The Surrey-area music community is mourning the passing of Harry Walker, whose R&B songs entertained audiences for more than six decades.
Walker died early Sunday (Jan. 10) at Hilton Villa retirement home in Whalley after living with dementia, heart troubles and Parkinson’s disease in recent years. He was 81.
“It was a combination of those three things,” his cousin, Gary Myers, said on Monday. “They said it wasn’t COVID.”
Walker sang at Vancouver-area music venues for many years, including the New Delhi, Hollywood Bowl, Grooveyard and Blues Palace, where he once headlined with Ike and Tina Turner. A member of the Hi-Fives band in the 1950s and ’60s, Walker later performed with Night Train Revue.
In his later years Walker frequented local jam nights and, in 2016, was a cast member in “Sonic Elder,” a Chop Theatre musical focused on aging musicians, for a run at Vancouver’s Penthouse nightclub.
On Facebook, local musician Glen Pearson said he was saddened to hear of Walker’s death.
“I’ve known Harry since I was 14 years old,” Pearson wrote. “I knew of Harry before that, as my dad and him played in local bands during the same era the late 50s to early 60s. Harry was a very strong supporter of my blues jam and he always put on a great show. My sincerest condolences to his family and all of his friends as we all loved Harry and he will be truly missed.”
William Hardie recalled meeting Walker for the first time at a jam on White Rock’s Marine Drive.
“I wrote a song about him,” Hardie said on Facebook. “A line he gave me that day when I spoke to him after he sang, I asked him, ‘Wow, you sing the blues well for a happy person.’ He said he’s ‘Too Happy to be Blue.’ Great guy, Rip Harry.”