Newson Center, Clarksdale, Mississippi

Robert "Bilbo" Walker

Clarksdale bluesman, Robert "Bilbo" Walker.

Robert “Bilbo” Walker Jr. was a highly entertaining bluesman who performed regularly in Clarksdale.  Born here, Bilbo was known for his showmanship, his rocking Chuck Berry imitations, and for his flamboyant Las Vegas-style stage attire…and then there is his jet-black stage hair!

Robert was born outside of Clarksdale in 1937.  He got his “Bilbo” nickname from his father.  He began to play music after being introduced to Ike Turner.  As his musical talent matured, Bilbo spent a lot of time in Chicago with friend David Porter, then he moved to the Bakersfield, CA area.  There he started a farm and continued performing around there, and regularly in Chicago and Clarksdale thereafter.

A Bilbo performance was an unpredictable, surprising, memorable event.  He’s always got a grand entrance, and he played deep blues, rock, even bluegrass, and some country throughout a set.  His stage costume: Liberace….eat your heart out!

Robert was also known for creating the entertaining vehicles that get him to his gigs, including trucks, old buses, and cars, with the color added attention-getting custom-Bilbo art that went along with them.

Robert recorded three albums, and he is featured in the 2015 documentary, I am the Blues.

Sign location:  corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Sunflower (near Red’s Lounge)
Sign production:  digital art by Richard Bolen
Source image: photography may be via The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint in Oceans Spring, MS

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