Big Chuck’s Monday Morning Time Capsule: Oneonta’s Star Is Born! Jerry Jeff Walker, 3-16-1942!
Oneonta's biggest star was born in Fox Hospital, Oneonta, on March 16, 1942. His birth name was Ronald Clyde Crosby.
Jerry Jeff is one of America's greatest troubadours. Just before he took the name "Jerry Jeff Walker" in 1967, he was arrested for public intoxication in the French Quarter of New Orleans. There he met a street busker named "Bojangles" who danced on the sidewalks for change. The two shared a cell in the drunk tank in the NOLA jail. Jerry Jeff mined his chance meeting with the street performer into a song titled "Mr. Bojangles." The rest is history.
The song was a hit for Walker as well as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It has been recorded by over 100 performers (most notably Sammy Davis Jr.). Other hits followed and his fame grew beyond the borders of the U.S.
Jerry Jeff Walker has long been associated with the music scene in Austin, Texas where he is considered to be somewhat of a paternal figure to up and coming artists. He continues to record today. His annual birthday celebration in Austin has been called "the biggest yearly birthday party in Texas" with many great stars heading to the Hill Country to honor Walker.
He was inducted into the Oneonta High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2008. He came back that year to accept the award personally and gave a sold-out concert in the Oneonta Theatre to celebrate his honor.