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Sunday, October 16, 2005

L.C. Walker - Gone Too Soon

He was only 53 years old - 53, for God's sake. In a blink, he was gone, felled by a massive coronary. Yes, he was not buff - built for comfort, not for speed, to quote Willie Dixon. But he was not out of control, he was a pretty clean guy for a bluesman - no terrible habits. Lawrence Cornell Walker was a huge personality, a deep soul and blues singer, an entertainer that ranked with the best ever produced here in Chicago. He was a mentor to many musicians in this town. And he was always up for a gig - money didn't matter, the size of the crowd didn't matter, all that mattered was the music and the passion.

L.C. was the front man for two blue-collar blues bands in Chicago - Two for the Blues and Trouble No More. He also performed with a myriad of other R&B and blues groups in Chicago. L.C. Walker had a smile for friends and strangers alike. He had many interests beyond music. He was a hot bowler, a strong chess player, a self-taught computer geek, and a devoted parent. He became a parent via marriage - five stepsons, I believe. He worked for 16 years for the U.S. Postal Service, and walked away to build a life free of a bureaucratic master.

I am writing as if L.C. was one of my best friends. I learned most of this at his memorial service. He was a blues buddy, but I didn't know him that well. I keep a list of people that I want to know better; L.C. Walker was at the top of the list. I thought I had plenty of time to act on my intent. L.C. fell, and I am left with regrets and a lesson - if you intend to do something, ACT NOW!

L.C. Walker's memorial service was packed last Friday. It was an amazing to see how many lives this man touched - black and white, young and old, male and female. The Chicago blues community was out in force, but so were L.C.'s bowling partners, his neighbors, his extended family. After the service, a bunch of the mourners headed to a bowling alley in Blue Island to roll some games in honor of the deceased. L.C. Walker was booked at Bill's Blues in Evanston that Friday night with Two for the Blues. L.C.'s partner, guitarist Tom Crivellone, bravely went on with the show. Toronzo Cannon sat in - he was tight with L.C. Walker, and he is another bluesman with a "regular guy" job (L.C. worked for the post office, Toronzo drives a bus for the Chicago Transit Authority). The club was jammed; emotions ran hot and high; I drank too much and that was the right thing to do.

L.C. Walker didn't make much money singing the blues. He could care less about that. His goal was to make as much music as possible, to generate as much joy as possible, to convert strangers into friends.

Good bye, L.C. Maybe we can spend time together on the other side.

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