Joseph Fidler "Joe" Walsh (born November 20, 1947) is an American musician, songwriter, and actor. He has been a member of three commercially successful bands, the James Gang, Barnstorm, and the Eagles, and has experienced notable success as a solo artist and prolific session musician.
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.
1960s and 1970s
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In January 1968, 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,including James Gang Live at Carnegie Hall. 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 had only moderate sales. The follow-up The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973) was Walsh's commercial breakthrough. The first single "Rocky Mountain Way", received heavy airplay and reached #23 on the US Top 40 chart. In 1974, Barnstorm disbanded and Walsh continued as a solo artist.
Over the next two years, Walsh released a second 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 Eagles as Bernie Leadon's replacement. His addition steered the band toward a harder-edged sound and away from their early country-style work, and he featured prominently on their multi-million-selling album Hotel California, co-writing the Top 20 hit "Life In The Fast Lane" (with Don Henley and Glenn Frey) and "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (co-written with former Barnstorm drummer Joe Vitale).
As the Eagles struggled to record the follow-up to Hotel California, Walsh re-ignited his solo career with the well-received album But Seriously Folks (1978) -- which featured his hit comic depiction of rock stardom, "Life's Been Good". Joe also contributed "In the City" to The Warriors soundtrack (1979), a song penned and sung by Walsh that was later rerecorded for the Eagles "The Long Run" album.
Following the breakup of the Eagles 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. In late 1984 Walsh was contacted by Australian musician Paul Christie, former bassist in Mondo Rock, who 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 acclaimed guitarist Kevin Borich, with whom Walsh became good friends. Walsh accepted and performed with Party Boys on their late 1984-early 1985 Australian tour and appeared on their live album You Need Professional Help. He remained in Australia for some time after the tour, putting together the shortlived touring group Creatures From America with Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Rick Rosas (bass) and Australian drummer Richard Harvey (Divinyls, Party Boys). Walsh returned to Australia in 1989 to tour with another incarnation of The Party Boys and also visted New Zealand, where he briefly joined NZ band Herbs.
Walsh 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.
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", and 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 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."
Joe has been a contributor to such causes as halfway houses for displaced adult women in Wichita, Kansas.
1980 Presidential Candidacy
Walsh ran for President of the United States in 1980 on top of his music career as a mock campaign. He promised 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.
Walsh performing with the Eagles in 2009.
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 5, 2008 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Walsh appears in Madden NFL 10 on the Free Agents list at the Wide Receiver position.
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 married Marjorie Bach (sister of Barbara Bach) in Los Angeles on December 13 2008.
Walsh's daughter, Lucy Walsh, is also a musician; she has worked with Ashlee Simpson, among others, and released 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."
In October 2004, Walsh undertook speaking engagements in New Zealand to warn against the dangers of substance abuse. Events were staged at the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington, Otatara Pa in Hawke's Bay and Hoani Waititi Marae in Auckland. He said the visit was a "thank you" to people who talked to him and 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 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."
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.