 1970s concert No Nukes, and later was the leader of the highly successful group Orleans. He also had an extended solo career. In 2006, Hall was elected Congressman for New York’s 19th district and assumed office in early 2007.

Frontman and band leader, Bobby Howard, was unhappy to find out that band representatives Bobby Poe and Mitch Corday had trademarked the name The British Walkers. This meant that, if Howard left the band, the name would go on. Howard did decide to quit the band in 1967 and the name did continue, with John Hall and other going in and out of the lineup. Corday even went to England to recruit actual British members for the band, including Geoff Richardson (guitar) of The Attack, but it was far from the same and everyone knew the band’s days were numbered.

In 1966, Howard recorded a “solo” single. It was recorded with the current lineup for The British Walkers, but released as a Howard song. The single eventually attained cult status in the UK and is seen as a collectors item. The band recorded the single “Sh’ Mon” under the moniker Mr. Dynamite. “Sh’ Mon” was a song that could very easily be mistaken for a Soul music workout by James Brown. The late Charlie Hampton arranged the song, and the horns on the track have is signature sound. The single was released by Sue Records in the UK and is considered a collectors item, selling for a substantial amount. In America, “Sh’ Mon” was the only release on Soultime Records, a label Poe started for the occasion.

The British Walkers recorded a number of singles over their brief existence. The only one that charted was “Shake” / “That Was Yesterday.” Initially, “Shake” had been written and recorded by Sam Cooke. This version featured Tom and Charlie Willett on vocals. Howard’s vocals had been removed from the single when he quit the band during an argument with management. The B-side, “That Was Yesterday,” was written by Frank Dillon and Vernon Sandusky of The Chartbusters. The Chartbusters were actually the backing band on the “Shake” single, and by this time, The British Walkers were a band in name only, primarily existing to fulfill concert commitments.

“Shake” was released on the Cameo Parkway label and landed on the national charts. The British Walkers Shoe Company was going to offer the band a substantial amount of money if the single entered the Billboard Top 10. However, two things happened, preventing this from happening. Otis Redding released a great version of “Shake” and the new owner of Cameo Parkway pulled the plug on the entire label, thus costing the band the shoe deal. The new owner was Allen Klein and when he purchased the label, there was talk that The Rolling Stones would record for Cameo Parkway, driving the stock price way up. In 1969, the label was resurrected in 1969 as ABKCO Records, but none of the previous roster was brought back.

Artist Info: thebritishwalkers.blogspot.com

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1967 single “Shake”
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  • Shake