Jon Walmsley truly rocked at being a big brother on The Waltons
From giving guitar lessons to taking requests, Jason Walton shared his musical gifts with his siblings.
John-Boy may have been the writer in the Walton family, but Jason Walton was the musician.
Across the series, we watched Jason perform in 43 episodes, and the actor who played the character, Jon Walmsley, contributed even more than that musically to the show.
He also wrote songs used in six episodes, including songs he wrote for his family like "Momma's Birthday Song" and "Ironing Board Blues."
"I love his 'Ironing Board Blues,'" Mary Beth McDonough (Erin Walton) wrote in her memoir, Lessons from the Mountain. "As Jason, he played it while Grandma ironed."
McDonough remembers being a "pesky" sister, requesting that he play the song often after the episode aired.
"I would pester him to play the song all the time," she said. "It's so peppy and happy."
While the show was on the air, Walmsley wasn't just playing for his siblings behind the scenes. He was also playing in bands in Los Angeles. In his career, he worked with Brian Setzer, the Doobie Brothers, Roger Daltrey, Merle Haggard, Roy Acuff, Gregg Allman and many other banner musicians.
McDonough said all his TV siblings would go out to see him play in bands whenever they could.
"Sometimes he would invite us to join him onstage for a song," she remembered. "He is so musically gifted and talented."
Apparently in addition to taking requests to play songs backstage and inviting his castmates to perform with him at packed L.A. nightclubs, Jon Walmsley — a world-class guitarist — also totally forgot that he made time to teach at least one of his siblings how to play guitar behind the scenes of the show.
Years after The Waltons ended, Walmsley met up with Jim-Bob actor David W. Harper. Both Walton brothers were back living in L.A., and David wanted to show Jon some of the music that he’d been making, with the younger Walton actor simply considering his songwriting as a new hobby.
"I was so impressed by how good he was and how good his songs were," Walmsley said in the 2015 book Close Ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites.
"When did you learn all this?" Walmsley asked Harper.
"You taught me," Harper revealed.
"He credits me with getting him started by teaching him guitar," Walmsley said, humbly. "But I don't really remember that I showed him that much."
Maybe like any younger brother, Jim-Bob learned from watching Jason perform on the show?
"Jon played and composed for many of our shows, and his storylines usually included his talent and passion for music in some way," McDonough said.
McDonough and Walmsley ended up staying perhaps in closest contact with each other later on in life, when she moved about 15 minutes down the road from him in Long Beach.
It makes you wonder if maybe she'd pop by her older brother and new neighbor's house every now and again to request he play "Ironing Board Blues." Just one more time, for old time's sake. Please?