john walker ross – rest in peace, my friend

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

I AM THE BEARER OF BAD TIDINGS: My friend and co-author John Walker Ross passed away on Feb­ruary 9, 2021, and this is an obit­uary of sorts and a tribute. I stum­bled over John’s blog The Round Place In The Middle sev­eral years ago and spent the day reading his ar­ti­cles. I sent John an email telling him he was now My Fa­vorite Au­thor Writing About Rock Music of the ’60s!

We im­me­di­ately be­came pen­pals and even­tu­ally be­came friends. Nondis­pos­able Johnny—the nick­name he used in the com­ments sec­tion of his posts—and I co-authored a lengthy piece about the im­por­tance of In The Ghetto in Elvis Presley’s ca­reer, which was pub­lished on my blog, Elvis – A Touch Of Gold.

This led to an al­liance with John and Lew Shiner that led to Tell It Like It Was, a pub­li­ca­tion de­voted to our fa­vorite records on the pop­ular Medium plat­form, and then Elvis – That’s The Way It Was, an­other Medium pub­li­ca­tion but this one de­voted to Elvis Presley.

John was also a reg­ular con­trib­utor to the Six­ties Music Se­crets blog.

Aside from ar­guing the great­ness of the Shangri-Las (and ex­actly why aren’t they in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?) and “girl groups” in gen­eral, John wrote elo­quently about the short-sightedness of the better-known rock music critics, which he dubbed the Crit Illuminati.

He also wrote lovely re­views of movies, mostly old-fashioned west­erns (es­pe­cially di­rec­tors John Ford and Budd Boet­ticher) and so-called noir thrillers (we shared a life­long crush on Gloria Gra­hame). His other fa­vorite topic was murder mys­tery novels.


John Walker Ross: photo of Brenda Lee on stage in 1960.
This is Little Brenda Lee on stage some­where in Amer­ican in 1960. This is the photo that John used as the fea­tured image for his blog, The Round Place In The Middle.

John Walker Ross

Reg­ular readers of The Round Place In The Middle are aware that John suf­fered through sev­eral se­rious health is­sues over the past few years. His last project on his blog was a se­ries of ar­ti­cles ti­tled “De­fending My Life One Album At A Time,” where he in­tended to re­view the 100 al­bums that had in­flu­enced and pleased him the most in his 59 years.

Here are the al­bums he had listed:

#  97   Warren Zevon, Stand In The Fire
#  98   Johnny Bur­nette, The Rock ‘N Roll Trio
#  99   Dave Dudley, The Pool Shark
#100   Rachel Sweet, Fool Around

John left be­hind sev­eral other un­com­pleted projects, in­cluding a novel (a murder mys­tery, of course).

Fi­nally, John’s fa­ther was a Bap­tist min­ister so I’m sure both of them would ap­pre­ciate your prayers.


Photo of John Walker Ross traipsing through a field somewhere in America in 2019.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is John in a field some­where on his journey to dis­cover Amer­ican and him­self through the music and legend of Buddy Holly. It ac­com­pa­nied his au­to­bi­o­graph­ical ar­ticle “One Ghost Too Many: Buddy Holly Lives On,” in which he “goes where many have gone be­fore and can’t tell if his story is dif­ferent or the same.”

Here is what John had to say for him­self in the About Me sec­tion of The Round Place In The Middle: “Hi. My name is John Walker Ross. I blog from Ha­vana, Florida with the in­ten­tion of saying things you don’t hear every day. Feel free to let me know how I’m doing.”

You did fine, John, just fine . . .


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Thank you for sharing this sad news. While I un­for­tu­nately never had a chance to get to know John per­son­ally, I very much en­joyed reading his blog over the years. I’ll miss his out­look. I’ve prayed for him, his family, and his friends.

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