The Eagles’ six-stringer’s tasty chops helped create the signature sound for a generation. Les Davidson explores his bluesy side.
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
DESPITE THE ARENAFILLING SUCCESS OF THE EAGLES, JOE HAS ALWAYS FOUND TIME TO MAKE SOLO HIT ALBUMS
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