Randolph Walker was born in February 1944 and raised in the small community of Thomaston, in the backwoods south of Atlanta. His gruff, throaty style was obviously influenced by the likes of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, but although he lacked their vocal range, he was a very soulful and effective singer capable of bringing strong emotional effects to his lyrical interpretations.
Apart from an initial self-produced 45 as a member of the Rockin’ Deuces, he only ever recorded for the Atlanta based record man Bill Haney. His first solo release coupled “Achin’ All Over” with the excellent downbeat sound of Haney’s own You’ll Lose Your Love which was leased to Bell’s Larry Uttall who put it out as on the Mala label. Haney also used the backing track of "Achin'" for blue eyed singer Gary Allen which he leased out to Capitol.
A further one-off 45 deal with Shout coupled the pounding “I Love Her More” with another stormer “Good Ole Soul”. Walker then appeared on the main Chant logo with a despairing Haney ballad Pride And Soul, on which he gives one of his most heartfelt pleading vocals. The original “A” side was “Shindy Butterfly” whose popularity led to the 45 being leased to Shelby Singleton in Nashville who reissued it on his Black Prince subsidiary. This track now sounds rather dated, but interestingly the Chant 45 was also issued with the lively uptempo “Forty Love Street” as an alternative top side. The 45 is now an extremely rare collector’s item.
Many of these tracks were cut at Fame Studios and the usual top quality playing of the session musicians lends a superb backdrop. Walker’s final 45 was also leased away from Chant to Clarence Lawton in New York. Miss Jackson’s Daughter from 1970, with its steamy Southern story of sex and morality was right from the same mould as “Son Of A Preacher Man” or Roberta Flack’s “Reverend Lee” and could have been written by the Swamp Fox himself, Tony Joe White. But despite Walker’s Pickett-like screams, it sadly never hit the big time. The lovely deep soul flip Do Me Wrong is my personal pick of his entire catalogue. Lovely guitar fills and some subdued horns make this super song with its perfect chord changes almost an advertisement for the genre.
A few years ago it was reported that Walker was still in the music business but sadly I haven’t heard anything about him since then.
UPDATE ~ Both great friends of mine Greg Burgess and David Cole have pointed out that Randolph Walker recorded a CD in 2006 entitled 'My Love Is Powerful' on the All N All label. David describes it as a "pretty good set". I'm grateful to them as always.
As THE ROCKING DEUCES
I got you on my mind / Pack your clothes ~ ROCKING DEUCES 101 (mid 60s)
As RANDOLPH WALKER
You'll lose your love / Achin' all over ~ MALA 572 (1967)
Shindy butterfly / Pride and soul ~ CHANT 516 / BLACK PRINCE 316 (1967)
I love her more / Good ole soul ~ SHOUT 240 (1967)
Do me wrong / Miss Jackson's daughter ~ LAW-TON 1552 (1970)
My love is powerful ~ ALL N ALL (2006)
Note ~ Chant 516 was also issued with “Forty love street” as the flip to “Shindy Butterfly”.
1. The best single place to find Walker's cuts is my friend Dave Porter's UK Howzat! LP "Good Ole Soul". It contains all his released material. Several of his tracks also appeared on the two volumes of Bill Haney's music called "Atlanta Soul Brotherhood" on Ace UK. The first volume also included the previously unissued "Got My Plans Squared Away".
2. It is also known that Haney cut Walker on the backing track to "Something I Ain't Never Had" which he did issue for Jarvis Jackson.