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Biography

Joseph Fidler "Joe" Walsh (born Joseph Fidler; November 20, 1947) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. He has previously been a member of three commercially successful bands: the James Gang, Barnstorm, and the Eagles. He has also experienced success both as a solo artist and prolific session musician. Walsh was ranked as Number 54 spot in the Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."

Although known primarily as a guitarist, he also plays other instruments such as the keyboards, clarinet, mandolin, oboe, bagpipes, talk box, synthesiser, bass guitar and drums.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Joseph Fidler Walsh was adopted by his step-father (his biological father was killed in a plane crash), whose last name was Walsh, at the age of five. In the 1950s it was common practice for Social Security, school registration, and health records for children to take the name of their stepfather. Walsh's birth father's last name was Fidler and he took that as his middle name. A native of Wichita, Kansas, Walsh and his family lived in Columbus, Ohio, for a number of years during his youth. His mother was a classically trained pianist of Scottish and German ancestry. When Walsh was twelve years old his family moved to New York City. Later, Walsh moved to Montclair, New Jersey and attended Montclair High School there. While at Montclair High School, he replaced Bruce Hoffman as the bass player in the locally popular group the Nomads. While attending Kent State University, he spent time in various bands playing around the Cleveland area, including the Measles. Walsh began a lifelong hobby of amateur ("ham") radio while living in New York City.

1960s and 1970s[edit]

In January 1968 he replaced Glenn Schwartz as the lead guitarist for the James Gang, a five piece American band that rapidly became a power trio after the lead vocalist and keyboardist quit. 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 and formed the group Barnstorm, although their albums credited Walsh as a solo artist. Walsh and Barnstorm released their debut, the eponymous Barnstorm in October 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 marketed under Walsh's name (although officially a Barnstorm album) and was a 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.

In 1974 Walsh produced Dan Fogelberg's Souvenirs album and played the guitar, electric guitar, 12 string guitar, arp bass and provided backing vocals. He also contacted Graham Nash to sing harmony vocals on "Part Of The Plan", which helped send the album to #17 on the 1975 Billboard album chart.

In late 1974, Walsh played slide guitar on former Barnstorm band mate Joe Vitale's debut solo album Roller Coaster Weekend. In December 1974, Walsh released an official solo album, So What and in March 1976, 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 was 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).

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". Walsh 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.

1980s-present[edit]

Following the breakup of the Eagles in 1980, Walsh continued to release solo albums throughout the 1980s, but sales were mostly poor. So he maintained a low profile until the mid-1990s. In 1981 Walsh and former Barnstorm bandmate, Joe Vitale went to work on old friend John Entwistle's fifth solo album Too Late the Hero, whenever they were to free to record it, the album turned out to become John Entwistle's best-charting solo album of his whole solo career, with hit singles "Talk Dirty" and "Too Late the Hero". Then in late 1984 Walsh was contacted by Australian musician Paul Christie, the 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 the 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 short-lived touring group Creatures From America, with Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Rick Rosas (bass) and Australian drummer Richard Harvey (Divinyls, the Party Boys). Walsh returned to Australia in 1989 to tour with another incarnation of the Party Boys. 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. Also in 1989 Walsh filmed a live concert from the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles with Etta James and Albert Collins. 'Jazzvisions: Jump The Blues Away'.

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 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.

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. He sang the US National Anthem at the beginning of game five of the 1995 World Series.

In June 2004, Walsh performed 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.

Walsh's song "One Day At A Time" deals with his struggles with alcoholism. He has been in recovery since 1995.

In 2008, Walsh appeared on the Carvin 60th Anniversary Celebration DVD as a celebrity endorser. In the recorded interview, he highly praised 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 been a contributor to such causes as halfway houses for displaced adult women in Wichita, Kansas.

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 ran 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. In 1992 Walsh ran for vice president with Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan "We Want Our Money Back!".

In May 2012, Walsh was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

Walsh's Analog Man, was released on June 5, 2012. The album was co-produced by Jeff Lynne, with Tommy Lee James co-writing some of the album's tracks.

Notable appearances[edit]

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 guitar throughout Who bassist John Entwistle's 1981 solo album Too Late The Hero. Walsh has also contributed to albums by: America, REO Speedwagon, Andy Gibb, Wilson Phillips, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Steve Winwood, and on the Richard Marx hit "Don't Mean Nothing".

Onscreen Walsh has appeared in: The Blues Brothers, RoboCop, Promised Land, The Drew Carey Show, Duckman, MADtv, Rock the Cradle and Zachariah.

On February 12, 2012, Walsh appeared on stage with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and McCartney's band at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to close out the Grammy Awards show.

Walsh was a regular guest deejay on the Los Angeles radio station, KLOS during the mid-1980s. They had a Saturday evening feature, with celebrity guest-hosts taking over the mic (Walsh was the guest host far more frequently than any other). He was also a frequent guest and guest-host of Detroit & Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl.

Walsh also appeared on the 60th Episode of Live From Daryl's House with Daryl Hall, which premiered on November 15, 2012.

On February 9, 2014, Walsh was featured in several songs on the CBS special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America - A Grammy Salute".

Personal life[edit]

Walsh holds an Amateur Extra Class Amateur Radio License. His station callsign is WB6ACU. In 2006 he donated an autographed guitar to the ARRL in Newington, Connecticut 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 married Marjorie Bach (sister of Barbara Bach and sister-in-law of Ringo Starr) in Los Angeles on December 13, 2008.

Walsh's daughter, Lucy Walsh, is also a musician; she has worked with Ashlee Simpson and others, and she released her debut solo album, Lost in the Lights, in spring 2008.

Walsh's eldest daughter, Emma Kristen, was born in 1971 and died in 1974 at only 3 years old, as a result of injuries suffered in an automobile accident on her way to nursery school. Her story inspired the track "Song For Emma" on his first solo 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's The Daily 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. He said the visit was a "thank you" to people who 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."

In 1994, Walsh noted that he woke up after blacking out when arriving in Paris, France on an airplane. He had his passport, but did not remember getting on the plane. That was his turning point and he has been sober ever since.

Jimmy Page's sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul, better known as his "Number 1" was originally owned by Joe Walsh and was sold to Page in 1969.

In 1970, Walsh gave a 1959 Gretsch 6120 to the Who's lead guitarist Pete Townshend. Townshend would go on to use the Gretsch in the studio to record tracks on albums such as Who's Next and Quadrophenia

Kent State University awarded Walsh an honorary degree in music in December 2001.

Instruments[edit]

Guitars[edit]

  • Fender Telecaster Butterscotch, Sunburst, Blonde, Natural White, other finishes
  • Fender Stratocaster Black, White, Sunburst, Turquoise Green, Candy apple Red
  • Duesenberg Double Cat 6 Sunburst
  • Rickenbacker 330 Jetglo used on the song "The Long Run" & "Rocky Mountain Way"
  • 1959 Gibson Les Paul that was given/sold to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page in April 1969
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom Ebony & Sunburst
  • Gibson Les Paul Supreme Sunburst used on the song "Get Over It" to his playing slide guitar
  • Gibson ES-335 Sunburst
  • Zemaitis Custom De Luxe Guitar used in concert on Farewell Concert Tour
  • Music Man Guitars various finishes used in The Long Road Out of Eden Tour
  • Gretsch Country Club Models Candy Apple Red & White
  • Various Model Carvin & Fernandes Guitars
  • Takamine & Guild Acoustic Guitars
  • Ibanez : Joe Satriani model with humbucking pickups,silver, red etc.
  • Carvin DC4, CT6, CT4, CS4, Other various models.

Amplifiers[edit]

  • Fender
  • Dr. Z
  • Carvin
  • VOX
  • 3RD POWER Amplification
  • Marshall 50 watt Plexi

Other instruments[edit]

  • Fender Rhodes Piano
  • Hammond Organ
  • Roland JD-990
  • Korg Karma
  • Korg Trinity
  • Moog Synthesizers
  • Clavia Nord Modular
  • Clavia Nord Electro
  • Harmonium
  • Mellotron
  • Yamaha Piano
  • Baldwin Grand Piano
  • Fender Precision Bass
  • Gibson F-4 Mandolin
  • Gibson F-5 Mandolin
  • Clarinet
  • Oboe
  • Bagpipes
  • Talk box
  • Timpani

Solo discography[edit]

  • The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973)
  • So What (1975)
  • But Seriously, Folks... (1978)
  • There Goes the Neighborhood (1981)
  • You Bought It – You Name It (1983)
  • The Confessor (1985)
  • Got Any Gum? (1987)
  • Ordinary Average Guy (1991)
  • Songs for a Dying Planet (1992)
  • Analog Man (2012)

External links[edit]

  • Official website

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