Joseph Fidler “Joe” Walsh (born November 20, 1947) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Walsh has been a member of five successful rock bands: James Gang, Barnstorm, the Eagles, The Party Boys, 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, being featured on a wide array of other artists’ recordings. In 2011, Rolling Stone placed Walsh at the number 54 spot on its list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
In the mid-1960s, after attending Kent State University, Walsh played with several local Ohio-based bands before reaching a national audience as a member of the James Gang, whose hit song “Funk #49” highlighted Walsh’s skill as both a guitarist and vocalist. After the James Gang broke up in 1972, Walsh formed a band, Barnstorm, with Joe Vitale, a college friend of Walsh’s from Ohio, and Kenny Passarelli, a bassist from Colorado, where Walsh had settled as his home after leaving Ohio. While the band would stay together for three albums over three years, their works were marketed as Walsh solo projects. The last Barnstorm album, 1974’s So What contained significant guest contributions from several members of the Eagles, a group that had recently hired Walsh’s producer, Bill Szymczyk.
At Szymczyk’s suggestion, 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 a reader’s poll conducted by Guitarist magazine selected the guitar solos on the track “Hotel California” by Walsh and Don Felder as the best guitar solos of all time. Guitar World magazine listed it at eighth of the Top 100 Guitar Solos.
Besides his work with his several bands, he has released twelve solo 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” 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 are considered to be one of the most influential bands of the 1970s, and they 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 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.” 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.
Walsh has released twelve solo albums.
In December 1974, Walsh released his first solo album that was not considered a Barnstorm project, 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.
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. It contained the single “Life’s Been Good”, his comedic depiction of rock stardom, which peaked at No. 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.
Following the break up 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.
There Goes the Neighborhood was Walsh’s first album since the demise of the Eagles, and it peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The album only spawned one single, “A Life of Illusion”, which would become one of Walsh’s most popular songs. The single also topped the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, in 1981.
“A Life of Illusion” was recorded in 1973 with Walsh’s first solo band Barnstorm but was not completed. The overdubs and final mixes were completed during the There Goes the Neighborhood sessions and released on the album. The promotional video for the track shows the making of the album’s cover. This song also appeared in the opening credits of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and appears as the first song on its soundtrack.
Another track, “Rivers (of the Hidden Funk)”, was a track which Walsh had originally wrote for the Eagles’ 1979 album The Long Run, but it was left off. The track featured a guest appearance by Walsh’s Eagles-mate Don Felder (who co-wrote the track) on talk box guitar. “Rivers…” received a good bit of FM radio airplay.
The album’s final track, “You Never Know”, is a song about rumors and hearsay, including not-so-veiled swipes at other members of the Eagles and their management with lines like “The Frontline grapevine jury’s in a nasty mood / you might be guilty, honey, you never know.” (Frontline Management was Irving Azoff’s management firm at the time). Felder appears on guitar on this track performing rhythm and dual lead guitar solos with Walsh.
In May 1983, Walsh released You Bought It – You Name It; the album was received negatively by the majority of music critics, while other reviewers noted good points to the album. It was also not as successful as Walsh’s previous albums, peaking at No. 48 on the Billboard 200. However, Walsh found some moderate success with the single “Space Age Whiz Kids”, about the pinnacle of the 1980s video arcade craze. The album contains hard rock songs such as “I Can Play That Rock & Roll” and a cover of the Dick Haymes track, “Love Letters”. It also contains more introspective material such as “Class of ’65”, and contains a song titled “I.L.B.T.s”, an acronym for “I Like Big Tits”.
His next album, The Confessor, would be something that Walsh’s new girlfriend Stevie Nicks would get involved with. Nicks’ old friend Keith Olsen was hired to produce the album and the musicians were prolific LA session musicians including: Jim Keltner, Mike Porcaro, Waddy Wachtel, Randy Newman, Alan Pasqua and many other musicians that Walsh had never worked with before.
In 1987, Walsh released his final solo album of the 1980s, Got Any Gum?, which was produced by Terry Manning, and features vocal contributions from J. D. Souther and Survivor’s lead vocalist Jimi Jamison, but the album was a commercial disappointment.
Walsh’s song “One Day at a 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.
Flying Solo: Unplugged
Predator Records 2017
Tracks: The Heart Of The Matter (Don Henley – MTV Unplugged), Best My Love (Don Henley – MTV Unplugged), Come Rain Or Come Shine (Don Henley – MTV Unplugged), Desperado (Don Henley – MTV Unplugged), Rosewood Bitters (Joe Walsh – MTV Unplugged), Repetition Repetition Repetition (Joe Walsh – MTV Unplugged), Cinnamon Girl (Joe Walsh – MTV Unplugged), Life´s Been Good (Joe Walsh – MTV Unplugged), Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) (Joe Walsh – MTV Unplugged), Rocky Mountain Way (1986) (Joe Walsh – Farm Aid), Old MacDonald (1990) (Joe Walsh – Farm Aid), The Boys Of Summer (1985) (Don Henley – Farm Aid) & A Month Of Sundays (1985) (Don Henley – Farm Aid).
Musicians on the Flying Solo: Unplugged album: Don Henley, Joe Walsh and others.
Warner Bros 1985
You Bought It – You Name It
Warner Bros 1983
There Goes The Neighborhood
Asylum Records 1981
“But Seriously, Folks…”
Asylum Records 1978
You Can´t Argue With A Sick Mind
ABC Records 1976