1947 – Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh is born in New York. As a solo artist he has four top 20 albums, including “The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get,” which reaches No. 6 on Chart Toppers’s pop album chart.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Walsh and his family lived in Columbus, Ohio for a number of years, and subsequently moved to New York City. Later, Walsh moved to Montclair, New Jersey and attended Montclair High School there. He spent time in various bands playing around the Cleveland area, including The Measles, while attending Kent State University.
In 1969, he replaced Glen Schwartz as lead guitarist for the James Gang, an American power trio. Walsh proved to be the band’s star attraction, noted for his innovative rhythm playing and creative guitar riffs. The James Gang had several minor hits and became an early album-oriented rock staple for the next two years. In November, 1971, Walsh left the group and formed the group Barnstorm, although their albums credited Walsh as a solo artist. Walsh and Barnstorm released their debut, the eponymous Barnstorm in 1972. The album was a critical success, but it only sold moderately. The follow-up The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973) was a commercial breakthrough. The first single “Rocky Mountain Way”, received heavy airplay and reached #23 on the US top 40 charts. In 1974, Barnstorm disbanded and Walsh continued as a true solo artist.
Over the next two years, Walsh would release a studio album So What and a live set, You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind. These would be his last solo albums until 1978. In 1976, he joined the highly successful rock band the Eagles as Bernie Leadon’s replacement. His addition pushed the band toward a harder-edged sound and away from their early country-style work.
As the Eagles struggled to record the follow-up to their highly successful album Hotel California, Walsh re-ignited his solo career with the well-received discs But Seriously Folks (1978) (which featured his hit comic depiction of rock stardom, “Life’s Been Good”) and There Goes the Neighborhood. Joe also contributed “In the City” to The Warriors soundtrack (1979), a song penned and sung by Walsh that later appeared on The Eagles’ “The Long Run” album.
Following the Eagles breakup in 1980, Walsh continued to release albums throughout the 1980s, but sales were poor. Musical trends had passed him by and he maintained a low profile until the mid-1990s. He toured with Ringo Starr in 1989, alternating a handful of his best-known songs with Ringo’s tunes, as did all the members of the “All Starr” band. Walsh sang the US National Anthem at the beginning of game four of the 1995 World Series. In 1989, Walsh recorded a MTV Unplugged with the R&B musician Dr. John.
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 June 2004, Walsh performed live before a huge crowd 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 James Gang for a 15-date summer reunion tour. The tour lasted into the fall. Some of his most recent compositions, such as “One Day At A Time”, deal with his struggles with substance abuse, particularly alcoholism. He is now a teetotaller and has been sober since 1995.
In 2008, Walsh appeared on the “Carvin 60th Anniversary Celebration DVD” as a Celebrity Endorser. In the recorded interview, he highly praises 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 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 lead guitar on the song “Green Monkey” which appeared on America’s 1973 album Hat Trick
Walsh co-wrote and played lead guitar on the song “Split Decision” which appeared on Steve Winwood’s 1986 album Back in the High Life.
Walsh would reunite with former Eagles bandmates Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit as background musicians on the 1987 Richard Marx hit “Don’t Mean Nothing”.
Walsh played a prisoner in The Blues Brothers. He is noticeable as he is the first prisoner to get on the cafeteria tables during the Jailhouse Rock song at the end. Joe was a close friend of John Belushi, who starred in the movie.
In the mid 1980s, Dallas/Ft. Worth DJ Redbeard (Doug Hill), KTXQ/Q102, went on vacation. Walsh sat in for him during that week. During this period, he would do guest DJ spots for a week or two annually where he dished inside information on the music industry, and entertained listeners with his antics and music at other stations including KLBJ in Austin, TX.
Walsh appeared as a mystery guest on the Howard Stern show on August 8, 1989, along with Pat Cooper. He has appeared numerous times on Stern’s show since, more recently with the James Gang to promote their summer 2006 tour.
Walsh played guitar alongside Laura Hall in a surprise appearance in Drew Carey’s pay-per-view presentation of “Drew Carey’s Improv All-Stars” in Las Vegas. He participated in one game in each show, the ending game “biography.” He sometimes made guest appearances on the Drew Carey Show as Ed, a laid-back guitarist in a bar band.
Walsh appeared as a featured performer at the 1992 Seville Expo Guitar Legends with on-stage featured guitarists Nuno Bettencourt, Brian May, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.
Walsh sang the National Anthem of Chile at a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball game in 2003.
Walsh appeared in the television series Duckman, as medical video actor in episode 315 – “They Craved Duckman’s Brain”. Walsh also plays a version of “Life’s Been Good” in a Duckman episode. He also appeared on Mad TV in 1995 as a customer at an air guitar shop, and on the comedy game show Street Smarts. Walsh appeared in the audience on the April 10, 2008 episode of the MTV show Rock the Cradle as a surprise for his daughter Lucy.
Walsh appeared with the James Gang in the motion picture Zachariah (1971).
Walsh commenced 2007 with an appearance at Dear Mr Fantasy – A Celebration For Jim Capaldi: a charity gig being held at London’s famous Roundhouse where he appeared alongside Steve Winwood, Jon Lord, Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman, Paul Weller and many others.
During 2007, Walsh has appeared at selected shows with country-rock star musician Kenny Chesney on his Flip Flop Summer Tour 2007. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the world who doesn’t know ‘Life’s Been Good’ or ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ if they’ve listened to any rock radio at all,” said Kenny. Walsh also played a number of solo dates during late summer. Walsh has collaborated with Chesney on several occasions, most notably producing the song “Wild Ride”.
Walsh performed the National Anthem on guitar at the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers game on November 5th, 2008 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Walsh holds an Extra Class Amateur Radio License. His station callsign is WB6ACU. In 2006 he donated an autographed guitar to the ARRL 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”).
Walsh is known for his guitar and keyboard skills, but also plays/has played bass guitar, harmonica, bagpipes, oboe, and clarinet. His mother was a classically trained pianist.
Walsh’s daughter, Lucy Walsh, is also a musician; she has worked with Ashlee Simpson, among others, and is releasing her debut album, Lost in the Lights, in spring 2008.
Walsh’s oldest daughter, Emma Kristen, died as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident on her way to nursery school in 1974. Her story inspired the track “Song For Emma” on his 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. 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. Nicks stated in a 2007 interview with the UK Telegraph that Walsh had been “the great love of her life.”
Walsh ran a mock campaign for President in 1980, promising to make “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem if he won, and running on a platform of “Free Gas For Everyone.” Though Walsh was not old enough to actually assume the office, he wanted to raise public awareness of the election. He then ran again for vice president in 1992 and was unsuccessful.
Walsh gave his main guitar, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst, to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Kent State University awarded Walsh an honorary degree in music in December 2001.
* Yer’ Album (November 1969)
* James Gang Rides Again (October 1970)
* Thirds (July 1971)
* James Gang Live in Concert (December 1971)
* Hotel California (December 1976)
* The Long Run (September 1979)
* Eagles Live (November 7 1980)
* Hell Freezes Over (November 1994)
* Long Road Out of Eden (October 30, 2007)
* Barnstorm (September 1972)
* The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (June 1973)
* So What (December 1974)
* You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind (March 1976)
* But Seriously Folks (May 1978)
* There Goes the Neighborhood (March 1981)
* You Bought It, You Name It (May 1983)
* The Confessor (1985)
* Got Any Gum? (July 1987)
* Ordinary Average Guy (January 1991)
* Songs for a Dying Planet (May 1992)
* The Best of Joe Walsh (November 1978)
* Rocky Mountain Way (September 1985)
* Look What I Did! (May 1995)
* Joe Walsh’s Greatest Hits – Little Did He Know… (1997)
Albums with REO Speedwagon
* Ridin’ The Storm Out (1973) (Slide guitar)
Albums with Ringo Starr
* Old Wave (June 1983) (Walsh both played on and produced this album)
* Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band (October 1990)
* Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band Volume 2: Live from Montreux (September 1993)
* Vertical Man (June 1998)
* VH1 Storytellers (October 1998)
* Andy Gibb — (Love Is) Thicker Than Water (1977)
* Manassas — Down the Road (1973) (slide guitar)
* Frankie Miller– Long Way Home (2006)
* Dan Fogelberg — Souvenirs (1974) (Walsh both played on and produced this album) and Face The Fire from Phoenix (1979)
* Jay Ferguson — Thunder Island (1977) and Real Life Ain’t This Way (1979)
* John Entwistle — “Too Late The Hero (1981) (Walsh both played on and produced this album)
* Carl Palmer — “L.A. Nights (1977)
* Michael Stanley — “Rosewood Bitters” (slide guitar)(1973)
* Bob Seger — “The Mountain” (1991)
* Joe Vitale — “Roller Coaster Weekend” (1974)
* Joe Vitale — “Plantation Harbour” (1981)
Eagles songs written by Joe Walsh
* “Life in the Fast Lane” on Hotel California (co-written with Don Henley and Glenn Frey)
* “Pretty Maids All in a Row” on Hotel California (co-written with Joe Vitale)
* “The Sad Café” on The Long Run (co-written with J.D. Souther and Henley/Frey)
* “In The City” on The Long Run (co-written with Barry De Vorzon)
* “Last Good Time In Town” on Long Road Out of Eden
Eagles songs featuring Joe Walsh on lead vocal
* “Pretty Maids All in a Row” on Hotel California
* “In The City” on The Long Run
* “Guilty Of The Crime” on Long Road Out Of Eden
* “Last Good Time In Town” on Long Road Out Of Eden
Note: Other songs in the Eagles catalog that were sung and written by Walsh include “Life’s Been Good” and “All Night Long”, from Walsh’s solo career, which were included on Eagles Live and “Funk 49”, from Walsh’s days in the James Gang, was included on the fourth “Millennium Concert” disc of the Eagles box set Selected Works: 1972-1999. These are not Eagles songs however, since the studio cuts did not originate under the Eagles name
Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 MNSTR UK Singles
1970 “Funk #49” (w/ James Gang) 59 – – James Gang Rides Again
1971 “Walk Away” (w/ James Gang) 51 – – Thirds
1971 “Midnight Man” (w/ James Gang) 80 – – Thirds
1973 “Rocky Mountain Way” 23 – – The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get
1974 “Meadows” 89 – – The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get
1975 “Turn To Stone” 93 – – So What
1977 “Rocky Mountain Way” – – 39 Rocky Mountain Way EP
1978 “Life’s Been Good” 12 – 14 But Seriously Folks…
1980 “All Night Long” 19 – – Urban Cowboy Soundtrack
1981 “A Life of Illusion” 34 1 – There Goes The Neighborhood
1983 “Space Age Whiz Kids” 52 21 – You Bought It, You Name It
1983 “I Can Play That Rock & Roll” – 13 – You Bought It, You Name It
1985 “The Confessor” – 8 – The Confessor
1987 “The Radio Song” – 8 – Got Any Gum?
1987 “In My Car” – 14 – Got Any Gum?
1991 “Ordinary Average Guy” – 3 – Ordinary Average Guy
1991 “All of a Sudden” – 13 – Ordinary Average Guy
1992 “Vote for Me” – 10 – Songs for a Dying Planet
2007 “Wild Ride” (w/ Kenny Chesney)A – – – Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (Kenny Chesney album)