The Ea­gles’ six-stringer’s tasty chops helped cre­ate the sig­na­ture sound for a gen­er­a­tion. Les David­son ex­plores his bluesy side.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Les in­tro­duces one of the most mu­si­cal and gifted play­ers of our time: the great Joe Walsh.

Many read­ers will as­so­ciate Joe Walsh with his ten­ure in The Ea­gles, when he brought his rock-in­flu­enced blues flavour to the band, de­but­ing on their best-sell­ing ’76 al­bum, Ho­tel Cal­i­for­nia.

Joe was born in 1947 in Wi­chita, Kansas. The fam­ily home was alive with mu­sic as his mother was a keen pi­ano player. She had a huge in­flu­ence on the young Joe and, along­side tun­ing into rock and roll on the ra­dio, mu­sic cap­tured his spirit and he re­solved to be­come a pro­fes­sional gui­tar player while still a young boy.

Later the Walsh fam­ily re­lo­cated to Ohio and Joe at­tended the Kent State Univer­sity where he would hone his gui­tar skills in bars and cof­fee shops. At the time he was ab­sorb­ing the work of blues and rock and roll giants such as BB King, Chuck Berry and Lit­tle Richard, and their in­flu­ence would stretch long into his ca­reer.

In 1968 Joe joined The James Gang and when they re­con­fig­ured to a three-piece it pushed Joe to the fore. The James Gang went on to score sev­eral hit sin­gles as well as a cou­ple of gold al­bums but Joe be­came rest­less and left to form a new out­fit, Barn­storm. With Barn­storm Joe con­tin­ued to have hits and dur­ing this cre­atively ac­tive pe­riod he pro­duced the clas­sic, Rocky Moun­tain Way. It wasn’t long, how­ever, be­fore Joe changed horses again - get­ting him­self a new man­ager, Irv­ing Azoff, and re­lo­cat­ing to Los Angeles and the bur­geon­ing ’70s rock scene.

He struck up a mu­si­cal friend­ship with Don Hen­ley, Glen Frey, Jackson Browne and JD Souther – a union that would even­tu­ally lead to Joe join­ing The Ea­gles for the Ho­tel


Cal­i­for­nia al­bum, which went on to sell a till-ring­ing 50 mil­lion!

De­spite the arena-fill­ing suc­cess of The Ea­gles, Joe has al­ways found time to make solo hit al­bums. He’s con­sis­tently re­mained on top of his game and the ba­sis of his style is clearly steeped in the blues tra­di­tion. His most re­cent solo al­bum Ana­log Man – re­leased in 2012 – fea­tured Jeff Lynne on pro­duc­tion du­ties and Ringo Starr on drums.

Joe tends to be very eco­nom­i­cal with his lines, with a fab­u­lous feel and vi­brato, and al­ways choos­ing a har­mon­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate chord tone on which to land. En­joy th­ese two ex­am­ples and see you next month!

Joe Walsh: one of the best ‘feels’ of any blues-rocker

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