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Walter Hyatt (October 25, 1949 - May 11, 1996) was an American singer and songwriter. His band, known as Uncle Walt's Band, was involved in the music scene in Austin, Texas from its inception and is credited with being the original Americana Artist.

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Early life

Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Walter Hyatt was exposed to different styles of music at an early age, including styles favored by his parents. He started playing the guitar at age 13, using a Mel Bay chord book to learn all the music chords, and formed his first band in his mid-teen years.

Music career

At age 20, Hyatt formed Uncle Walt's Band with Champ Hood and David Ball, two of his fellow Spartanburg citizens. They moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1972, where they caught the attention of Willis Alan Ramsey, a famous and revered Texas singer and songwriter. Luring them to his studio, Ramsey would become the band's first noted fan.

The band returned to the Carolinas in 1974, recording Blame It On The Bossanova, their first record, at Charlotte, North Carolina's Arthur Smith Studios.

A year later, Uncle Walt's Band split up, with Hyatt returning to Nashville and forming a new band, The Contenders, with Champ Hood and Nashville musicians Steve Runkle, Tommy Goldsmith, and drummer Jimbeau Walsh.

In 1978, Uncle Walt's Band played a reunion gig in Austin, and the success that followed kept the band together in subsequent years. That success wasn't limited to the South, however. Uncle Walt's Band gained a cult following around the world, ranging from the University of California - Berkeley to Moscow University in Russia. UWB released two more albums on the local Lespedeza label, 1980's An American in Texas and 1982's Uncle Walt's Band Recorded Live, which was recorded at the Waterloo Ice House in Austin.

In 1987, Hyatt returned to Nashville with his wife, Heidi Hyatt, and embarked on a solo career. The work that resulted from this career, while artistically fruitful and critically acclaimed, wasn't a commercial success. In 1990, Hyatt became the first vocalist for MCA's Master Series label. His first album from this label, King Tears, was produced by Lyle Lovett, who was a fan of Uncle Walt's Band as a college student. Lovett would later offer Hyatt opening act slots and production expertise during his own music career. In 1993, Hyatt released a second album, Music Town, on the Sugar Hill label.

Walter Hyatt's, "Some Unfinished Business, Volume One", was released January 22, 2008 to rave reviews. Taken from the last songs Walter recorded before his tragic death, "Volume One" brings artists and musicians together to add the finishing touches to Uncle Walt's extraordinary music. Producer Michael Killen, working with Heidi Hyatt, assembled a who's who of Nashville musicians to accomplish this task. Killen scoured tape after tape left behind by Walter to find the best performance of each song. Together with Nashville engineer Nick Sparks, the two prepared each track for overdubbing. Killen envisioned three CD's of Walter's songs. A country album, an R&B rock album, and a jazz/ballad flavored album. Enough tracks were recorded for all three. The songs on "Some Unfinished Business, Volume One" represent these distinct Walter Hyatt styles.

Death

Following a gig in Key West with the King Tears Band, Walter Hyatt boarded ValuJet Flight 592 to attend the graduation of his daughter, Haley. However, the plane caught fire and crashed into the Everglades, killing all 110 passengers and crew on board. [1]

Tribute

In 1997, an episode of the PBS show Austin City Limits featured a tribute to Walter Hyatt put together by Lyle Lovett and various musicians who have had associations with him. Among the performers were Junior Brown, Shawn Colvin, Allison Moorer, Marcia Ball, David Halley, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lyle Lovett, and his Uncle Walt's Band bandmates, Champ Hood and David Ball.

References

See also

External links

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