Joe Walsh, born on November 20, 1947, in Wichita, Kansas, is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is famous for his remarkable contribution to rock music and unforgettable soundtracks. His career includes his role as a member of the Eagles, his solo work, and collaborations with successful bands.
Walsh’s journey from a challenging childhood, marked by the early loss of his father, to becoming a celebrated musician reflects his resilience and creative brilliance. His legacy in music is not just in his chart-topping hits and memorable guitar solos but also in the inspiration he provides to countless fans and fellow musicians.
Joe Walsh’s Early Years and Education
Joe Walsh experienced early tragedy with the loss of his father, a U.S. Air Force instructor, in a plane crash. His mother, a skilled pianist, influenced his early musical journey. After being adopted by his stepfather at five,
Walsh moved several times during his childhood, living in places like Columbus, Ohio, and Montclair, New Jersey. In New Jersey, his passion for music deepened as he played in the school band and joined a local group, the Nomads.
Walsh’s educational path led him to Kent State University, where he played in various bands. His time at university was short-lived, profoundly impacted by the tragic events of the Kent State massacre in 1970.
This experience prompted Walsh to leave college, focusing entirely on his growing career in music. These early years shaped his future as a renowned musician, marked by resilience and a deepening commitment to his art.
A Life of Musical Success and Achievements
Joe Walsh’s rise to fame began in the mid-1960s when he joined several Ohio-based bands, notably the James Gang. His skill as a guitarist and singer was evident in their hit song “Funk #49“. In 1972, after leaving the James Gang, Walsh formed Barnstorm, marking the start of his solo career.
However, his most significant breakthrough came in 1975 when he joined the Eagles, contributing to their classic album “Hotel California.” The guitar solos in the title track, performed by Walsh and Don Felder, have been considered as some of the greatest ever. The Guitarist magazine and Guitar World have acknowledged and praised their brilliance.
Apart from his success with the Eagles and James Gang, Walsh has also had a distinguished solo career. He has released 12 studio albums and hits like “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good.”
His impact on the music industry is immense, as evidenced by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001 as an Eagles member. Walsh’s contributions have shaped the sound of one of the most influential bands of the 1970s and earned him a spot among the best-selling American bands in history.
Beyond his band and solo work, Walsh has also been a prolific session musician, collaborating with many artists. His exceptional guitar skills earned him a place in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list in 2011. Esteemed musicians like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Pete Townshend have praised Walsh’s talents, emphasizing his unique style and profound influence on rock guitar.
Here are ten interesting facts about Joe Walsh:
First Guitar: He got his first guitar at age 10. The Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run” inspired him and he decided to pursue a career as a guitarist.
Musical Experimentation: Walsh used a variety of instruments, including acoustic and slide guitars, effects pedals, and keyboards, notably running his guitar into a Leslie speaker for unique tones.
Solo Career Launch: Following the disbandment of Barnstorm in 1974, Walsh embarked on a solo career.
Learning from the Best: Duane Allman taught him slide guitar techniques. Duane also worked on Eric Clapton’s “Layla” with Derek and the Dominos.
Tribute to His Daughter: In 1974, his album “So What” featured “Song for Emma.” That song is a tribute to his daughter, who died in a car accident that year.
Soundtrack Contribution: In 1979, Walsh wrote and sang “In the City” for “The Warriors” soundtrack. Later, it was re-recorded for the Eagles’ album “The Long Run“.
Rewriting for Football: In 1998, ABC asked Walsh to rewrite “Rocky Mountain Way” lyrics for Monday Night Football, dedicating it to quarterback John Elway of the Denver Broncos.