Walker was either born Autry DeWalt II or re-christened such following an earlier name, Oscar G. Mixon, on June 14, 1931. Although he mastered the crawl and the toddle, "Junior Walker" got that moniker not from frequent roaming but from his father, Roosevelt Walker.
Still, after his family moved from Blytheville, Arkansas to South Bend, Indiana, people started noticing his special rhythms. In his new home, he could pursue his lifelong specialty: music. With his trusty tenor saxophone, Junior Walker blew through high school and nearby R&B and jazz clubs with the Jumping Jacks.