Ernest Clayton (Clay) Walker, Jr. (born August 19, 1969, in Beaumont, Texas) is an American country music artist. He made his debut in 1993 with the single "What's It to You", which reached Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts, as did its follow-up, 1994's "Live Until I Die". Both singles were included on Walker's self-titled debut album, also released in 1993. Throughout the 1990s, Walker produced a constant string of hit singles on the country music charts, interrupted briefly when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1996. Walker has since participated in several forms of charity to help combat the disease.
Walker has released a total of ten albums, including a Greatest Hits package and an album of Christmas music. His first four studio albums all achieved RIAA platinum certification in the United States, while his Greatest Hits collection and fifth studio album were each certified gold. In addition, he has charted more than twenty-five singles on the country charts, including six Number One singles. His most recent album, Fall, was released in 2007 on Asylum-Curb Records.
Ernest Clayton Walker, Jr. was born on August 19, 1969 in Beaumont, Texas. After his parents divorced, Clay lived with his father, who gave him a guitar when he was nine years old. Raised in Vidor, Texas. At age sixteen, after leaving his shift as night-shift desk clerk at a Super 8 Motel, Walker stopped at a local radio station to deliver a tape of a song that he had written himself. Although the morning disc jockey told him that the station's policies prohibited playing self-submitted tapes, he nonetheless played Walker's song, announcing that the song was "too good to pass up".
After graduating from Vidor High School in 1987, Walker went on to tour the state of Texas, playing at various local clubs and eventually finding work as the house singer at a bar in Beaumont called the Neon Armadillo. There, Walker was discovered by James Stroud, a record producer who helped him receive a record deal with Giant Records, a subsidiary label of Warner Music Group which Stroud was president of at the time. Walker has been married twice, he was first married to Laurie Lampson with whom he had two daughters, MaClay Delayne and Skyler, they later got divorced. He is now married to Jessica Walker, together they have a son named William Clayton.
This section requires expansion with:
more info on each individual album; info on critical commentary, musical stylings.
Walker's debut album, the self-titled Clay Walker, was released in 1993. Its first two singles, 1993's "What's It to You" and 1994's "Live Until I Die", both reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts, followed by the #11 "Where Do I Fit in the Picture". "Dreaming with My Eyes Open", the fourth single, became Walker's third Number One. The album was also certified platinum in the United States for shipments of one million copies.
If I Could Make a Living
If I Could Make a Living was the title of Walker's second album, released in 1994. Overall, it produced two more Number One singles in the title track (co-written by Alan Jackson, Keith Stegall and Roger Murrah) and 1995's "This Woman and This Man", as well as a Top 20 hit in "My Heart Will Never Know".
Hypnotize the Moon
1995 also saw the release of Walker's third studio album, titled Hypnotize the Moon. Although none of its singles reached Number One, Hypnotize the Moon produced three consecutive Top Five hits: "Who Needs You Baby", followed by the album's title track and "Only on Days That End in "Y"". This was also the third straight platinum album of his career.
Rumor Has It
In 1996, after recording the tracks to his fourth studio album, Walker was playing basketball with a friend, when he began to experience numbness, facial spasms, and double vision. An MRI revealed multiple sclerosis. After a year of recovery, he released his fourth album, 1997's Rumor Has It. Its title track, which was the first single released, became his sixth and final Number One single that year. Other singles from the album included the Top 20 "One, Two, I Love You", and the Top 5 hits "Watch This" and "Then What?", the former of which was his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 since "What's It to You".
Walker's first greatest hits album was issued in 1998. Included on the album were two previously unreleased songs, both of which were released as singles. Of these, "Ordinary People" peaked at #35, while "You're Beginning to Get to Me" was another #2. Greatest Hits achieved a gold certification from the RIAA. Also in late 1998, Walker charted from unsolicited airplay of a cover of Earl Thomas Conley's hit "Holding Her and Loving You", which he never included on an album.
Live, Laugh, Love
1999 saw the release of Live, Laugh, Love. The album's first two singles, "She's Always Right" (co-written by Richie McDonald, then the lead singer of Lonestar) and the title track, were both Top 20 hits, while 2000's "The Chain of Love" reached a peak of #3. Although Live, Laugh, Love was also certified gold in the United States, its fourth single ("Once in a Lifetime Love") became the first single of his career to miss Top 40.
Say No More and Christmas
In 2001, Warner Music Group merged Giant Records into its Warner Bros. Records division, and Walker was then transferred to Warner Bros. Records' Nashville division. The same year, he released the album Say No More. It produced two singles in its title track and "If You Ever Feel Like Lovin' Me Again", neither of which made Top 20. After Christmas, a compilation of Christmas music released in 2002, Walker exited Warner Bros.' roster.
A year later, he wrote and recorded a song for the National Football League's newest expansion team at the time, the Houston Texans. Titled "Football Time in Houston", the song was used as the team's official fight song during their inaugural season; except for a temporary switch in the team's second season, the Texans have used "Football Time in Houston" as their fight song ever since. Walker also sings the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Texans home opener each season.
A Few Questions
By 2003, Walker signed to a second record deal on RCA Records' Nashville division. His only album for the label, 2003's A Few Questions, produced consecutive Top Ten singles in its title track and "I Can't Sleep". Walker co-wrote this song with Chely Wright, who also sang backing vocals on it. "Jesus Was a Country Boy", the third single from A Few Questions, peaked at #31 in late 2004, and Walker was dropped from RCA soon afterward.
Walker was signed his third record deal in late 2006, this time with Asylum-Curb, a division of Curb Records. His first single for the label, "'Fore She Was Mama", reached a peak of #21 in March 2007. It was followed by the release of Fall, Walker's tenth album overall. Its title track was released to radio in April 2007, and after more than thirty weeks on the Billboard country charts, "Fall" became Walker's first Top Five hit in seven years. It was later covered by pop/R&B singer Kimberley Locke on her album Based on a True Story. Also included on Fall was a cover of Freddy Fender's hit song "Before the Next Teardrop Falls", which Walker recorded as a duet with Fender. "She Likes It in the Morning" was the album's third and final single, peaking at #43.
Ninth studio album
Walker's next album is slated for a late-2009 release. The album will include a duet with former Alabama lead singer Randy Owen on a cover of Alabama's "Feels So Right".
In 1996, Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease which affects the central nervous system. He manages his MS through daily injections of Copaxone. He has also participated in several forms of charity to help fight MS; most notably, his own non-profit charity, Band Against MS. He regularly competes in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am; in 2005, his team won the tournament, and Walker donated his share of the winnings to Band Against MS. Walker performs for health care professionals and their families at least once a year free of charge. Walker's last performance of this kind was May 29, 2009.