Sunday, May 21, 2006
– Grand Ole Opry star Billy Walker, 77, was killed in a car accident Sunday in Alabama along with his wife and two band members.
Walker, known as the Tall Texan, first hit the charts in 1954 with "Thank You for Calling." Throughout his career, he had 65 songs hit the charts, including a number one of "Charlie's Shoes" in 1962.
Prior to that he was a regular on the Big D Jamboree radio show in Dallas as The Masked Singer in 1949. he also acted in the movies "Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar" and "Red River Round Up."
Walker had escaped death once before - he was slated to be in the ill-fated plane that killed Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, The Big Bopper and Hackshaw Hawkins. Walker had an emergency and had to return home. Hawkins overheard Walker's problem and switched tickets.
Killed Sunday were Bettie Walker, 61, and band members Charles Lilly, 44 and Daniel Patton, 40, all of Tennessee.
Walker's grandson, Joshua Brooks, 21, was hospitalized in critical condition following the crash in which their car apparently ran off an interstate highway near Montgomery, Ala.