Biography courtesy of Wikipedia
Brian George Walton Jr. (born October 8, 1964 in Duarte, California) is an American Country, Southern rock, and Classic rock multi-instrumentalist, writer, producer and singer. In 1991, he made his debut with the album “Made in the Shade” which included the billboard hits “Made in the Shade” and “Travelin’ Band”. Since then he has released three more albums, including the highly successful “Made in the Shade Live!” album recorded during live performances in 2001.
Brian studied music at Juilliard and has been a long time member of the Songwriters Guild of America, American Music Association and ASCAP. In the last 30 years he has written and/or produced over 400 jingles for radio and television, 5 billboard hits and produced 4 Top 100 albums. He currently lives in Challis Idaho with his wife Inge. Brian has three sons Christopher (28) and Patrick (24) from his current wife Inge and Stephan (29) from a previous marriage. Brian considers himself “genre agnostic” preferring a wide range of musical styles although country and country rock is where he has had the most success.
Brian was born in Duarte, California to Brian George Walton Senior, an automobile mechanic and Virginia Ann Walton (maiden name Hess). His parents had a troublesome marriage and even more turbulent divorce. Brian and his siblings spent most of their childhood shuttling between the east and west coast of the United States and were the subject of countless custody battles until his father’s death in 1982.
As a child, Brian tinkered with every musical instrument he could get his hands on. His father, recognizing the budding talent, enrolled him at Marshall Fundamental School in Pasadena, California which was known at time for it’s extensive music and drama program. There he immediately took to the violin and became the school’s leading soloist. In 1976 he was awarded a lifetime membership by the American Music Association after an impressive and highly publicized performance at the Rose Bowl Game (Ohio vs UCLA) halftime concert.
Shortly afterwards Brian’s mother won custody of he and his siblings and they spent the next year traipsing across the US eventually ending up in Buffalo NY in 1977. In 1978 Brian became a ward of the State and spent the next years in orphanages, group homes and halfway houses.
In 1981 Brian was emancipated and moved to New York City where he successfully auditioned at Juilliard. In order to pay for his studies, Brian played 7 days a week at piano bars and coffee houses in the area. During that time he was eventually discovered by A & R Recording executives and was offered a staff writer/musician position in Nashville TN. He later moved to Austin TX and began writing jingles for, among many others, Baskin Robbins, American Airlines and Maybelline.
The work was sparse and the money even worse, so eventually Brian eventually went back to New York and joined National Guard in 1982, but that wasn’t much better, so in 1983 he joined the regular Army. While stationed in Fort Bragg attached to the 82nd Airborne Unit he took part in Operation Urgent Fury where he spent 3 months. Brian served one and a half tours in the U.S. Army at duty stations in South Korea, Japan and finally Germany where he was discharged honorably.
1988 to 2000
After the military, Brian was offered a lucrative position at a budding Robotics company in Germany by a musician friend which, strangely enough, became the starting point for his professional music career. Now able to fully provide for his young family, Brian began playing the United Services Organization (USO) club circuit part time with his Band “Bakersfield” backing artists like: Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, The Bellamy Brothers, John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Dwight Yoakam and Vince Gill. It was during this time that he met Johnny Paycheck Bass Player Ron Sweet (died in 2005) who introduced Brian to David Allen Coe, Alison Krauss, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. He also began writing, penning the first drafts for “Made in the Shade” in 1988 and “Travelin’ Band” in 1990.
When the US military began downsizing bases in Germany in the mid 1990’s, USO gigs became scarce so Brian set his sights on country music venues in Germany. He and his band quickly became popular at Trucker Festivals and large concert venues throughout Europe. With new venues came new friends and mentors. Christine Leon, Keith Headley (keyboardist for Roy Orbison), Peter Faas, Dave Bell and Kevin Henderson all helped Brian along and it was during this time that he met future “Made in the Shade” album producer Mickey Lee Jones.
Recorded in 1991 at Tonstudio Pauly in Giessen, Germany, Brian admits that producing the album “Made in the Shade” was the most scariest and daunting task he’d ever undertaken. Brian, no stranger to studio work, didn’t consider himself much of a singer and recounts an incident in which Mickey kept him awake into the wee hours of the morning just to get the right amount of “scratchiness” to his voice to lay the vocal track for “Think about it Woman”. Most of the tracks were merely concepts at the start of production, so much of the creative work was done by Brian and Mickey in the studio.
Album credits Made in the Shade (1991): Brian Walton – Rhythm/Lead Guitars, Lead Vocals, Additional Backing Vocals Udo Guckelsberger – Drums, Percussion, Additional Backing Vocals Rob Hawkins – Additional Backing Vocals Judy White – Additional Backing Vocals Cathy Kimble - Additional Backing Vocals Mickey Lee Jones – Bass Guitar, Rhythm/Lead/Slide Guitars, Piano/Keyboards, Backing Vocals Lyrics and music written and composed by Brian Walton Studio Album Arrangements: Mickey Lee Jones Orchestration, Arrangement and Composition "Think about it Woman" – Reprise: Mickey Lee Jones Sound Engineer: Mickey Lee Jones Sound Assistant: Hilmar Pauly Producer: Mickey Lee Jones Co-Producer: Hilmar Pauly Pre/Post/Final Mastering: Mickey Lee Jones Master Editors: Hilmar Pauly, Mickey Lee Jones
The album was signed to the now-defunct Giessener Rundfunk label, later picked up by Sony Music and produced two Top 5 billboard chart hit singles “Made in the Shade” and “Travelin’ Band”.
Brian continued to perform and produce music earning several awards for his performances and helping to produce albums under the tutelage of Thomas Schmitt-Zijnen (Moody Blues, Saga, Barclay James Harvest), Tommy Korge and Dave Bell (Michael Sadler, Saga).
2000 and later
Brian returned to the US in 2000, looked up old contacts and immediately began writing again. Together with retired Sony executive George Papadopoulos he founded Blue Rhino Records in 2001 and organized a Live tour with old friends and session musicians Ron Sweet, Mark Jeffries and Tom Martin the recordings of which resulted in the album “Made in the Shade Live!”. 5 tracks off of the album: “Made in the Shade”, “Life on the Farm”, “Travelin’ Band”, “Cause you’re the One” and “Practical Man” rocketed up the charts and got loads of national airplay reinvigorating Brian’s solo career.
Work on Brian’s 4th album “Kickin’ it” ground to a halt after the artist suffered a stroke, multiple heart attacks and extensive peripheral nerve damage due to the onset of diabetes. He was diagnosed with in 2011 and Rehabilitation took years. By the time Brian returned to writing and performing in 2014 he decided to can the entire project. Instead he took the finished tracks and pitched them to The Country Music Channel and The Discovery Channel as well as A & R Recording, the most successful of which “I Love My Truck” has since been featured in 4 television documentaries and 2 hollywood films.
The album “What the …” will be released on August 6th 2015 on the Blue Rhino Label and will be distributed by Sony Music. The album is a compilation of single tracks Brian has released since 2002 including never released tracks from the “Kickin’ it” project and two new tracks “That Girl knows how to wear them Blues” and “Fly”. Most of the individual tracks are already available on u.a. iTunes and Amazon and the CD will hit record stores sometime in September 2015.
Both Brian and his wife Inge are active American Legion Riders, card-carrying members of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and work extensively with the Wounded Warrior project. Brian also served as Vice-Commander of the American Legion Post 254 in North Port Florida before moving to Idaho for health reasons. He is also very active with the American Diabetes Association providing education and mentoring to those recently diagnosed with the disease.
Awards and honors
Brian became one of the youngest lifetime inductees into the American Music Association (later the Songwriters Guild of America). He also received awards for being the most versatile musician in 1991 by the Country Music Association, musician of the year in 1991/1993 by the GCMA and special award as honorary musician of the Schleusinger Country Festival.