1990 to Present
In 1990, son, Ray was out of high school so Burch and Linda sold the Alta Club to Wayne Kurtz and moved to Reno, Nevada. They bought the Cork Room Lounge on South Virginia and Burch went to work at the Cal Neva, a casino owned by an old gambling pioneer from Great Falls, MT. He dealt for a while, then moved into management there. He, son Ray, and Linda
joined The Sierra Highlanders, a very good pipe band, and was elected by the band to the position of Pipe Major (band leader again). The pipe band competed successfully in the western US and did two trips to Scotland where they competed in the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Burch and Linda enjoy the the sunshine in Nevada and have made many great new friends. Burch has a recording studio at home and still writes and records covers of his old favorites. He has turned the job of pipe band leader over to son Ray, but he and Linda still play in the pipe band.
Burch stays busy playing and enjoying all of his instruments and playing with his old Walkers bandmates. Burch is currently building historical video scrapbooks of Burch Ray and the Walkers, incorporating cuts of their records and old photos and footage. These will be posted on Youtube.
On April 13, 2013, “Burch Ray and the Walkers” were inducted into the South Dakota Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was a great honor and due to the early years of playing rock and roll in the Midwest. The band played a thirty minute set. Members were: Burch, Joe Konkright, Gary Askin Dennis Steiner, Bill Hainer, Ray Palmer, Linda Palmer and Dennis Mellville.
1973 to 1990
In 1973, Burch and Linda, along with son, Ray moved back to their home town, Miles City, MT. They were getting tired of wearing out cars and living out of suit cases. Burch, Linda and band members, Wayne Kurtz and Jack Allison bought the Alta Club. Dennis Mellville, Burch’s nephew and Randy Savage were also in The Walkers at this time. The Alta Club was a good sized night club on the edge of town and the band could play there and not have to travel. Montana had voted in gambling , so pretty soon they had a good poker game. Wayne and Burch ran the gambling and Dennis, Jack and Randy played a trio. As time went on, they were so busy running the very popular club, that they started hiring other bands to come in. The Walkers, at this time kind of faded away. From time to time some good musicians would come along and Burch would put together a house band and they were always called The Walkers. In the 80’s Burch, Linda, Ray and The Walkers did some 50-60’s shows and played all the old rock music from the early days. These shows were great and recordings were made of them. The music came out quite well for live shows. In 1979 Burch cut a country album in Nashville. He wrote a lot of the songs himself and some of the more popular ones were ‘MONTANA GAMBLER’ , ‘LOVE HER OFF MY MIND,’ AND ‘FIDJUN.’ During this time, Burch had become a pretty good fiddle player and also played some 5-string banjo. He then got interested in the bagpipes and he and his son, Ray, started the Miles City Caledonian Pipe Band. Four summer piping schools were attended in Denver to achieve some expertise.
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Burch Ray and the Walkers Biography
Burch Ray Palmer attended high school at Custer County High School in Miles City, MT. After graduation he started The Walkers rock ‘n’ roll band. He was very much impressed by people like Chan Romero from Billings, MT and Eddie Cochran who came to town during his senior year. Burch’s parents, Ray and Crystal, bought him a Gretsch guitar at that time, and he drove cattle truck with his father to earn enough to buy a Fender Concert Amp. Burch decided to go by his first and middle names on stage so the band became “Burch Ray and the Walkers.” The Walkers name came from a Duane Eddy record, “The Walker.” The name also came from always being broke down in Joe Konkright’s ‘56 Chevy and having to ‘walk.’ It was kind of an opposite of “Roadrunners,” another popular band name at that time. There were many good musicians and entertainers who played in The Walkers over the years, but the originals were Joe Konkright, drums, Eddie Harris, bass and Gary Askin, rhythm guitar. Walkers who joined the band in ‘62 were Gary Mundon, bass; Doug Boyle, drums; and Dennis Steiner; guitar. After the army in ‘64, another school and army buddy Wayne Kurtz, joined the band as drummer. Wayne, Gary Mundon and Burch played many shows together. The band played many ballrooms, dance halls, roller rinks, armories, pavilions, gymnasiums, etc., during the rock’n’roll years 1961-1967. They were popular in the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Highlights during that time were backing Chubby Checker, Dickey Lee, Buddy Knox, a tour with The Angels and some shows with The Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys. The band’s first record ‘WAITIN’ ALONE b/w TIME TRAP’ was recorded at
SOMA Records in Minneapolis in 1962. The next record ‘LOVE QUESTIONS b/w
LOVE WAS MADE FOR TWO’ was recorded by Ray Ruff in Amarillo, TX in 1965. The last record cut by Burch during that period was ‘WELL...ALL RIGHT b/w PLAYGROUND.’ This session was done in Hollywood and was co-produced by Sonny Curtis, Jerry Allison and Buddy Knox. Some of The Crickets and Glen Campbell played on this session.
Burch was a member of the Montana National Guard so, in 1967 took some time off from music to attend officer’s school in Fort Benning, GA. He was commissioned a 2LT in an
armored cav unit in Montana. In the fall of ‘67, Burch, Wayne and Gary Mundon, along
Songs from the heart