LILLIAN WALKER (latterly know as Lillian Walker-Moss), founding member of seminal vocal group, the EXCITERS, died on Sunday 5th February. She was 78 and reports suggest that she’d been diagnosed with the rare cancer, angiosarcoma.
Lillian along with Brenda Reid, Carolyn (Carol) Johnson and Sylvia Wilbur formed the proto Exciters in 1961 in Queens, New York city. Then they were called the Masterettes and they made their first recording in 1962. Sylvia Wilbur was soon replaced by Penny Carter and after landing a recording deal with Leiber and Stoller, Herb Rooney was drafted into the line up and the group became the Exciters.
In early ’63 the Exciters scored their first hit with their classic ‘Tell Him’ which reached no. 4 on the U.S. pop chart in early 1963. A cover by Billie Davis became a UK hit. The group’s other hits included ‘He’s Got the Power’, ‘Get Him’, ‘Blowing Up My Mind’ (which, of course became a Northern soul staple) and ‘Do Wah Diddy’ which became a monster UK hit when covered by Manfred Mann.
Famously the Exciters were chosen as the opening act for the Beatles 1964 US tour and Northern fans will know that in 1975 an incarnation of the Exciters (just Herb and Brenda Rooney – Herb had married Brenda Reid) enjoyed more Northern mileage with the Ian Levine helmed ‘Reaching For The Best’.
Lillian Walker had left the group by then but more latterly she had worked with Brenda Rooney/Reid on the oldies circuit (Herb Rooney died in the early 90s), though after gaining a Masters of Education qualification, she also worked as a Guidance Counsellor in the New York City school system.