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Joe Walsh Biography

Home > Music > W > Walsh, Joe > Biography

Born: 1947/11/20
Birth Place: Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
Years Active: 1964-present
Genres: Rock, Hard Rock, Folk Rock, Country Rock, Blues-rock

Joe Walsh (born Joseph Fidler Walsh, 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, especially with B.B. King.

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. In particular, he was known for hot-wiring the pickups 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, 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 1973’s “The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get” was titled under his own name as a solo artist, and was Walsh's commercial breakthrough. The first single “Rocky Mountain Way,” received heavy airplay and reached #23 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart. The album went to #6 on the Billboard 200 Albums 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.

On December 20, 1975, 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.”

As the Eagles struggled to record the follow-up to “Hotel California,” Walsh re-ignited his solo career with the well-received 1978 album “But Seriously, Folks...” which featured his hit comic depiction of rock stardom, “Life's Been Good.” Joe also contributed “In the City” to “The Warriors” motion picture soundtrack in 1979, a song penned and sung by Walsh that was later rerecorded for the Eagles “The Long Run” album.

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.

Following the breakup of the Eagles in 1980, Walsh continued to release albums throughout the 1980s. “There Goes the Neighborhood” was released in 1981 and featured the hit “A Life of Illusion.” 1983’s “You Bought It – You Name It” followed, featuring “I Can Play That Rock & Roll” and “Space Age Whiz Kids.” He released “The Confessor” in 1985 and “Got Any Gum?” in 1987. “Got Any Gum?” featured, “In My Car,” co-written with Ringo Starr.

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. 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,” off the 1991 album of the same name.

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.

He released “Songs for a Dying Planet” in 1992 featuring the single, “Vote for Me” and a take on the Carole King song, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”

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 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 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 has been in recovery since 1995. Walsh’s album, “Analog Man,” was released in 2012 and was co-produced by Jeff Lynne, with Tommy Lee James co-writing some of the album's tracks.