1965 Walker Brothers – Make It Easy On Yourself
In 1963, John Walker and Scott Engel were members of a group called itself The Surfaris that played dates in the Midwest. Another group using the name Surfaris were based in California and had a #2 hit with Wipe Out in 1962 and remained active until 1965, so it’s likely the Midwest band trying to use the same name fell apart quickly.
John and Scott moved to LA and formed the Walker Brothers Trio in 1964 with a drummer. None of them were related to each other, and (at least initially) John was the only Walker. John was the lead singer and played bass guitar, while Scott sang back-up vocals and played an acoustic guitar.
Gary Leeds became the drummer for the Standells in 1962. He left the group in 1964, a year before they reached the charts with the single Dirty Water. Gary then toured the UK with P. J. Proby, who reached the top ten in the UK with Hold Me (the single peaked at #70 in the US). When Gary returned to the US, he met John and Scott and tried to convince them that based on his recent tour, their style of music would go over well in the UK.
The band began playing regularly at Gazzarri’s Club, which led to appearances on early episodes of Hollywood A Go Go beginning in late 1964. They dropped the drummer and removed the word “Trio” from the band’s name and continued appearing locally.
Gary began working as the group’s drummer, and he and Scott eventually changed their last names to “Walker” for public appearances.
The group recorded two singles in early 1965. The first did not capture much attention, but Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote their second single and Jack Nitzsche arranged it. For the first time, Scott sang lead on a song. Love Her did not chart in the US and initially did not chart in the UK.
In February, Gary’s father paid the expenses so the group could travel to England. They quickly signed with Philips Records. By June, Love Her had reached the top twenty in the UK.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote Make It Easy On Yourself and produced a demo by Dionne Warwick in 1962. Producer Calvin Carter took the demo to Jerry Butler and produced a single using an arrangement from Burt. The single peaked at #20 on the Hot 100. John insisted that the Walker Brothers follow up their success with Love Her by recording Make It Easy On Yourself. The single quickly topped the UK chart, and late in the year it reached #16 on the Hot 100 in the US.
The group’s next single reached #3 in the UK, but only got as high as #63 in the US. The group had one other hit in the US. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore again took the group to the top of the UK chart, but peaked at only #13 on the Hot 100 in the US in 1966.
They had five more hits in the UK that failed to chart in the US. The group split up in 1968 after a brief tour in Japan that also yielded a live album. The members pursued solo careers, none of which produced reasonable sales.
The group reunited in 1975 and again reached the top ten in the UK with the single No Regrets. They released three albums before splitting up again.
John died in 2011, and Scott died in 2019.
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