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Peter Walker

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Biography

Although he only released two albums in the mid-'60s, Peter Walker influenced a whole host of subsequent guitarists with his modal drone explorations of Eastern musical forms and his experiments with raga and flamenco. Born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts, into a musical family (his father played guitar and his mother played piano), Walker took up the guitar early, although he didn't begin to play in public until around 1959. During a stint in San Francisco he heard the legendary Ravi Shankar perform and Walker's lifelong fascination with Eastern raga was formed, along with his like passion for the flamenco tradition. He studied with Shankar for a time in Los Angeles and also studied with Ali Akbar Khan in San Francisco. Returning to the Boston area, he became a regular on the 1960s Cambridge and Greenwich Village folk scenes, where he became close friends with guitarist Sandy Bull and the tragic folksinger Karen Dalton (Walker was at her side when she passed away from AIDS). Walker released the influential Rainy Day Raga LP on Vanguard Records in 1966, following it with a second Vanguard LP, Second Poem to Karmela, or Gypsies Are Important, two years later in 1968, and then dropped away from the music scene, settling in upstate New York to raise his family. He continued his exploration of the guitar, though, and traveled to Spain to immerse himself in the tight-knit flamenco guitar community there. Rediscovered by Joshua Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records, Walker contributed four new guitar pieces to A Raga for Peter Walker, which was released in 2008 on Rosenthal's label and featured tribute tracks from the likes of Jack Rose, James Blackshaw, Steffen Basho-Junghans, Thurston Moore, and Greg Davis. In November of 2013, Delmore Recordings issued his previously unreleased early-'70s album Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?

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