The Walker Brothers were an American 1960s and 1970s pop group, comprising Scott Engel (eventually known professionally as Scott Walker), John Maus, and Gary Leeds (eventually known as Gary Walker). They had a number of top ten albums and singles in the mid-1960s, including number 1 chart hits Make It Easy on Yourself and The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine .
Formed in 1964, the three unrelated musicians adopted the 'Walker Brothers' name as a show business touch - simply because we liked it. They provided a unique counterpoint to the British Invasion in that they were a group from the United States that only achieved success in the United Kingdom and Germany, while the popularity of bands such as The Beatles spread to the US.
The Walker Brothers formed in Los Angeles in 1964. John Maus' band, in which Scott Engel played bass, had a residency at Gazzari's Club in Hollywood, California, and were seen one night by local drummer Gary Leeds. All three had played in other bands – Engel had played, for example, with The Routers, and Leeds with The Standells. Leeds had recently returned from touring the UK as a member of P.J. Proby's backing band and – along with club regular Brian Jones - thought that the band's rock and roll and blues style would go down well in swinging London, where Proby had already succeeded. Before leaving, they appeared in a film, Beach Ball, and they sent demo recordings to record labels in the United Kingdom.
With Leeds' stepfather as sponsor, the three moved to London in February 1965. When they landed, record producer Johnny Franz was keen to sign them up. In a short time they had played several venues around the UK and secured a recording contract with Philips Records. Their first single, Pretty Girls Everywhere, with Maus as lead singer, had little success, but radio stations picked up on the follow up Love Her with Engel's baritone vocals, and it made the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart in June 1965. The song was originally recorded by The Everly Brothers and released as B-side to their single The Girl Who Sang The Blues in 1963.
Philips then recorded and released the group's version of Make It Easy on Yourself, a Burt Bacharach and Hal David ballad previously recorded by Jerry Butler. The song was sung by Engel (by now called Scott Walker), arranged by Ivor Raymonde and produced by Johnny Franz, with a full orchestra augmented by session musicians, very much in the style of Phil Spector's productions. Session musicians on the record included Alan Parker and Big Jim Sullivan - some later Walker Brothers’ records may also have involved Jimmy Page. By August 1965, Make It Easy on Yourself had entered the UK Top 10 eventually reaching the Number One spot. Later in the year it also made #16 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track sold 250,000 copies in the UK, and over one million copies globally, gaining gold disc status.
The Number 3 UK hit My Ship Is Coming In followed, and then in March 1966, The Walker Brothers hit #1 for the second time in six months with The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore. Their popularity in the UK – particularly that of Scott – reached a new high, especially among teenage girls, and their fan club in that country was said to have been larger than The Beatles'. Although The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore also made the U.S. Top 20, they had less success in their home country.
The Walker Brothers continued to have chart hits in the UK in 1966 and 1967, with Scott taking a more prominent role in their song choices and arrangements, but with diminishing commercial success. As pop music moved on, the Walker Brothers began to sound dated. By the end of 1967, the pressures of stardom, internal tensions, and 'artistic differences' began to diminish the group. It sent Scott Walker into depression - he had already attempted suicide and he sought refuge in a monastery by the time his enmity with Maus split the band. After a tour in Japan in 1968, the group officially disbanded.
All three continued to release solo records, with Scott (who first recorded solo in 1967) being by far the most successful and creating a large cult following. In 1976 the group unexpectedly reunited, scoring another UK Top 10 hit with Tom Rush's No Regrets. However, the three albums that followed sold poorly. Scott's tracks on the final album, Nite Flights, laid the stylistic groundwork for Scott's later solo career.
John later went on to become a custom guitar builder based in San Diego.
Much of the Walkers' story is retold in the biography, Scott Walker A Deep Shade of Blue, published only in the UK.
•Scott Walker - born Noel Scott Engel, 9 January 1943, Hamilton, Ohio - lead vocalist, bassist
•Gary Walker - born Gary Leeds, 9 March 1942, Glendale, California - drummer, vocalist.
•John Walker - born John Maus, 12 November 1943, New York - guitarist, vocalist.
The track listing for the Walker Brothers' first British album is similar to the one for their debut American LP (Introducing the Walker Brothers), except that it's missing their first single ("Pretty Girls Everywhere"/"Doin' the Jerk") and "My Ship Is Coming In," and adds three cuts not on the U.S. release. As it happens, these three tracks are worth having, particularly the David Gates-penned ballad "The Girl I Lost in the Rain" and "First Love Never Dies," another son-of-Righteous Brothers epic that would have made a reasonable single.