Joseph Fidler "Joe" Walsh (born November 20, 1947) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. He has been a member of four successful rock bands: the Eagles, the James Gang, Barnstorm, and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. In the 1990s, he was also a member of the short-lived supergroup The Best. He has also experienced success both as a solo artist and prolific session musician. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine placed Walsh at the number 54 spot on its list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."
Walsh joined the Eagles in 1975 as the group's keyboardist and guitarist following the departure of their founding member Bernie Leadon, with Hotel California being his first album with the band. In 1998 Guitarist magazine selected the guitar solos on the track Hotel California by Walsh and Don Felder as the best guitar solos of all time, and eighth of the Top 100 Guitar Solos.
Walsh pursued a solo career and released his debut album The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get in 1973. Since then, he has released twelve studio albums, six compilation albums, and two live albums. His solo hits include "Rocky Mountain Way", "Life's Been Good", "All Night Long", "A Life of Illusion", "Space Age Whiz Kids", "The Confessor", "The Radio Song" and "Ordinary Average Guy".
As a member of the Eagles, Walsh was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001. The Eagles remain the best-selling American band in the history of popular music. Walsh's creative contribution to music has received praise from many of the best rock guitarists, including Led Zeppelin's former guitarist, Jimmy Page who praised Walsh by saying "He has a tremendous feel for the instrument. I've loved his style since the early James Gang." Cream's former guitarist, Eric Clapton said that "He's one of the best guitarists to surface in some time. I don't listen to many records, but I listen to his." The Who's guitarist Pete Townshend, a friend of Walsh's, commented that "Joe Walsh is a fluid and intelligent player. There're not many like that around."
Early Life And Education
Joseph Fidler Walsh was born in Wichita, Kansas. His mother was a classically trained pianist of Scottish and German ancestry, and Walsh was adopted by his step-father at the age of five after his biological father was killed in a plane crash. In the 1950s it was common practice for Social Security, school registration, and health records for children to take the name of their stepfather, but Walsh's birth father's last name was Fidler, so he took that as his middle name. Walsh and his family lived in Columbus, Ohio, for a number of years during his youth. When Walsh was twelve years old, his family moved to New York City. Later, Walsh moved to Montclair, New Jersey, and he attended Montclair High School, where he played oboe in the school band. Inspired by the success of the Beatles, he replaced Bruce Hoffman as the bass player in the locally popular group the Nomads in Montclair, beginning his career as a rock musician. After high school, Walsh attended Kent State University, where he spent time in various bands playing around the Cleveland area, including the Measles. The Measles recorded for Super K Productions' Ohio Express: "I Find I Think of You", "And It's True", and "Maybe" (an instrumental version of "And It's True"). After one term, he dropped out of university to pursue his musical career.
1960s and 1970s
In January 1968 Walsh replaced Glenn Schwartz as the lead guitarist for the James Gang, a five piece American band that rapidly became a power trio after their lead vocalist and keyboardist quit. They released their first album, Yer' Album, in 1969. Afterwards, Tom Kriss left the band and was replaced by Dale Peters, creating the most successful incarnation of the James Gang. Walsh proved to be the band's star attraction, noted for his innovative rhythm playing and creative guitar riffs. In particular he was known for hot-wiring the pick-ups on his electric guitars to create his trademark "attack" sound. The James Gang had several minor hits and became an early album-oriented rock staple for the next two years, Shortly before the release of James Gang Rides Again, the James Gang opened a show for the legendary rock band, the Who in Pittsburgh. Their guitarist Pete Townshend met with the James Gang before they left and was even impressed enough to invite them on The Who's subsequent European tour. When Walsh was asked about this he said that, "Pete's a very melodic player and so am I. He told me that he appreciated my playing. I was flattered beyond belief because I didn't think I was that good."
The James Gang's next two albums, James Gang Rides Again (1970) and Thirds (1971), produced such classics as "Funk #49" and "Walk Away". The album James Gang Live at Carnegie Hall was Walsh's last album with them, as he became dissatisfied with the band's limitations. In November 1971, he left them and formed a band called Barnstorm, with drummer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Vitale, and bassist Kenny Passarelli, although both of their albums credited Walsh as a solo artist. They started recording their debut album immediately after forming, but at the time there were only Walsh and Vitale on these sessions. Chuck Rainey, did the first bass tracks on the album but were soon replaced by Passarelli. Walsh and Barnstorm released their debut album, the eponymous Barnstorm in October 1972. After taking a cue from Townshend, Walsh utilized the ARP Odyssey synthesizer to great effect on such songs as "Mother Says" and "Here We Go." Walsh also experimented with acoustic guitar, slide guitar, fuzzboxes and keyboards as well as running his guitar straight into a Leslie 122 to get swirly, organ-like guitar tones. The album was a critical success, but had only moderate commercial success. The follow-up The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get released in June 1973, was marketed under Walsh's name (although officially a Barnstorm album) and was their commercial breakthrough peaking at #6 on the US Billboard chart. The first and leading single, "Rocky Mountain Way" received heavy airplay and reached #23 on the US Top 40 chart. It featured new member, keyboardist Rocke Grace, and Walsh shared the vocals and songwriting with the other three members of the band. As a result, a variety of styles are explored on this album. There are elements of blues, jazz, folk, pop, and even Caribbean music. In 1974 Barnstorm disbanded and Walsh continued as a solo artist.
In 1974 Walsh produced Dan Fogelberg's Souvenirs album and played the guitar, electric guitar, 12 string guitar, arp bass and provided backing vocals. He also contacted Graham Nash to sing harmony vocals on "Part of the Plan", which helped send the album to #17 on the 1975 Billboard album chart.
In late 1974, Walsh played slide guitar on the former Barnstorm band mate, Joe Vitale's debut solo album Roller Coaster Weekend. In December 1974, Walsh released an official solo album, So What, which contained more introspective material such as "Help Me Through the Night" and "Song For Emma", a tribute to Walsh's daughter who had been killed in a car accident the previous year. On a few tracks, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Randy Meisner of the Eagles contributed backing vocals.
In March 1976, he released a live album, You Can't Argue with a Sick Mind, which also featured the Eagles. This would be his last solo album until 1978. In 1975, Walsh was invited to move to England and join Humble Pie by Steve Marriot, since Peter Frampton had left the band, but Walsh decided to decline his offer, and instead he would join the Eagles as Bernie Leadon's replacement. There was some initial concern as to Walsh's ability to fit in with the band, as he was considered far too "wild" for the Eagles, especially by their drummer and co-lead vocalist, Don Henley. His addition to the band turned out to be a successful one, steering the band toward a harder-edged sound and away from their early country-style work. He was featured prominently on their multi-million-selling album Hotel California, co-writing their Top 20 hit "Life in the Fast Lane" with Don Henley and Glenn Frey.
As the Eagles struggled to record their follow-up to Hotel California, Walsh re-ignited his solo career with the critically well-received album, But Seriously, Folks... in May 1978, and "Life's Been Good", which featured his hit comedic depiction of rock stardom, peaked at #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remains to date his biggest solo hit. Walsh also contributed "In the City" to The Warriors soundtrack in 1979, a song penned and sung by Walsh that was later rerecorded for the Eagles' studio album, The Long Run.
1980s and 1990s
Following the breakup of the Eagles in July 1980, Walsh continued to release solo albums throughout the 1980s, but sales did not meet the same level of his earlier successes. He also worked with other bands.
In 1981 Walsh and former Barnstorm bandmate, Joe Vitale went to work on old friend John Entwistle's fifth solo album Too Late the Hero, whenever they were to free to work on it. The album turned out to become John Entwistle's best-charting solo album, with hit singles "Talk Dirty" and "Too Late the Hero."
In late 1984 Walsh was contacted by Australian musician Paul Christie, the former bassist for Mondo Rock, invited him to come to Australia to perform with the Party Boys, an all-star group with a floating membership of well-known Australian rock musicians, which included the critically acclaimed guitarist Kevin Borich, with whom Walsh became good friends. Walsh accepted and performed with the Party Boys on their late 1984-early 1985 Australian tour, appearing on their live album, You Need Professional Help. He remained in Australia for some time after the tour, putting together the short-lived touring group "Creatures From America", with Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Rick Rosas (bass) and Australian drummer Richard Harvey (Divinyls, the Party Boys) In 1987, Walsh returned to the United States to work on his album Got Any Gum?, which was produced by Terry Manning, and it features vocal contributions from J. D. Souther and Survivor's lead vocalist Jimi Jamison. After the album's commercial disappointment, Walsh decided to return to Australia in 1989 to tour with another incarnation of the Party Boys. Walsh would also tour with Ringo Starr in 1989, alternating a handful of his best-known songs with Starr's tunes, as he did with all of the members of the "All Starr" band. In 1989, Walsh recorded a MTV Unplugged with the R&B musician Dr. John. Also in 1989 Walsh filmed a live concert from the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles with Etta James and Albert Collins. 'Jazzvisions: Jump The Blues Away'.
While producing their Homegrown album in 1989, Walsh briefly joined New Zealand reggae band Herbs. Although he had left by the time of its 1990 release, he still appears as lead vocalist on two tracks, "Up All Night" and "It's Alright." The album includes the first recording of his "Ordinary Average Guys" (sung by late Herbs bassist Charlie Tumahai), which subsequently became a solo hit for Walsh as "Ordinary Average Guy".
In late 1990, Walsh was part of a band called the Best, along with keyboardist Keith Emerson, bassist John Entwistle, guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and drummer Simon Phillips. The band performed several shows in Hawaii and Japan, with a live video resulting.
In 1994, Walsh reunited with the Eagles for a highly successful reunion tour and live album, Hell Freezes Over. Walsh has toured regularly with the Eagles since then, and the group released their first new studio album in 28 years, Long Road Out of Eden, in 2007. In 1995 Walsh sang the US National Anthem at the beginning of game five of the World Series.
In 1996, James Gang did a reunion for the Democratic president, Bill Clinton. The band consisted of their "classic" lineup (Walsh, Peters, Fox), and they performed at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center on 4 November 1996.
In 1998, ABC wanted to use a classic rock song rock for "Monday Night Football" that year, so they asked Walsh to rewrite the lyrics to "Rocky Mountain Way" for the quarterback John Elway of "Denver Broncos" Football team. "Rocky Mountain Elway" was the new title of the song and he did a video that ABC showed on the "Monday Night Football".
2000s and 2010s
In June 2004, Walsh performed at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, Texas. He was also featured in September 2004 at the Strat Pack, a concert held in London, England to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar. In 2006, Walsh reunited with Jim Fox and Dale Peters of the James Gang for new recordings and a 15-date summer reunion tour. The tour lasted into the fall.
In 2008, Walsh appeared on the Carvin 60th Anniversary Celebration DVD as a celebrity endorser. In the recorded interview, he highly praised Carvin guitars and claims that the bridge design is "just like the first Les Paul models. I can't even get Gibson to reissue it."
Walsh's song "One Day at at Time" released in 2012, details his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse earlier in his career. The song appeared on Walsh's album Analog Man, which was released on June 5, 2012. The album was co-produced by Jeff Lynne, with Tommy Lee James co-writing some of the album's tracks.
Kent State University awarded Walsh an honorary degree in music in December 2001. In May 2012, the Berklee College of Music awarded Walsh, along with other members of the Eagles, an honorary doctorate for his accomplishments in the field of music.
Walsh has produced albums for artists such as Dan Fogelberg and Ringo Starr. He was a background musician (1st guitar solo) on Eagles bandmate Don Henley's 1982 hit "Dirty Laundry" (listed as such in the liner notes of I Can't Stand Still and Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits). Walsh played guitar throughout Who bassist John Entwistle's 1981 solo album Too Late The Hero. Walsh has also contributed to albums by: America, REO Speedwagon, Jay Ferguson, Andy Gibb, Wilson Phillips, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Steve Winwood, and on the Richard Marx hit "Don't Mean Nothing".
Walsh was a regular guest deejay on the Los Angeles radio station, KLOS during the mid-1980s. They had a Saturday evening feature, with celebrity guest-hosts taking over the microphone (Walsh was the guest host far more frequently than any other). He was also been a frequent guest and guest-host of Detroit & Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl.
Onscreen Walsh has appeared in: The Blues Brothers, RoboCop, Promised Land, The Drew Carey Show, Duckman, MADtv, Live from Daryl's House, Rock the Cradle and Zachariah.
In October 2004, Walsh undertook speaking engagements in New Zealand to warn against the dangers of substance abuse. He said the visit was a "thank you" to people who took him to Otatara Pa when he toured New Zealand with reggae band Herbs while under heavy alcohol and cocaine addictions in 1989, an experience he has cited as the beginning of a long journey back to good health. At Otatara Pa in 2004 Walsh said, "This is a special place, and it is very special to me. It was here on a visit many years ago, up on the hills, that I had a moment of clarity. I don't understand it, but I reconnected with my soul, and I remembered who I used to be. I admitted I had problems and I had to do something about it. It was the beginning of my recovery from my addiction to alcohol and drugs, and when I got back to America it gave me the courage to seek help."
On February 12, 2012, Walsh appeared on stage with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and McCartney's band at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to close out the Grammy Awards show. Walsh also appeared on the 60th Episode of Live from Daryl's House with Daryl Hall, which premiered on November 15, 2012.
On February 9, 2014, Walsh was featured in several songs on the CBS special The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles.
Walsh is active in charity work and has performed in a number of concerts to raise money for charitable causes. He has also been a personal contributor to a number of charity causes including halfway houses for displaced adult women in Wichita, Kansas. Walsh funded the first talent-based scholarship at Kent State University in 2008.
Walsh cites influences including Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Jeff Beck, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Manfred Mann, and the Faces. In turn he has influenced Dan Fogelberg, Maroon 5, Kenny Chesney, Jonny Lang, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and George Thorogood Duane Allman of the Allman brothers had also taught Walsh how to play the slide guitar
Joe Walsh has been married five times. He was married briefly to Margie Walsh in the 1960s, to Stephanie Walsh from 1971 to 1978, to Juanita Boyer from 1980 to 1988 and to Denise Driscoll from 1999 to 2006. Walsh married Marjorie Bach (sister of Barbara Bach and sister-in-law of Ringo Starr) in Los Angeles on December 13, 2008.
Walsh's daughter Lucy Walsh is also a musician who has worked with Ashlee Simpson and others. She released her debut solo album, Lost in the Lights, in spring 2007.
Walsh's eldest daughter, Emma Kristen, was born in 1971 and died in 1974 at only 3 years old as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident on her way to nursery school. Her story inspired the track "Song For Emma" on Walsh's first "official" solo album So What released later that year. In her memory, he had a fountain and memorial plaque placed in a park in which she played: North Boulder Park in Boulder, Colorado, He has said that the album name ("So What") was a result of Emma's death—that nothing else seemed meaningful or important in the months that followed. The strain would eventually contribute to Walsh's divorce from his second wife Stephanie. While touring with singer Stevie Nicks in 1984, Walsh took Nicks to the park's fountain; Nicks subsequently immortalized this story in her song "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" on her 1985 album Rock A Little. When discussing their relationship, Nicks stated in a 2007 interview with the UK's The Daily Telegraph that Walsh had been "the great love of her life."
Walsh admits to struggling with alcohol and drug addictions for most of his career; however, he has been in recovery since 1995. Walsh related the story that in 1994 he woke up after blacking out on an airplane to Paris, France. When he arrived, he had his passport, but did not remember getting on the plane. That was his turning point and he has been sober ever since.
While living in New York City, Walsh began a lifelong interest in amateur radio. Walsh holds an Amateur Extra Class Amateur Radio License, and his station callsign is WB6ACU. In 2006 he donated an autographed guitar to the ARRL in Newington, Connecticut, for its charity auction. He has also been involved with the group's "Big Project," which brings amateur radio into schools. Walsh has included Morse Code messages in his albums on two occasions: once on the album Barnstorm ("Register and Vote"), and later on Songs for a Dying Planet ("Register and Vote for Me").
Running For Congress
Walsh had often joked about running for office, announcing a mock presidential campaign in 1980 and a vice presidential campaign in 1992. Walsh ran for President of the United States in 1980, promising to make "Life's Been Good" the new national anthem if he won, and ran on a platform of "Free Gas For Everyone." Though Walsh was not old enough to actually assume the office, he said that he wanted to raise public awareness of the election. In 1992 Walsh ran for vice president with Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan "We Want Our Money Back!"
However, in an interview to promote his album Analog Man in 2012, Walsh revealed he was considering a serious bid for political office. "I think I would run seriously, and I think I would run for Congress," Walsh told WASH in Washington, D.C.. "The root of the problem is that Congress is so dysfunctional. We're dead in the water until Congress gets to work and passes some new legislation to change things."
Jimmy Page's sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul, better known as his "Number 1" was originally owned by Joe Walsh and was sold to Page in 1969.
In 1970, Walsh gave a 1959 Gretsch 6120 to the Who's lead guitarist Pete Townshend. Townshend would go on to use the Gretsch in the studio to record tracks on albums such as Who's Next and Quadrophenia.
- Fender Telecaster Butterscotch, Sunburst, Blonde, Natural White, other finishes
- Fender Stratocaster Black, White, Sunburst, Turquoise Green, Candy apple Red
- Duesenberg Double Cat 6 Sunburst
- Rickenbacker 330 Jetglo used on the song "The Long Run" & "Rocky Mountain Way"
- 1959 Gibson Les Paul that was given/sold to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in April 1969
- Gibson Les Paul Custom Ebony & Sunburst
- Gibson Les Paul Supreme Sunburst used on the song "Get Over It" to his playing slide guitar
- Gibson ES-335 Sunburst
- Zemaitis Custom De Luxe Guitar used in concert on Farewell Concert Tour
- Music Man Guitars various finishes used in The Long Road Out of Eden Tour
- Gretsch Country Club Models Candy Apple Red & White
- Various Model Carvin & Fernandes Guitars
- Takamine & Guild Acoustic Guitars
- Ibanez : Joe Satriani model with humbucking pickups,silver, red etc.
- Carvin DC4, CT6, CT4, CS4, Other various models.z
- Dr. Z
- 3RD POWER Amplification
- Marshall 50 watt Plexi
- Hiwatt DR103
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart
- Walsh, Joe (1996). Look What I Did! And Then Some .... Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-0793544714
- Lemco, Steve (2011). Joe & Me. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1463612276