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Clinton Walker

Clinton Walker

Clinton Walker is an art school dropout and recovering rock critic, a Sydney writer the Sun-Herald has called "our best chronicler of Australian grass-roots culture."

Since starting out in student newspapers and his own punk fanzines in Brisbane in 1977, he's published nine books, worked extensively in television, written millions of words as a journalist, produced and/or annotated a score of anthology CDs and been record-shop jockey, a DJ, and even a cook to the stars! After his first book Inner City Sound was published in 1981, Walker spent the rest of the decade on the freelance treadmill, as a star contributor to Australia’s two leading rock rags, RAM and Rolling Stone, and to all the leading local newspapers and magazines. His hillbilly-grunge band the Killer Sheep got run out of the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1987, before posthumously releasing the single 'Wild Down Home' on Au-Go-Go Records in 1988.

Pulling back from journalism, he wrote four books in the 1990s, including Highway to Hell (his acclaimed, best-selling biography of Bon Scott), Stranded and Buried Country (a history of Aboriginal C&W). Going into the 2000s he moved into television, working on the film version of Buried Country plus, for the ABC, a number of programs, including the hit rockumentary series Long Way to the Top, the late-night live music show Studio 22, and Rare Grooves; plus he produced their soundtrack albums.

More recently, he's written more books outside music topics, but forged a relationship with US publisher Verse Chorus Press to keep in print for the world Highway to Hell and Inner City Sound. In 2012, he published History is Made at Night, a polemic in defense of Australia's besieged live music circuit, and in 2014, VCP will publish a new updated edition of Buried Country, plus its all-new companion piece or sister volume, Walker's tenth book, and first graphic history, Deadly Woman Blues, about the great black ladies of Australian music.

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

AC/DC, The Easybeats, Johnny O'Keefe, The Loved Ones, The Saints, Les Welch: Overcoming the Cringe: A Potted History of Australian Rock and Pop

Overview by Clinton Walker, Sunday Mail (Australia), 2006

WHEN ROCK 'N' ROLL exploded by that name in the mid-1950s, it wasn't as if there hadn't been any warning. For the some time [sic ...

The Birthday Party, Nick Cave: Nick Cave: Back to the Ballroom

Book Excerpt by Clinton Walker, 'Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave', 2009

I FIRST MET Nick Cave in Melbourne in early 1978 when we were both, I daresay, players in a new music underground that was still ...

Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence, Johnny O'Keefe, Paul Kelly (singer-songwriter): Co-Dependent: A Potted History of Drugs and Australian Music

Essay by Clinton Walker, Meanjin, 1 June 2002

I CAN STILL remember my first joint. All the usual jibes notwithstanding (memory loss, not inhaling, whatever), I remember it vividly: It was at the ...

Guy Clark, Bap Kennedy, Conway Savage, Steve Young: Guy Clark: Cold Dog Soup, Steve Young: Primal Young, Conway Savage: Nothing Broken, Bap Kennedy: Lonely Street

Review by Clinton Walker, HQ, 1990

"JOHNNY CASH DIES": It's a headline that some of us, with more than a tinge of sadness, have been dreading to see for some time ...

John Coltrane, Miles Davis: Miles Davis: Complete Columbia Recordings #3, 1955-'60, with John Coltrane

Review by Clinton Walker, HQ, 2000

IN 1955 WHEN John Coltrane replaced Sonny Rollins in the new quintet Miles Davis was getting together, jazz was at a turning point – and ...

Alan Dale, Johnny O'Keefe, Vic Sabrino, Les Welch: What was the First Australian Rock 'n' Roll Record?

Retrospective by Clinton Walker, Meanjin, 2006

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Extracted from the Meanjin Anthology, edited by Sally Heath and published by Melbourne University Press in 2012, after it was first published in Meanjin magazine in ...

Deep Purple, george: Worst Idea in the History of Music: Concerto for Jon Lord and george

Comment by Clinton Walker, Limelight, 2003

AN EMAIL ARRIVED for me a little while back, just after the program for the 2003 Sydney Festival was released. Titled THE WORST IDEA IN ...

The Go-Betweens, The Saints: Brisbane's Pig City Festival

Report by Clinton Walker, Brisbane Courier-Mail, July 2007

THE QUEENSLAND Music Festival, which is launched next Friday with a dawn concert in Winton and runs for a fortnight till July 29, is an ...

Laughing Clowns: Neo-Realism and the Zeitgeist

Interview by Clinton Walker, Age, The, 1984

IT'S AN OLD ADAGE that worthwhile art only arises out of conflict. Friction, after all, is what generates the sparks that light the fire. ...

Mental as Anything: Murray Waldren: The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa

Book Review by Clinton Walker, unpublished, 2007


The Scientists: Grunge Going Global

Report and Interview by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 1983

THE NEWS THAT the Scientists are about to leave Australia — as permanently as is possible — will doubtless barely cause a ripple in Oz-rocks ...

Sunnyboys: Get Some Fun (Mushroom)

Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone, 1984

THE SUNNYBOYS are a group who had success — or near-success, at least — thrust upon them at an early age, and although it's to ...

The Triffids: Irony and Distance

Interview by Clinton Walker, Next Thing, The, 1984

THE TRIFFIDS fairly well defy convention; their seeming contradictions only make them stronger. They come from Perth, capital of raunch'n'roll and birthplace of the Scientists ...

Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground: What Goes On

Sleevenotes by Clinton Walker, Raven Records, 1993

AT A TIME in the late '60s when the hippies were preaching peace and love – as they would have it, in short, a whole ...

List of genre pieces

Countdown Spectacular

Retrospective by Clinton Walker, Australian, The, 2007

I USED TO have this attempted joke I'd pull out at sagging Sunday afternoon barbeques when I wanted to leave. Oh well, I'd say, I ...

Iain McIntyre: Tomorrow is Today: Australia in the Psychedelic Era, 1966-1970

Book Review by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 2006

IAIN MCINTYRE'S first book, 2004's Wild About You!, was unfortunately a very limited edition, published by – of all people – the Community Radio Federation ...

Robert Milliken: Lillian Roxon, Mother Of Rock

Book Review by Clinton Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, the, 2002

ROCK JOURNALISM is, of course, the lowest of the low. Trust me, I know. It has recently enjoyed improved profile with films like High Fidelty ...

The Cassette Revolution

Report by Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), 1982

"ATTITUDES TO CASSETTES are changing," says Andy Maine, co-producer of Fast Forward cassette magazine. "For so long they've been the little brother or sister of ...

The Vinyl Age

Essay by Clinton Walker, Sociology: Place, Time and Division (OUP), 2006

I GREW UP in a house without music. In suburban Melbourne in the 1960s, we had a spindly-legged (black and white) TV whose blonde-wood finish ...

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