Shock and sadness at the death of much-loved musician and York busker

Jonny Walker
14 Mar 2018 @ 8.21 pm
| News

A much-loved musician who entertained countless thousands of people on the streets of York has died.

Jonny Walker was one of the best-known faces – and voices – in York. He played regularly across the city.

His death was announced by his family on his official Facebook page. They said:

It is with great sorrow but immense thankfulness for a passionately lived life, that after 3 days in the Critical Care Unit at Leeds General Infirmary, Jonny died peacefully, at 11:13am today, surrounded by family.

During the coming days, his family ask that you allow them time to grieve.

Details of opportunities to celebrate and remember Jonny’s life will follow in due time.

His death was confirmed by his friend Steven Heath.

“I can confirm that the news is true,” he told YorkMix. “Everyone is deeply saddened and shocked.”

Changed York forever

[arve url=”” mode=”normal” title=”Jonny Walker playing in Kings Square, York” /]

Jonny, who was born in Liverpool, described himself as “a wandering minstrel” who performed on the streets and stages of the UK, mainland Europe and beyond.

He was passionate about street entertainment and founded the Keep Streets Live Campaign.

This was highly influential in changing York’s previously restrictive rules on busking, doing away with the need for permits and drawing up new collaborative guidelines with the input of the street entertainers themselves.

In 2015 Jonny wrote: “York’s new guidance for busking further enhances its deserved reputation as one of the UK’s leading cultural cities.

“Importantly, the new policy safeguards the spontaneity and informality that are key to the busking tradition, which will help to attract high quality busking acts from all over the world and animate the city’s streets.”

His last live video posted from York took place in Kings Square on February 11.

So many tributes

Before another York performance

Many of his friends and fans couldn’t believe the news of Jonny’s death. His last Facebook Live video was posted from a busking session on the streets of Leeds only on Sunday.

Tributes have been pouring in.

Here are a just a handful of the comments left on his Facebook page.

This is so very sad. Jonny was a one in a million – no-one else like him. A blast of energy and love and I’ll always treasure the times we had.

Jonny was such a beautiful shining light I can’t believe he is gone

This is truly awful news. Jonny did so much for the sick and the homeless and made those who saw him perform smile and continue on their day a little happier.

Can’t believe it, Jonny was a larger than life character & such a talented musician.

His family added this message: “We are aware that the news of Jonny’s sudden death will have come as a great shock to many of you.

“Help is available by calling Leeds Survivor led crisis service Freephone 0808 800 1212 where you can speak with someone from 6pm – 2am, or access their online instant messaging service

“The Samaritans are also on hand to help and their freephone number is 116 123.”